Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Sep 2010

Marcus McNeill Gives Up, Signs Tender

Well, A.J. Smith wins this one. Marcus McNeill signed his absurdly low one-year, $630,000 tender. After serving a three-game suspension for being on the inactive list, he can return Week 6. So he gave up $3 million to make roughly $420,000, since he's only making 11/16ths of that tender offer. And I don't think he gets to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, either -- unless they sign a new CBA, I believe he still has one more year to go.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 25 Sep 2010

35 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2010, 5:38am by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by TMI (not verified) :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 5:56pm

I'm willing to bet he doesn't play a down before his new multi-year contract is announced.

7
by bill (not verified) :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 7:47pm

This has to be the only answer - a handshake agreement that already has the money worked out, and the play is "Show up, sign the tender, and you'll have the new ink before you take a single snap (risking injury)".

If this is not the case, he needs a new agent, best friend, and dog, becuase it is stupid beyond belief.

Bill

2
by FireOmarTomlin :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 6:15pm

HAHAHAHHA. Watch him spite-turnstile a nice DE/OLB blitz that cripples Rivers .

------Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

5
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 7:36pm

That's not Marcus McNeill. He's got millions of dollars on the line, and will play with a chip on his shoulder. Every DE in the league's face will become the stupid agent who led him down the primrose path, and he's going to take out the $2.8M he threw away on each and every one of them.

20
by Scott C :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 4:13pm

They have a more than competent backup; and it would not go unnoticed and he would be off the team and giving up a LOT of money for the future.

His best bet now is to work on a long term contract and play well.

That is not as true of VJ, who has no chance of signing a long term contract with the Chargers for what price he is asking.

25
by blakelock (not verified) :: Mon, 09/27/2010 - 11:26am

"
That is not as true of VJ, who has no chance of signing a long term contract with the Chargers for what price he is asking.
"

i'm not sure this is right. if i remember correctly, VJax was supposed to make ~3.5M with chargers but turned it down to sit out. then the potential trade that would've sent him to the vikings was for ~6M. 3.5 to 6 isn't that big a jump but maybe the teams involved were motivation (deep playoff vikes vs spited chargers...??)

anyway, i don't understand why players are suspended games for sitting out while team owners suffer no penalty from nullifying a contract at will. teams can cut players (nullifying their contracts) while players don't have this option. am i missing something???

26
by Jericho (not verified) :: Mon, 09/27/2010 - 2:05pm

Owners can terminate contracts because they are non-guaranteed (although not always without penalty). Similarly, my employer can fire me at any time. It's generally how employment works. Some people whine how NFL contracts are non-guaranteed, but I'd raise a few points: (1) guaranteed NFL contracts would be terrible for the game (too many injuries and potential for 'dead' money); (2) NFL players make up for it with ridiculous bonuses; (3) actual guaranteed contracts would mostly be for 1-2 years; and (4) most sports don't require contracts be guaranteed. It's usually something negotiated on each individual deal. It's just that the NFL is a different type of sport than the other major team sports.

Players get penalized for not showing up because they breach a contract. If they don't like, they should get their union to do something about it. Or not sign a contract. Although I will say that the inactive list that McNiell is on is kind of a weird rule.

29
by blakelock :: Thu, 09/30/2010 - 11:18am

"
Similarly, my employer can fire me at any time. It's generally how employment works.
"

exactly. and you can quit at any time and look for a job elsewhere. a NFL player can't. an NFL player, evidently, has to give up a full year of earnings just to go look elsewhere.

"
guaranteed NFL contracts would be terrible for the game (too many injuries and potential for 'dead' money)
"

this could be. i don't know. it jsut seems clearly inequitable that one party in the contract can nullify at any time without penalty but the other party can't.

30
by jebmak :: Thu, 09/30/2010 - 7:43pm

What if your boss gave you a 100k bonus to sign a contract where he could fire you, but you couldn't quit?

31
by tuluse :: Thu, 09/30/2010 - 7:45pm

NFL players are allowed to quit, they just have the equivalent of non-compete clauses.

