Kiwaunuka Calls NFL Contracts Unfair..............

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    After pay cut, Kiwanuka calls NFL contracts “unfair to players”

    Posted by Michael David Smith on June 17, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT
    [​IMG]Getty Images

    Just because Mathias Kiwanuka agreed to the pay cut he took to stay with the Giants this year, that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

    Kiwanuka railed against NFL contracts in general and the situation he found himself in specifically when he saw his pay for 2014 slashed from $4.375 million to $1.5 million. Kiwanuka said he went along with the Giants’ request to take a pay cut in large part because his wife had a baby in April and he didn’t want to uproot his family this offseason, but he doesn’t appreciate the fact that NFL teams can cut a player at any time.

    “It’s something that is bargained collectively and for me, as an individual, you only have one action or recourse and that is to withhold your services and hold out,” Kiwanuka told Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger. “There is no market for you to shop your skills around. That is the part that is very unfair to players. We’ve come a long way, I can’t imagine playing in the league without free agency, there has been progress. It is more fair than it has been in the past but that doesn’t mean it’s fair or equal now.”

    Kiwanuka believes NFL contracts should be structured more like Major League Baseball contracts, so that the whole deal is guaranteed.

    “If we are going to be playing on these contracts, make them contracts,” Kiwanuka said. “Either that or everyone sign a one-year deal every year and we’ll do it that way. It’s not fair to be locked in somewhere and have that place say that we’ve decided not to honor the rest of the deal. I don’t think it is a contract by definition if one side can opt out of it at any point and the other has no recourse.”

    Although he described himself as “very angry and very upset” when he first found out the Giants were going to force him to take a pay cut or get cut, he also described himself as a “team player” who will do everything the Giants ask of him. He just wishes NFL teams weren’t so often asking players to take less money.
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Yes I know this topic deals with a non-Bears player but not necessarily with a non-Bears issue. I posted it here so we could discuss the structure of NFL player contracts and whether or not they're unfair to players as Kiwanuka suggests.

    Specifically should contracts be guaranteed in some fashion such as a limitation placed on how much of a pay cut a team can ask a player to take under the threat of releasing him. I just figured that with some dead time coming up after mini-camp this might be a good topic to explore since it's also affected Bears players including Earl Bennett who was just released by the Browns soon after they signed him. Earl was offered that opportunity to take a pay cut by the Bears and declined. Now he's on the street again.

    I really don't want to get into the type of debate where someone says "geez he's still making $1.5 mil so what's he complaining about". "I should be so lucky". I'm into discussing and debating the principles involved for both parties here not the dollar amounts. What's fair to the player and what's fair to the team? Of course none of this will make a bit of difference since the current CBA has about another 8 or 9 years to run but are players being hosed by teams asking them to accept a massive pay cut or be released?

    I'll start with a few of my own thoughts in the next post.
  3. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    One side of me says that Kiwanuka should have a better agent. One who should have already explained to him that by in large many NFL contracts are a series of one year deals. It's been that way forever which is why players bargain for upfront signing bonuses and certain salary guarantees. If he didn't get that message from his agent then he should switch agents.

    Note: He did receive an $8.5 mil SB in 2012 in conjunction with a 4 year/$17.75 mil deal with $10.95 mil guaranteed and so far he's received that amount. It's the remaining $6.8 mil that's being reduced.

    But the one point that sticks out in all of this to me is the timing factor. Here he has a point.

    “There is no market for you to shop your skills around. That is the part that is very unfair to players".

    It's now mid June and it with teams roster at their max for OTAs and mini-camps and cap dollars scarce following FA and the draft it probably is difficult for players for fairly market themselves this late in the preseason. Had Kiwanuka been asked prior to the beginning of FA he may have declined and sought a better offer in the open market and may have gotten it. But this late in the game? Probably not.

    So one question is should teams have a deadline date that coincides with the beginning of FA as far as asking a player to accept a salary cut? Say something like up until 3-7 days prior to the beginning of FA to give a range. At least that way a player could decide whether or not to accept the cut and whether or not to try his luck in FA.

    The other questions I'd pose is should their be a limitation on just how much a players base salary can be reduced. What percentage of the previous amount would be fair. 70%, 60%, 50%? Also should the team be allowed to substitute incentives for a portion of that reduction to meet the minimum.

    For instance although Kiwanuka's base salary dropped by nearly 70% the deal includes a roster bonus of $700k and incentives of $125k so he could make as much as $2.235 mil or roughly 50% of his previous base salary if he makes the team and hits those incentives.

    I'm trying hard to see this issue from both sides. After all NY agreed to pay him $10.95 mil guaranteed and if he'd never played another down of football for them they'd have been on the hook for it especially the $8.5 mil that was deposited in his bank account the day he signed his contract. But from Kiwanuka's perspective he also has a valid point.

