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Haves vs. Nots?

Haves vs. Nots?

Is the NFL headed towards a multi-lateral war?

At least one team owner thinks it may be. From David Elfin in the Washington Times: After 45 years as a pro football owner, Buffalo's 86-year-old Ralph Wilson has earned the right to be heard. So when Wilson says the NFL's ongoing collective bargaining agreement discussion is more of a club vs. club than league vs. union problem, it requires some attention.

As an owner in one of the NFL's smallest markets, Wilson doesn't like the growing disparity in revenue between the big-money clubs and the rest of the league, nor what he perceives as the richer group's disdain for the less wealthy majority.
We've visited this before, but it's worth another look as each passing day seems to have the three sides--the so-called "rich" owners, the "low-revenue" owners and the players--hunkering down a little bit more into their respective positions. The higher-revenue owners want to be able to keep what they have in terms of income from luxury seating, stadium naming rights, concessions and parking, the less-wealthy owners want their cut and the players want a bigger slice of the pie.

Wilson's remarks had the same whiny tone as have those of Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney:
There's about eight or 10 of the high-revenue clubs that seem to be united in a bloc. They want to keep the disparity. They want to knock us down and have us get up at the count of nine, so they can have another fight and knock us down again.
That doesn't mean he and his fellow have-not owners don't have a case, at least a partial one. Nobody would buy a $250 club seat and a $7 beer to watch the Redskins play the Redskins, or at least they wouldn't do it eight times a year. As Marvin Gaye sang with Kim Weston, "It Takes Two." There needs to be a reasonably competitive contest on the field for people to shell out that kind of money. If the Bills visit FedEx Field, they are entitled to a reasonable share of the revenue that such an event generates and the definition of reasonable could include a cut of the luxury seat revenue, concessions, and parking.

Where the case of the owners like Wilson is at it weakest, however, is when he frets about competitive balance being affected.
We just want to have enough revenue under the new collective bargaining agreement that gives us a chance to field a competitive team. If we don't get that, then along the line the league is going to be totally unbalanced. It's not going to be the league it used to be.
Let's see here, Wilson's team was eliminated from the playoffs on the last weeked of the season. The Colts, who, according to this article, take in about half the revenue that the Redskins do, have gone deep into the playoff for the last few years. Rooney's Steelers went 15-1 and lost in the AFC title game. Meanwhile, two of the primary teams in the gang of ten bullies, the Redskins and Cowboys, both went 6-10. It's hard to make a case that this "imbalance" in revenue is having any effect on the field.

And hey, Ralph, if you want to play in Ralph Wilson Stadium, fine. I'm sure that the NFL owners who have sold the naming rights for their stadiums would probably rather have the buildings named after them, too. But it's a luxury that, in their view, they can't afford. Wilson has made a choice here and the other owners shouldn't, in essence, pay him for the luxury of having his own name on the stadium.

Along those lines, what assurances are there that any revenue that Snyder, Jerry Jones and the others might share with Wilson, Rooney and company would get put towards making their football teams more competitive (assuming that that is a necessity)? Will they put the money into more scouting, better video or workout equipment, more quality coaches, or will they just pocket the cash? This is what has happened in baseball as the Yankees, Red Sox, and others pay into a fund that's supposed to help competitive balance. Some of the receipients of the so-called luxury tax have spent to try to improve their teams; others have simply put it on to the bottom line. There is little reason to believe that the NFL owners would not fall into the same line.

And changing the revenue-sharing formula is not just a matter of fairness, it's one of cold, hard fiscal reality. Ralph Wilson didn't put a dime into the stadium that's named after him and he paid off any debt he may have incurred in buying the team long, long ago. Daniel Snyder is making mortgage payments on FedEx Field and on the Redskins and when the financing was set up, it was presumed that he would have all of the luxury seating revenue in order to make the payments. Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans:
If you come back in and change the model and take too much away from them, then they don't have enough money to service the debut. You've got people, just like ourselves, who paid big money for the franchise based on the existing model. If you change that model, all of sudden you're taking away the value you've paid for. Those factors have to be addressed.
Most of the money we're talking about here is also exempt from being calculated into the formula that determines what the salary cap is and that, naturally, has the interest of Gene Upshaw and the player's union. Just like one could make a reasonable arguement that the visiting team deserves a share of the "untouchable" revenue, the players do, too. In fact, you could make a much stronger case for the players getting a bigger cut.

But this leads to sticky problems in that you can't share luxury revenue with the players without sharing it with the "poor" owners because they will scream that they can't afford a higher salary cap without higher revenues. So a deal with the players can't be achieved without one among the owners.

The NFL has a great way of coming up with creative solutions to issues such as this. Paul Taglibue and the rest of the league will have their imaginations taxed to the max as they try to come up with a solution to this one.

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS LINKING 'SKINS TO BAKER MAYFIELD

  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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