NFL Labor Talks: Five Cleveland Brown Starters Remain Unsigned

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IMay 3, 2010

CLEVELAND - JANUARY 03:  Jerome Harrison #35 of the Cleveland Browns runs by Gerald Alexander #42 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Now that the draft is over, like every other team in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns now have to focus on getting all their players signed and in camp.

D'Qwell Jackson, Jerome Harrison, Lawrence Vickers, Abe Elam, and Matt Roth are the five restricted free agents who did not sign their second-round tenders prior to the April 15 deadline.

Their rights still remain with the Browns, but they have no contract.

While signing guys who aren't happy with their original offer is tough enough, the looming showdown over the Collective Bargaining Agreement adds a new wrinkle to the already-complicated situation.

Since the 2010 season is an uncapped year, teams are free to spend as much as they want on their rosters without penalty of a tax for spending over a pre-set cap. However, many teams have been reluctant to spend freely due to the unknown factors.

If a team spends too much money that carries over into 2011 and 2012, a new CBA could add penalties after the fact.

There's also the possibility of a lockout, which neither side wants, but it's out there, looming like an ugly summer thunderstorm.

The main problem with the Browns is their five unsigned players all made significant contributions last year, especially Harrison, who ran like Jim Brown the last four games of the season.

Jackson was one of the better linebackers and Roth became one of Mangini's best additions to the team.

While these players may be waiting to see if the owners and the union come to an agreement before training camp, which could happen even if it's a long shot, their holdouts affect how the team prepares for the coming season.

You can't blame a player for looking out for himself when it comes down to contract negotiations, but these players were offered second-round tenders and had no takers around the league.

The contracts are for one year, so it's not like these guys will be locked up through their prime and never have another chance to get a better contract. That being said, getting injured or having a bad year could lower their value even more.

If nothing else, their holdouts give the rookies more reps during OTAs and mini-camps.

The offseason is headed into the labor negotiation phase, so polish up on your legalese if you want to stay on top of things.


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