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DeMaurice Smith accused the owners of “criminally playing the game” by refusing to commit to guaranteed contracts.

It's been clear since the ink was dry Deshaun Watson's five-year, fully guaranteed contract is the one Lamar Jackson wants. But for a stray report from several weeks ago that Lamar never asked for such a deal, everything said and done privately and publicly pointed to Lamar wanting the same structure from the Ravens that Deshaun did. Received from Brown.

The latest piece of undeniable visual evidence to support this conclusion comes from a powerful and passionate article posted this week by DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association. In it, Smith takes aim at owners for using fully guaranteed contracts as the latest tool to exert control over the players' workforce.

Smith writes, “The NFL draft and franchise tag system exist because owners have cooperated in the past to undercut and restrict the .” “This time, they are playing the game criminally.”

Smith's reasoning stems from the fact that Lamar Jackson is currently available for discussion, negotiation and eventual execution of a fully guaranteed offer letter. However, no team has shown interest in talking to him.

Smith writes, “We are all looking at the same answers to the obvious questions.” “Why did you do it [Kirk] cousin and [Deshaun] Watson gets a fully guaranteed contract while others don't? Or to be more specific, why have the Baltimore Ravens and other teams publicly (at least initially) stated that they are not going to compensate Lamar Jackson with a fully guaranteed contract like Cousins ​​or Watson. ? Let's be clear, in my nearly 15-year career as an executive director, I have never seen teams so quick to publicly announce their lack of interest in an MVP quarterback who is at his peak and who Injury guarantee is also going to be available. , regardless of his contract.

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It remains surprising, to say the least, that so many teams reportedly not interested in Lamar Jackson surfaced in the hours after the Ravens officially applied the non-exclusive franchise tag. Even if it was the product of reporters being persistent and aggressive, the parade of “NOPE” created a distinct impression of coordination—especially when the teams' simplest and smartest answer would have been, “We're keeping all options open.” Have been.”

and as stated before pft live and other radio programs and possibly written here (it's been a long week; I don't remember for sure), the seeds of collusion were planted a year earlier, with the league-wide reaction to the Watson contract. This time, the teams know not to flinch too close to a totally guaranteed flame. If they never engage Lamar in discussing what he wants, they'll never have to say no to a fully guaranteed contract.

Smith believes the league is taking an even tougher approach to deter other quarterbacks, such as Lamar Jackson, who will soon be getting new deals (For example, which is bad Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts) from even getting a fully guaranteed contract.

“The NFL wants to send a message to all of the above-named stars that they will not get fully guaranteed contracts, simply because other first-ballot Hall of Famers didn't get them and — if they can help it — because Jackson didn't get one. Found,” writes Smith. “The message to the non-quarterback free agent market is equally harsh: You don't get a chance to get this type of contract.”

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The broader point, Smith believes, is about power.

“The message from the league is clear,” writes Smith. “We will control you. Unions and players have fought this battle for years, and it will undoubtedly continue.”

This will continue as long as the players keep at it. As long as they continue to appear for voluntary exercise. As long as they continue to give free publicity and promotion to the NFL and its teams on their personal platforms.

Unless the players collectively take a stand and push back against those controlling the game, eventually in the form of a strike long enough to endure a lockout or miss regular-season games.

DeMaurice Smith accused the owners of “criminally playing the game” by refusing to commit to guaranteed contracts. originally appeared pro football talk

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