Big Bucks In The Works for Brady, Manning; CBA Issues Heat Up

Sara HannonCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2010

ATLANTA - AUGUST 19:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots sits on the bench during the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on August 19, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Patriots beat the Falcons 28-10.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

There's plenty of football news. If you can dig beyond the bluster of the Jets and the oh-so-controversial Tweeting of Chad Ochocinco, you'll find a few things that could effect the future of the league. 

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both in the final year of their contracts. The NFL is spiraling towards a lockout in 2011 and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). There might be 18 games in the 2012 regular season. And it's the all-important week three of the preseason where starters play most of the game. 

One would think that having Brady and Manning up for contract negotiations would be one of the summer's biggest stories. At least on the level of Albert Haynesworth's conditioning test or the Darelle Revis holdout. 

But the two teams and two men under discussion are football-focused and generally mum to the media on any issues. 

Brady looks to bounce back this season, another year removed from his knee injury, and he has his favorite weapons of Randy Moss and Wes Welker, plus shiny new tight-ends and a healthy troupe of running backs.

If his young defense picks it up this season, even in a difficult division with a killer schedule, the Patriots should make the playoffs. Again.

And Manning is consistently very good, winning accolades and games. Brady has more rings and is younger, so he should probably be paid a bit more, but both players are looking at contracts upwards of $100 million.  

So why haven't the New England Patriots and Indianapolis  Colts inked their franchise QBs to mega-million dollar deals? 

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Both teams want their star quarterbacks and are willing to fork up the cash, but both want to say their guy is the highest paid guy. Maybe Robert Kraft (Pats owner) and Jim Irsay (Colts owner) need to call each other up and pay them the exact same. 
  2. Irsay forgot Manning is payed to play football. Irsay is so used to seeing Manning on TV in one of his million commercials, he thought he was an actor. 
  3. Bill Bellichick and Kraft don't like Brady's haircut and are hoping to ink a deal once he gets it cut.
  4. Why pay a guy millions of dollars if you are just going to lock him out next year? 
At least one of those reasons is a joke. The prospect of no football next year is not, however. 

The NFL is one of the most successful companies in the country. And yes, it may be a game, but it is still a company in the business of making money.

The players want better health care, which they only receive for five years after retirement. Also, they don't want to add two games to the season, partially because they are concerned about injury and partially because they won't be paid extra for the extra games. 

The owners want more money. No one goes to the preseason games, so they want more butts in the seats eating popcorn and drinking beer.

As for the lockout? No problem. The owners get paid big bucks next year whether we watch football on Sundays or re-runs of I Love Lucy

The sides are only miles apart on the issues, and will grow further as the owners approved the "enhanced" season (AKA the 18 game one) today. That would have to be approved by the Players Union, and that's looking like a big, fat "no" at the moment. 

So how do we solve this quandary?

Some suggest a compromise of a 17-game season and three weeks of preseason. That won't work because it's not "fair". Some teams would get two home games, others only one.

Okay, how about 17 and two week preseason? And I bet if the owners lowered the price of the games, like baseball does for spring training, you would get more butts in the seats eating popcorn and drinking beer. That's probably not going to happen.

The players might agree to the 18-game season if they are paid for it and their health benefits are increased. It also wouldn't hurt to restructure the rookie salaries to be slotted like the NBA, allowing you to pay players based on their merit in the NFL as opposed to what they did in college.

Until this is all sorted out, expect delays on all contract negotiations, even the gimmes like Brady and Manning. And enjoy what football gives this season, we may have to wait another 18 months between this season's Super Bowl and the next season opener.