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Manning, Brees, Mankins, Jackson need to quit trying to cut their own deals


Earlier today, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that Patriots guard Logan Mankins and Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson have requested either free agency or $10 million each in exchange for their signature on the settlement of the case. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe later reported (as we had pointed out several weeks ago) that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Saints quarterback Drew Brees want to be exempt from the franchise tag.

Adam Schefter of ESPN now reports that Jackson’s agents, Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, have indeed made that request on their client’s behalf. Schefter reports that Mankins has yet to make any such demands.

But does that mean Mankins doesn’t want free agency or more money? It’s more likely that Mankins is sensitive to the potential P.R. fallout, both in the locker room and beyond, and that he wants to be more subtle and discreet. (Mankins can feel free to prove us wrong by publicly declaring that he doesn’t want any special treatment.)

Schefter’s new report doesn’t address the separate report that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Saints quarterback Drew Brees also are seeking a promise not to be restricted by the franchise tag.

Regardless of what any of the named plaintiffs want or don’t want for themselves, the fact that they’re trying to get anything for themselves remains highly offensive. They signed up to represent the class of all players, not themselves. Any of those guys could have opted not to join the class action, and they could have filed their own lawsuits. Instead, they chose to represent their 1,890 union brethren.

So at a time when they’re supposed to be representing all players, what are Jackson and Mankins and Manning and Brees doing? They’re trying to cut their own deals.

And what does that sound like? It sounds like precisely what the NFL did when it was supposed to be maxing out the shared TV revenue in 2009, but instead cut its own deal for lockout insurance.

We’ve believed since we first heard of the “lockout insurance” case that the NFL was in the wrong. We now believe that Jackson and Mankins and Manning and Brees are just as wrong for abusing their position as representatives of all other players in order to get something for themselves.

Indeed, if the other 1,890 players knew that something may be in it for them, they would have signed up for the lawsuit, too. Mankins and Jackson and Manning and Brees weren’t picked because they are true believers or because they planned to be involved in the litigation (they weren’t); they were picked because of their name recognition.

Here’s hoping that NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith stands up and exercises real leadership here, especially as to Manning and Brees, who don’t need the leverage or the money that goes along with it. (Manning particularly has done nothing to earn special consideration.) As to Mankins and Jackson, they were victimized by the last year of a labor deal that was favorable to the players; maybe the right answer is for the NFLPA* to divert some of the lockout fund (secret or otherwise) to them.