Monday we took our first step into looking at each and every article of the collective bargaining agreement of the NFL as the slow portion of the offseason sneaks closer. Here we’ll move right along to Article 2, which is the governing agreement of the collective bargaining agreement.
Article 2 is comprised of five separate sections, most of which are fairly basic, and much as we saw in Article 1, more along the lines of formalities necessary in any 300+ page legal document than digging too deep into specifics.
Sections 1 and 2 of the CBA, entitled Conflicts and Implementation, respectively, simply lay out the parties covered by the CBA and that all parties will use their best efforts to follow the rules as laid out. These parties include the NFL, the NFL Players Association, the NFL Management Council, players and teams.
Skipping ahead to Section 4, it is the section which effectively lays out that the CBA is the law of the land for the duration of the term covered by the agreement. In short, any subject for which rules and regulations are covered in the CBA can only be changed by mutual agreement of the parties involved. In contrast, Section 5 covers the topic of rounding, in order to make life simpler for the accountants tasked with calculating the financial sums due to players or teams under the CBA. In short, any and all amounts which are to be calculated under the CBA, such as minimum salaries, qualifying offers (ERFA tenders, etc), player salaries and such, are all to be rounded to the nearest $1,000 for the sake of simplicity.
Now, sliding back up to Section 3, this is a section which has inadvertently gained a significant amount of indirect attention in recent years, specifically as it relates to the New England Patriots and their relationship as a customer of TB12. TB12 is, of course, the nutrition and health company partially owned by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and it is this relationship which has brought forth many online accusations of the Pats circumventing the salary cap by paying Brady under the table.
In any case, the language of Article 2: Section 3 is as follows:
Section 3. Management Rights: The NFL Clubs maintain and reserve the right to manage and direct their operations in any manner whatsoever, except as specifically limited by the provisions of this Agreement.
In short, when running their business, as long as teams do not violate the terms of the CBA, they are free to run things as they see fit. That means that if a team has an outside agreement, such as the one the Patriots have with Brady, with a player on the roster, as long as it complies with the CBA’s regulations on the salary cap and other relevant regulations, it is perfectly fine under the CBA.
Specifically, as it relates to Brady’s TB12 venture for which the Pats are a customer, the NFL has stated, “We are aware of the arrangement and have not determined that there is any violation of the CBA.” and at the same time the NFLPA maintains the position that there is no salary cap implications from the Brady agreement.
Thus, if the Seattle Seahawks wanted to do something similar with Russell Wilson or one of their other players, as long as the agreement doesn’t violate the rules and regulations laid out by the CBA, then there is no violation. Now, one can call into question how well Brady’s agreement with the Pats was vetted by the league, but as for the official position of the NFL, the NFLPA and the Patriots, the Brady deal is above board.