Bill Polian: Next NFL CBA will focus on commissioner power

By Scott Carasik
Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Bill Polian is introduced at the 2015 Hall of Fame game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Goodell has irked the NFLPA with his actions during this current term for the Collective Bargaining Agreement. While the agreement runs through 2021, issues are already popping up as hot topics for the upcoming NFL CBA, set to be negotiated in five years.

Bill Polian suggests that the scope of the commissioner’s power will be the main focus for the NFLPA in negotiations:

And he’s probably right. The NFLPA (and the players, for that matter) hasn’t been happy with how discipline has been handled under Goodell’s tenure and could feel that he’s a bit of a stooge for the owner’s to use. Goodell acting as judge, jury and executioner was bad enough. But he’s also the appeals court and final determinant as well, it seems.

This is a situation that will be addressed in the next CBA because it just isn’t right for him to have that much control over discipline. The solution that makes the most sense here is to have a panel that’s 50-50 in composition of players and ownership/executives similar to the competition committee.

They would be the judge, jury and executioner and would also hear all of the appeals. The commissioner wouldn’t even have a spot at the table for this committee, and it would save the league a lot of headache.

However, there might be an issue that will overshadow this one in the future — franchise tags and rookie contracts.

Teams can currently control first-round draft picks very easily with franchise tags and fifth-year options for the first seven seasons of their careers. The first four years even for top picks comes in at a very affordable contract (for those not named Ezekiel Elliott) that tops out around $6 million per season. After that, the fifth-year options have been ranging from $11-to-15 million, acting as a first franchise tag.

The next part is where it gets really tricky. The sixth and seventh seasons can be controlled with both a non-exclusive and an exclusive franchise tag that give control of the player’s first seven seasons to the drafting franchise. The average NFL career is three seasons long, and even the highest longevity among first round draft pick will top out around 12-13 seasons.

This doesn’t allow for much player movement unless the guy is a bust or a later-round pick. And when guys truly are good players, it forces them to stick with the team that drafted them for a contract that is below market value just one season after signing it. So while the commissioner’s powers will be an issue, don’t be shocked to see some hold up regarding franchise tags as well.

On that note, Von Miller is attempting to change the mold already.

Bill Polian is right in saying that commissioner power is an issue. But he ignores what’s making the world go round here. The money that players receive in their first seven seasons has been more controlled than ever due to the new rules surrounding rookie contracts and franchise tags.

Which issue will be bigger can only be addressed when they head back to the negotiating table.