    If early this year he and his family made financial commitments based on the assumption that he would be receiving checks for $4.775 mil once the season began, now 6 months later, there's certainly some adjusting that needs to be done. Even if he collects all of the base plus bonus and incentives he just took at least a 50% cut in pay. That's big.

    So these are just a few things I thought I'd toss out to see if we could discuss these player contracts and whether or not there is a fairer way to write them and still protect both sides. The NFL won big time during these last round of CBA negotiations and they know it or they would not have locked it up for 10 years.

    Let's beat this thing around a little and see what everyone's feelings are and what their belief system tells them would be most fair if this isn't it.
  4. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Reducing the amount it can be reduced would just lead to these guys getting cut in my opinion. I do like the concept of any reductions in pay need to be finalized before the start of free agency. It would allow the guys to make a decision with an opportunity to get another job in FA much like Earl Bennett did, just did not work out for him in Cleveland.

    It seems to me this is why they have guaranteed money in the contracts in the form of bonuses. This was the intent in my opinion to protect the players. As long as we discuss these contracts they need to look at rookie contracts also. I fully support not giving them the big dollars before they take their first NFL snap. Going 4 or 5 years without the right to renegotiate is unfair as well. The average life of a RB is equivilent so he basically gets the rookie contract and is done. Potentially yr 2 they know if a drafted player is any good and it seems to me some sort of compensation should be offered to those that warrant the higher pay. A. Jeffries is a good example of a player grossly underpaid who should not have to risk his future pay because of injury and not be paid his present worth.

    It works well for the teams now and salary cap but it does kind of screw the pooch. Like Soul said not getting into alternative pays stocking grocery shelves, but for pay as a NFL player they should not be penalized for 4 or 5 years because they were the dreaded rookie.
  5. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    This past contract made Kiu 10mil guaranteed, and that was probably his 3rd contract since he was drafted in 06, I'd say those unfair contracts have set he and his family up for generational wealth if he's properly saved; I'd take one of those "unfair" contracts in a heartbeat.

    rookie contracts are fine, but I would think they need to have the option of renegotiation if they've met some standard, ie started more then x% of games or taken y% of snaps over the first 2 years of the deal. That way guys that have clearly worked out have the ability to negotiate into another contract more inline what they are doing.
  6. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    Well, lets face it, young players have a better chance of playing out their contract. In fact, how many actually DO play it out? Their contracts usually get re-worked.

    I'm a big right to work guy. If you're performance is down, so should your contract. I am NO fan of any guarantee contract.

    Let's face it, how much money do NFL teams just waste on players who don't perform? Not every player misses a game for a broken thumb. However, you have players like Steve Deberg who played with a HUGE ASS cast on his hand. He loves to play, and it showed.

    Too many players love to get paid. They honestly don't give a shit about the game. What I mean is how many times do you see players coking and smoking mid-field as if someone told a joke? You just got your ass kicked and you think it's a vacation.

    So while I think some things are unfair, this isn't one of them. If you play bad, can they re-write your contract?

    Make contracts performance based, this solve everything.

    Also, as you get old, you should know your value is going down. Expect to make less on the back nine holes. It's life.

    One last thing. You can market your skills... The CFL is a short drive north.
  7. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Pro-Bowler

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    I believe that NFL contracts are inherently in favor of the team and not the player. This is why you see players try to get as much guaranteed money as they can. However, the players have done this to themselves. If their union had shown any sort of strength and stayed off the field when they walked, they might have better contract situations. Instead they caved...twice...and now this is what they get. However...these guys EARN their money. If you've ever seen a pro football player the day after the game try to walk like a normal human being you know what I'm talking about. They DESERVE every dime they get paid and then some when you consider how much money the league is making overall.
  8. VJ18

    VJ18 Veteran

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    Sorry but I have no pity for them, its their choice to wake up in the morning and do their profession. Also hold outs are a joke, yea let me try holding out on my job.... they would tell me to take a perminat vacation
  9. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    agreed vj, don't tell me about how hard it is. It's the ONLY reason they get paid as much as they do. If they didn't want to do it, they could take a change of lifestyle and do something else, they choose not to.

    That being said they do earn it, and the reason they earn it is b/c the owners have invested multi millions in it, and are willing to pay the players 10 if not 100's of millions to play it.

    Hold out suck more then their scab counterparts do.
  10. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    The money the league or team makes is irrelavant.

    I've seen a player walk after a game. I'm not sure what I'm looking for. They may be sore, but they are no different than ANY football player.

    I think teams could do a better job managing the revenue.

    For starters, I think cheerleaders make nothing, yet a player who only sees the field during warm-ups make $420k (rookie).

    I do not think they deserve it. They don't have to play. It's their choice.

    I hardly have sympathy for a player who makes over $10M a year. Sorry.

