Big NFL news today that will have a major impact on reaching a new collective bargaining agreement. The Players Association won a key battle last night when a judge ruled the league can't collect money from their enormous television contracts during a lockout. We'll look at the decision and what it means in greater detail a little later, but let's just say the players gained some leverage.
That apparently did not stop Mike Vick from signing his franchise tender. The Eagles' quarterback reportedly put his mark on a one-year contract today worth an estimated $16 million, ensuring he'll be at the helm whenever the 2011 season begins.
David Akers, on the other hand, will not be inking any binding documents in the immediate future, per Jeff McLane. The club's most tenured player is still disappointed by the transition designation, a qualifying one-year offer worth about $2.8 mil. Are the Birds doing Akers dirty, or should he take what he can get?
The transition tag works a bit different from the franchise tag. Teams often won't negotiate with a franchise player due to the high price of signing, a first- and a third-round pick. In Vick's and other "exclusive rights" cases, teams simply were not allowed not make an offer.
There are no such restrictions on a transition player. Any team in the league can make Akers an offer, but the Eagles then have seven days to match.
That really doesn't seem so bad on the surface. However, some front offices won't even bother looking at Akers once free agency begins, anticipating the Eagles would likely match any reasonable offer. That limits his ability to get the best possible deal. In the event that it prevents any team at all from jumping into the fray, he'll be stuck working on a one-year deal. Sure, it's good money, but time and time again we say it: players want the security of a multi-year deal.
Of course, it makes sense for Akers to stand pat before testing the free agent waters. It's questionable whether any organization would be willing to make the kind of offer necessary to pry a transition status kicker away. It's not impossible though. A contending franchise with a kicking game that "left something to be desired" last season might be willing to break the bank on a two- or three-year deal. Maybe, maybe not.
From an organizational standpoint, it appears the Eagles could be setting up for life without Akers. At 36-years-old, his days as an elite kicker are coming to an end, and their willingness to only give one-year may be a sign the organization will soon move in another direction entirely. Or, perhaps it's just part of their stance on not doing business during an uncertain labor period, and a long term cotnract could still be on the table once that gets resolved.
One thing that remains clear is David Akers isn't harboring any ill-will over his supposed run-in with Andy Reid's bus, at least not out in the open. His agent reiterated Akers wants to stay in Philadelphia, but he is simply seeking a multi-year deal, one that might endure for the remainder of his career. Is that too much to ask, or are the Eagles taking the right approach, which is business as usual?
But hey, Mike Vick.