SBD/June 4, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Freeney Suggests Collusion Among NFL Owners, Pointing To Small Free Agent Deals

Freeney says he did not speak to the players' union about his concerns
Chargers LB Dwight Freeney said NFL owners this offseason "got together and decided not to spend the cash on free agents," according to Mike Freeman of CBSSPORTS.com. Freeney, who signed a two-year, $8.75M deal with the Chargers this offseason, added, "I think the owners made a pact. There's only 32 of them and none of them broke ranks. I think they all decided not to spend money." Freeman wrote, "In almost every other free-agent season, a player like Freeney, no matter his age, would have at least a half-dozen teams wanting to sign him.” Freeney said, "It takes one team to start things going, but what was strange was initially there was no one team." Agents and players this offseason “were saying privately that owners were hoarding money -- colluding, in other words -- and that is why so few free agents were receiving top deals.” But Freeney "stated on the record what many players and agents -- and I mean a lot of them -- have been stating privately.” Freeney: "What you saw, were guys getting small deals. I haven't seen anything like it. There was a lot of take-it-or-leave-it from teams” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/30). Freeney said, “With the new CBA and how it was structured, for veteran free agents this was supposed to be good for us.” Freeney said he did not speak to the NFLPA about his concerns because the “owners can do what they want to do.” ESPN’s Ed Werder noted there has "been no official reaction to these allegations from the NFL.” ESPN analyst and former NFLer Jason Taylor said, “The owners won a couple years ago in the new CBA. Call it what it is, the owners won and the players did not. For them to get together and say, ‘We’re not going to pay people,’ I think is just ludicrous” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 5/31). 

NO SUPPORTING EVIDENCE: ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox wrote Freeney is “flat-out wrong.” Colts Owner Jim Irsay, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, Falcons Owner Arthur Blank and the other 29 NFL owners “weren't colluding against Freeney,” nor were they colluding against “any of the other 30-somethings who, like Freeney, hit the free-agent market in March and sat, and sat, and sat waiting for an opportunity to play elsewhere.” Collusion is a “convenient cry, but it is too late for that, for Freeney or for any other veteran who in 2011 agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with the National Football League that now is proving to have been a bigger win for the owners than the players.” It is “not that the owners aren't capable of collusion;” rather it is that the owners “didn't collude in this instance, and even Freeney admitted he has no evidence that they did” (ESPN.com, 6/3).
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