    Can you imagine making $1million per month?
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  11. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    That's why I respect the hell out of guys like Neal Anderson who had a plan of playing 8 years and then be out. RB up in Minny did the same thing, they got their money and got out before they suffered any serious long term inj's.
  12. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    Exactly. I don't blame them. I also don't feel sorry for them.

    It frustrates me when I see players sue the NFL over injuries. Thats why you make the big bucks!
  13. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Pro-Bowler

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    You cannot compare what you do to what they do. Just like you can't compare what you do to what I do. Take your emotion out of the argument.
  14. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Pro-Bowler

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    Again...you are all looking it emotionally instead of objectively. Sure...they make a lot of money, then they pay 50% in tax, plus tax to the state they play their game in, then tax to the state they live in, then 3% to their agent, and so on and so forth. Nobody is asking you to "FEEL BAD" for them. The debate was whether NFL contracts are fair to the players. This is not an emotional debate about whether they are set for life(the quality of that life is to be debated) or what their choice of career is. You chose your career, so don't complain about how much others are making.
  15. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Pro-Bowler

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    Not all of them made big bucks, and not all of them are taken care of the way they should be after they retire.
  16. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Pro-Bowler

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    Also...if you were as valuable to your job as these guys are to their jobs...then you wouldn't get fired...you'd get a raise. Thats called the free market brotha.
  17. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    min pay is around 400K, and even the scrubs that don't play on Sunday's get paid it. 6 figs even for 1 year should set these guys up for the rest of their lives; 400 fig's over 4 years is nearly 2 mil and they can still find legit work after it's all said and done with. If it didn't set themselves up then they did it wrong.
  18. butkus3595

    butkus3595 Pro-Bowler

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    Thats not what is being debated here. And it's really less than a million once you figure in taxes and fees to agents and the like.
  19. Ski-Whiz

    Ski-Whiz George Halas Staff Member

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    I don't think one of them pay 50% tax. Not anymore than Apple paying tax.

    There is no emotion. I just feel that they get paid enough as compensation for the wear on their bodies. You know the risks, yet continue to play.
  20. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Glad to see this stirred up a little discussion but there's still that element of how much they make in some of the posts. I wanted to avoid that aspect of it. Whether the deal is for $10k or $10 mil the real question is should a team be able to simply reduce a players pay under the threat that they'll release him any time they want or should there be some restrictions like when and how much.

    Ski I hear ya' on some of this but the CFL is really not an alternative. Besides the fact that the pay isn't nearly comparable CFL teams are restricted to a certain number of non-Canadian players so IHMO that's really not a free market exchange. It's almost like telling a guy with a MS in engineering that he can always clean the fryers at McDonald's be cause he knows how they're designed to operate.

    I'll stick a few more thoughts in here. Hold outs are virtually a thing of the past. The CBA now permits team to fine players under contract huge amounts of money for missing mandatory team activities and games. So that option has been pretty effectively taken away and so has the option to retire early. Kyle Orton is a no show in Dallas and so far his fine for missing just the mandatory mini camp is $70k. If he does retire the Cowboys will move to take back a $3 mil signing bonus he was given in his last deal.

    Taken at face value it would seem that NFL teams now have all of the power as far as forcing a player to honor the contract he signed and yet the teams do not. As Kiwanuka points out the initial agreement is bi-lateral but it can be altered uni-laterally at the whim of the team. Outside of pro football few employees would agree to such a deal. The only other comparison that immediately comes to mind is marriage in a state which permits no fault divorces. Both parties must agree to marry but it takes only one to ask for and receive a divorce from the other.

    This is the type of thing I wanted to debate. Is it fair in principle that a player must honor his contract as written but the team does not.

    As for rookies there in an NFL pool that qualifies them for bonus money if the amount of playing time they receive is in excess of a certain percentage of the teams plays. So lower round picks like Jordan Mills who received a moderate signing bonus but only a minimum salary actually end up doing far better monetarily. IIRC his was over $300k.

    I'd agree that Alshon Jeffery's rookie contract doesn't compensate him very well for his 2013 performance but Jeffery and others like him will likely receive a lucrative extension before their rookie contracts expire that will at least in part make up for that with the signing bonus they receive in the extension.

    Hey, it's an imperfect system no matter how you look at it but is it too one sided in favor of the teams now? We aren't talking about guys who feel they outplayed their deal and want more or they threaten to hold out. That's pretty much been done a way with. We're talking about whether or not it's fair for an employer to renege on a major portion of an agreement very arbitrarily as to the amount and the timing. By delaying this until after the free agency period has begun they can effectively force a player into accepting simply because his options for doing better are now greatly reduced.

    The spirit of Free Agency was to create an open market for players under certain restrictions that teams and players agreed upon. Is it possible that teams have now figured out a way to subvert that with certain key players?

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