Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

Joined: August 25th, 2002, 3:44 pm

May 16th, 2007, 12:09 am #1

Vikings: A bitter 'poison pill' to swallow

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

By 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."
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Joined: July 31st, 2002, 3:17 am

May 16th, 2007, 12:56 am #2

...are you posting an article from 14 months ago? Am I missing something?

Go11
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Joined: August 25th, 2002, 3:44 pm

May 16th, 2007, 2:34 am #3

I got it in a email for a old Viking friend ~ He was talking about the Pill and about how Nate got his dropped by the Seahawks ~ I meant to ask anyone knew if there was anything like that in Hutchs deal ~

Sorry about that ~ I meant to post Nate press release but posted this one ~ Oh well ~
Last edited by Vikadan11 on May 16th, 2007, 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: July 25th, 2002, 3:20 am

May 16th, 2007, 5:13 am #4

Were those guys not claiming some sort of retalitory victory in snatching away our then-best veteran receiver? To tell you the truth, I would not mind having Burly back, but that is based more on the quality and experience of those currently on our roster than it is based on how good Burly is.

PEACE
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Joined: July 29th, 2002, 2:43 am

May 16th, 2007, 6:06 am #5

Good to have on the team but not great. Slightly better than a #3 receiver but not a main man kind of guy.
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Joined: October 28th, 2002, 8:45 pm

May 16th, 2007, 1:32 pm #6

Were those guys not claiming some sort of retalitory victory in snatching away our then-best veteran receiver? To tell you the truth, I would not mind having Burly back, but that is based more on the quality and experience of those currently on our roster than it is based on how good Burly is.

PEACE
Burleson is still a Seahawk unless there is a very new development. I believe Vikadan is referring to the fact that Seattle announced that Burleson's contract had been restructured thus eliminating the last two years of the deal which pushed the thing up to match the 49 million Hutch signed. (Just Seattle confirming what everyone knew all along)

Here's a blurb on the deal:

May 10 Mike Sando, of the Tacoma News Tribune, reports the Seattle Seahawks have restructured WR Nate Burleson's contract. His contract is now a five-year deal with last season counted as the first year, meaning he will become an unrestricted free-agent in 2010. Burleson is scheduled to receive $2.75 million this season and $3.25 million in 2008 and 2009.
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Joined: July 24th, 2002, 12:59 pm

May 16th, 2007, 1:52 pm #7

Were those guys not claiming some sort of retalitory victory in snatching away our then-best veteran receiver? To tell you the truth, I would not mind having Burly back, but that is based more on the quality and experience of those currently on our roster than it is based on how good Burly is.

PEACE
The Seahawks simply voided the ridiculously inflated out years of his seven year deal, as they were entitled to do. He is still playing under a 3 or 4 year deal, with base salary this year of something like $2.75 million IIRC, which isn't bad walking around money.

The initial deal totalled up to a cumulative total of something similar to the $49 million in the Hutchinson deal. But it was obvious from the start that much of it was lumped in the final 3 or 4 years of the deal and would never be paid. It still was a lucrative deal for a receiver of Burleson's credentials; even more so after he turned out to be disappoinment for them most of last year.

Still think, given the mediocrity of last year's Viking WRs, that the Vikes screwed up by not tendering Burleson at a 1st round compensation tender level, which would have meant paying him last year around $1.4 million or so. No one woulld have given him an offer sheet if they had to give up a first rounder for him.

While he was a disappointment for Seattle last year, I think that was in part due to their not using him as effectively as the Vikings had. He's not a #1 receiver by any stretch, but he can be effective, especially, after the catch, when used to his best advantage.

Holmgren's offense seems to demand more complexity in how WRs run routes than most. Burleson apparently didn't grasp the nuances of the system as well as was expected and was used fairly sparingly most of the year. Childress' 3 and 4 yard routes are easier to master and when your competition is the likes of Billy
McMullen, you can get a lot more playing time to show your stuff.
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Joined: July 25th, 2002, 3:20 am

May 16th, 2007, 7:52 pm #8

Burleson is still a Seahawk unless there is a very new development. I believe Vikadan is referring to the fact that Seattle announced that Burleson's contract had been restructured thus eliminating the last two years of the deal which pushed the thing up to match the 49 million Hutch signed. (Just Seattle confirming what everyone knew all along)

Here's a blurb on the deal:

May 10 Mike Sando, of the Tacoma News Tribune, reports the Seattle Seahawks have restructured WR Nate Burleson's contract. His contract is now a five-year deal with last season counted as the first year, meaning he will become an unrestricted free-agent in 2010. Burleson is scheduled to receive $2.75 million this season and $3.25 million in 2008 and 2009.
For whatever reason I read the original post to mean that Burleson was waived. <Gilda Radner voice>Never mind</Gilda Radner voice>

PEACE
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Joined: July 25th, 2002, 3:20 am

May 16th, 2007, 7:55 pm #9

The Seahawks simply voided the ridiculously inflated out years of his seven year deal, as they were entitled to do. He is still playing under a 3 or 4 year deal, with base salary this year of something like $2.75 million IIRC, which isn't bad walking around money.

The initial deal totalled up to a cumulative total of something similar to the $49 million in the Hutchinson deal. But it was obvious from the start that much of it was lumped in the final 3 or 4 years of the deal and would never be paid. It still was a lucrative deal for a receiver of Burleson's credentials; even more so after he turned out to be disappoinment for them most of last year.

Still think, given the mediocrity of last year's Viking WRs, that the Vikes screwed up by not tendering Burleson at a 1st round compensation tender level, which would have meant paying him last year around $1.4 million or so. No one woulld have given him an offer sheet if they had to give up a first rounder for him.

While he was a disappointment for Seattle last year, I think that was in part due to their not using him as effectively as the Vikings had. He's not a #1 receiver by any stretch, but he can be effective, especially, after the catch, when used to his best advantage.

Holmgren's offense seems to demand more complexity in how WRs run routes than most. Burleson apparently didn't grasp the nuances of the system as well as was expected and was used fairly sparingly most of the year. Childress' 3 and 4 yard routes are easier to master and when your competition is the likes of Billy
McMullen, you can get a lot more playing time to show your stuff.
.... and I agree that the Vikings screwed the pooch by offering Nate Burleson less than a first round tender.

PEACE
Last edited by Wembley_Awesome on May 16th, 2007, 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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