Rather than just load up the Daily Links column, I figured it made the most sense to do one post with everything important I've found up until now.
Among fans, much of the debate centers on whether the owners offered a good deal, whether that deal represented real progress, and whether negotiations could have continued.
The players have finally responded as to why they didn't take the owners' offer. They certainly don't make it sound attractive, particularly the part where the owners get to keep all revenue that exceeds their own projections. Mike Florio does a nice job explaining the 'gaps' in the way the two parties interpret the numbers involved. This is probably the best explanation I've seen yet.
On Friday, the league offered to “split the difference” between $131 million and $151 million, with a figure of $141 million. We’re told, however, that the Friday offer omitted any additional money based on whether the league exceeds its projected revenue growth.
So the league didn’t really offer to “split the difference.” The league went to the midpoint of the $20 million gap, cutting the total difference from $640 million per year to $320 million. But with no offer to provide the players with any portion of the revenue that exceeds the projected growth, the offer was something closer to the league’s prior position than the players’ prior proposal.
To me, this explanation jives with what Mediator George Cohen said. Fans were confused as to why the players would walk away from a good-faith offer by the league which represented real progress. At the same time, Cohen remarked (before the league spoke):
Regrettably, the parties haven't achieved an overall agreement or been able to resolve strongly held competing views that separate them on core issues. After reviewing the situation, it is the considered judgment of yours truly that no constructive purpose would be served by requesting them to continue mediation at this time. The agency is ready, willing and able to take part in future discussions."
This isn't the language mediators typically use when there has been real progress or one side has moved significantly. Generally, if there has been real movement, mediators lean heavily on the sides to keep talking and/or express disappointment talks didn't continue. The mediator's statement seems to imply the two sides were not close to a deal and that nothing would be served by continuing talks. That jives with Florio says about the owners' offer: it didn't represent significant progress.
This one is hugely important too. If the lockout gets lifted (as it probably will), the league will play without a salary cap in 2011. As far as building a winner goes, a lot of things would be in play for the Colts that otherwise wouldn't have been. And again, it would seem to offer the chance to dump 'future' money from the contracts of Hayden and Diem. Of course, with no cap, the team may feel it's better just to keep both and pay them. Basically, it would be 2010 all over again. This would mean Indy's tenders of Addai and company would hold, as would the franchise tag. Now, way down the road the league could get beat down in court and all those contracts could be declared void, but I feel a more likely scenario is that they would be honored, but the league would be forced to pay damages. As far as Colts' fans go, we could live with that scenario. Anything that keeps Peyton in blue and white is a good outcome.