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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    [size=18px]Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow[/size]

    Several NFL executives say the Vikings' offer to Steve Hutchinson violated the spirit of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.

    Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
    Last update: March 28, 2006 – 5:28 AM


    ORLANDO - Fallout continued Monday from the Vikings' unprecedented offer sheet to guard Steve Hutchinson. Facing a barrage of concern from owners and executives, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue vowed to close the "poison pill" loophole that helped Hutchinson jump from Seattle to the Vikings last week.

    Tagliabue said the clause, which would have forced the Seahawks to guarantee all $49 million of Hutchinson's contract in order to retain him, was "not in the spirit" of the league's collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie called it "a very troubling matter," while Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian said "historically it has not been done."

    In response, the architect of the provision passionately defended his motives and revealed he has been urging the league to address the loophole. In a rare interview, Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings vice president of football operations, discounted the notion of allowing unwritten rules to govern contract negotiations.

    "The 'spirit' of anything is subjective," said Brzezinski, part of the Vikings delegation here at the annual league meetings.

    "All we can operate on is what's in black and white," he added. "What we did was clearly within the rules. We weren't in any way trying to be antagonistic or create issues in the system. We were simply trying to do what was in the best interest of the Vikings. This is an exceptional player, and we were in a competitive situation."

    Brzezinski said he has discussed the matter "at length" with league officials in recent years, pointing out the myriad ways to craft an unfavorable offer sheet for transition players and restricted free agents. In Hutchinson's case, Brzezinski inserted a clause that would be triggered if he was not the team's highest-paid offensive lineman in 2006.

    The clause was written specifically to inhibit the Seahawks, who already were paying left tackle Walter Jones more than Hutchinson was set to receive; the Vikings faced no such predicament. The language was upheld March 20 by special master Stephen Burbank, who ruled that it was legal under the terms of the CBA.

    During a news conference Monday, Tagliabue said the NFL erred by not closing the loophole during negotiations for a CBA extension earlier this month. He said he will discuss the matter next week with Gene Upshaw, executive director of the Players Association, and said: "These issues ... need to be addressed."

    "I think it's not what was contemplated [in the CBA]," he added. "The minds of creative people know no limit. As time goes by, an unlimited mind creates new innovations. But it's not in the spirit of the deal. So we will address that."

    A wide swath of league officials joined Tagliabue in suggesting the Vikings violated what amounted to a gentleman's agreement. They said the original team of a transition player should only have to match terms that the new team would pay.

    "We've always said that offer sheets had to be on a level playing field," Polian told the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. "It ought to cost you as much as it costs me. In this particular case, it's obviously not the case. It's intrinsically and historically unfair."

    Said Lurie: "I don't like to see that kind of thing. I don't think it's good for football when a terrific young player like Steve Hutchinson gets involved in a poison-pill contract where a team that drafted him and invested in him [finds it] impossible to proceed. That was not the spirit ... at all. It's a shame. I hate to see that."

    Carolina Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney was among a minority who seemed unconcerned by the circumstances.

    "When you make a decision to put a transition tag," he said, "you make that decision with all the alternatives in mind. That's what you weigh out when you make decisions like that. You need to know everything that can happen."

    The issue has left Brzezinski defending his otherwise pristine record as one of the NFL's most well-regarded executives.

    "Throughout my career," he said, "I've always operated in what's been in the best interest of the NFL and the system. I hope my own personal track record would indicate that. I think in this case, we had what we deemed an exceptional, unique player, and my interest had to be first and foremost to the Vikings and our owner."

    The Seahawks responded to Hutchinson's contract by signing Vikings receiver Nate Burleson to an offer sheet that included two similar poison pills. Brzezinski acknowledged Burleson's deal "was a shot across our bow," but said he never intended for the Hutchinson issue to start a war between franchises.

    In fact, Brzezinski said, a Seahawks official has told him they would not have matched Hutchinson's contract even without the poison pill.

    "So setting all this controversy aside," Brzezinski said. "Seattle wasn't harmed. There is an issue out there, and it's been brought to everybody's attention, but in this case there does not appear to be any harm because they wouldn't have matched anyway."

    Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    ...Brzezinski said he has discussed the matter "at length" with league officials in recent years, pointing out the myriad ways to craft an unfavorable offer sheet for transition players and restricted free agents. In Hutchinson's case, Brzezinski inserted a clause that would be triggered if he was not the team's highest-paid offensive lineman in 2006.

