Report: DeMaurice Smith Told Agents to Work Together on NFL Free-Agent Contracts

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2021

Executive director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith speaks during a press conference ahead of Super Bowl 55, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (Perry Knotts/NFL via AP)
Perry Knotts/Associated Press

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reportedly told agents that they should "collude" in free agency to help their clients, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.

Smith spoke to the agents Thursday in a videoconference and said they should work together to ensure teams weren't taking advantage of players amid changes to the salary cap for 2021.

As Graziano noted, it is illegal for teams to collude against the players, but there are no laws or rules against the players taking part in a similar practice. The agents would be able to get accurate numbers about which teams are offering what amounts in free agency.

Teams will have to make some adjustments this offseason after the salary cap drops from $198.2 million in 2020 to somewhere around $180 million per team in 2021. Losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic could affect the cap in 2022 and 2023 as well.

The Carolina Panthers have already released four players to clear nearly $20 million in cap space, per David Newton of ESPN. High-priced players like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have been moved in trades, too.

There could be many more cap casualties before the start of the new league year on March 17, as well as renegotiated contracts to create more cap room. Smith's suggestion could ensure the players have all the information they need before agreeing to anything that would hurt their earning power.