Pete Carroll’s guys take on the owners

NFLPA logoIf they thought about it enough, some NFL owners would be irked at Pete Carroll that the CBA negotiations have not yet resulted in their desired deal.

Why would they be mad at a coach who has nothing to do with it? Because some of the key players who are challenging the owners’ proposal grew up in Carroll’s culture in Seattle. He fostered individuality and independent thinking, and former Seahawks Russell Okung and Richard Sherman — along with current Hawk Bobby Wagner — are using the lessons they learned as Seahawks to fight for the best deal they can get the players.

It’s no coincidence that Okung, Sherman and Wagner all represent themselves and negotiated their current deals with the Chargers, 49ers and Seahawks. It started with Okung in 2015, and then Sherman did it after Seattle cut him in 2018, and Wagner did it last year when he made sure Seattle made him the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Do you think they would have had the confidence to make those bold moves if they hadn’t come out of a program like Carroll’s?

These guys have learned firsthand all about the CBA, so they fully understand the owners’ offer. Okung and Sherman, both members of the NFLPA executive committee, were among those to highlight the big problems with the proposal: The players still aren’t back to 50 percent of revenues, and the top-paid players would be taking pay cuts if they accepted the proposed $250,000 to play a 17th game.

When NFL players signed this CBA in 2011 (Okung’s second NFL year and Sherman’s first), they gave up some of their overall cut for other gains (better benefits and post-career medical, lighter practice schedules, shorter rookie contracts). Their share of revenue dropped from 50 percent in 2009 to 47 percent over the past 10 years. As Okung and others (including Seattle’s Quandre Diggs) have indicated, they want to get back to eating half the pie.

That 17th game is also a huge sticker. While $250,000 would be a big weekly paycheck for 90 percent of the league, it is no incentive for any player making over $4.25 million a year. That happens to include all of the aforementioned (ex-)Hawks (in 2020, Okung will make $794,117 per week, Sherman $470,588 and Wagner $647,059).

Okung and Sherman (who has long despised the NFL corporation) have been the most notable hard-liners against the owners. And Wagner apparently grilled the guys on the NFLPA call Friday who supported signing the proposal, asking them what they liked about it.

The players ended up tabling any vote and set up a Tuesday meeting at the Combine in Indianapolis that will include all 32 player reps, the 11 NFLPA executive committee members and the NFL’s Management Council Executive Committee (Cincinnati’s Mike Brown, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, Dallas’ Jerry Jones, New England’s Robert Kraft, New York Giants’ John Mara, Green Bay’s Mark Murphy, Pittsburgh’s Art Rooney and L.A. Chargers’ Dean Spanos).

Okung, Sherman, Wagner (or K.J. Wright, who is Seattle’s main player rep) and the rest of the player reps will have some hard questions for those owners, who can partly blame Pete Carroll for the hard negotiating of the guys he mentored in their early Seattle days.

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