    The clause was written specifically to inhibit the Seahawks, who already were paying left tackle Walter Jones more than Hutchinson was set to receive; the Vikings faced no such predicament. The language was upheld March 20 by special master Stephen Burbank, who ruled that it was legal under the terms of the CBA...

    ...In fact, Brzezinski said, a Seahawks official has told him they would not have matched Hutchinson's contract even without the poison pill.
    The name stands. Rob 'Poison Pill' Brzezinski.

  3. #3
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    "When you make a decision to put a transition tag," he said, "you make that decision with all the alternatives in mind. That's what you weigh out when you make decisions like that. You need to know everything that can happen."



    I will admit it was shady. I will also admit I really don't care. At the end of the day we came out on top. We have a great guard on our team.

    Fans aren't meant to be drug through this contract bullshit. I think it is a marketing ploy by the NFL to inflate an allready enormous cash flow. They make bank during the season. Now they are trying to pad the wallets during the offseason by creating drama.

  4. #4
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    By Rob's admission to inserting the "poison pill", does it change the clause to something other than a "principle term" of the contract?

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  5. #5
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    "singersp" wrote:
    By Rob's admission to inserting the "poson pill", does it change the clause to something other than a "principle term" of the contract?
    I was wondering the same thing. The deal is done. Could this make it resurface? That would be an interesting twist. Doubt it though, probably wasn't the wisest of moves to admit that.

  6. #6
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    "singersp" wrote:
    By Rob's admission to inserting the "poson pill", does it change the clause to something other than a "principle term" of the contract?
    I think that ship has sailed. There is no going back now.

  7. #7
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    "Del Rio" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    By Rob's admission to inserting the "poison pill", does it change the clause to something other than a "principle term" of the contract?
    I think that ship has sailed. There is no going back now.
    But the Burleson ship hasn't pulled out of the harbor yet.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  8. #8
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    POISON PILLS TO BE ADDRESSED
    28 March 2006
    Mike Florio


    Howard Balzer reports that the NFL plans to address the "poison pill" clauses used in recent weeks to craft an offer sheet that would become fully guaranteed if the player's original team matches it. The Vikings and Seahawks have engaged in a tit-for-tat battle along these lines over the past couple of weeks.

    NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said that such terms "are not in the spirit of the deal," and "will be addressed."

    Minnesota fired the first shot by signing Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson to a seven-year, $49 million contract containing a provision making the deal fully guaranteed if Hutchinson isn't the highest paid offensive lineman on the team at any point during the 2006 league year. The Seahawks initially planned to challenge the provision based on an argument that such a term violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players' union. In the end, the Seahawks reworked the contract of left tackle Walter Jones, and argued that the restructured deal solved the problem.

    They lost.

    Four days later, the Seahawks signed Vikings receiver Nate Burleson to a seven-year, $49 million contract containing a provision making the deal fully guaranteed if Burleson plays five or more games in the state of Minnesota in any year of the contract, and if Burleson's per-year average is greater than the average salary of all of the team's running backs.

    If unchanged, this practice invites any team to craft an offer sheet containing grossly inflated salaries in the back end of the deal and a provision making the contract fully guaranteed if the guy plays in five games in his original team's stadium during any year of the deal.

    Tagliabue plans to talke with NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw next week regarding the issue.

    "We need to address it," Tagliabue said. "By the time I talk to Gene, I will know the issues and what to suggest as a solution."

    Here's the solution -- any term that guarantees all or part of the deal for the team matching the offer but that does not guarantee all or part of the deal for the team making the offer should be prohibited because it necessarily compels the team that matches the deal to forfeit its ability to terminate the contract prematurely.

    Whether Upshaw will agree remains to be seen. But since it's generally regarded in league circles that the NFLPA stuck it to the league as to the non-economic terms of the new CBA, the least Upshaw can do is to help Tagliabue clear up an issue that renders the transition tag meaningless, and that undermines the process of restricted free agency.

  9. #9
    t_13 is offline Rookie
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    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    we should build the new stadium just beyond the min-ia border (but still call em minnesota vikings) just to piss em off about nates deal

  10. #10
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    Re: Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

    Why would the NFLPA agree to admend the deal? The players for the most part hate the "TAGS". The owners missed the boat on this one.
    300

    The rigors of Spartan life. Leonidas is cast out into the wild, and survives the harsh winter to return to his home, when he is crowned King ....a Viking!

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