32
by jebmak :: Thu, 09/30/2010 - 8:12pm

Which makes my point stronger.

3
by IAmJoe (not verified) :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 6:36pm

I just don't get it - Even if he sits out the year, coming back into a new CBA, he's going to be worth more than that. Why bother showing up and risking your career to injury for 400K? Show up in Week 10 and play your 6 games to get credit as a year worked, and move on - the difference is what, 8 games, so about another 200K? Minimize injury risk, get your credit for a year played, make almost as much, and tell AJ Smith to suck it.

4
by tuluse :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 6:42pm

He's not coming back until week 6, so the difference is 4 or 5 games depending on the Charger's bye week.

6
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 7:38pm

Yeah, McN will play in 11 games this year... assuming he can get his job back from Brandyn Dombrowski.

13
by Megamanic :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 10:27am

I think that's got more to do with it. Dombrowski didn't suck like everyone thought he would, so McNeil's leverage was evaporating with every game he sat. Come the end of the season it could have looked like he was the product of a good system & he doesn't even get a big payday elsewhere - I mean if an UFA works as well in the same OL...

8
by Q (not verified) :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 1:08am

If I was in the NFL and the team refused to redo a contract I had outperformed, I would publicly state that I will play to the level of the contract that I had.

For example, if they want to pay me backup or 3rd string money that is how I will perform. For example if I was a CB I would blatantly fall down in an obvious manner to allow a long TD in a crucial situation or if I was a LT would just "forget" I had to block the DE instead of helping the guard with somebody.

There is nothing a team can do to penalize a player it does not think is trying hard enough except for put them on the bench. The key is to play well at stretches to show that you still have it and play wel but to intentioanlly and obviously mess up in crucial situations. Best case scenario you get benched and get the year's credit while also getting paid your low salary.

9
by Sidewards :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 1:19am

Regardless of how screwed up the payment situation is, the vast majority of players can't really do that. I'd be surprised if there are a whole bunch of people in the NFL that would be able to get past their competitive nature and throw plays. Plus, it doesn't make you an awesome prospect for another team. Why would they hire someone who has demonstrated that he doesn't care about his coaches, teammates or anyone else enough to play at his best?

10
by socctty :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 1:40am

Also, imagine explaining to 52 elite athletes that you threw away their playoff bonuses and their chances at winning a ring because you had felt you shouldn't have to honor the first contract you signed.

17
by Scott C :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 4:02pm

The point is that an UDFA is doing well for them now, so .... play to the level of the contract he had would mean playing well, or getting benched then not being picked up by any team for a good price later.

His agent was stupid. The $3M tender was out there and they chose to let it go down to the small one. Nobody at this point should think that if AJ says "I will lower your tender on June 15" he is bluffing.

24
by mawbrew :: Mon, 09/27/2010 - 11:10am

He certainly wasn't bluffing about the change in tender. But if the folks speculating that a long term deal has been reached are right, he may have been bluffing about that. If McNeill ends up signing the Chargers last offer before the tender reduction (whatever that was), or no long term deal at all, then Smith will have demonstrated a strong commitment to his bargaining rhetoric - a valuable thing indeed. If McNeill signs a long term deal that is somewhat better than the Chargers last offer before the tender reduction, then Smith had his bluff called.

11
by Q (not verified) :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 7:06am

It would be an easy explanation to teammates. One's pay reflects how much their team values them and their performance, so nothing wrong with performing to a level that matches what the team is willing to pay for.

Eventually it is the coaching staff's fault if they expect performance beyond that which my pay warrants. They are free to play me or bench me based upon their knowledge of my intent. Being benched is better than not showing up since you still get paid and earn another year towards being unrestricted.

Also, I do not think that other teams would blackball you. If you otherwise perform well when happy, they will see you are only not trying your hardest because you are getting screwed by your contract.

For example if I had been Chris Johnson instead of breaking it 85 yards for the TD, after 20 yards when you have broken clear simply run out of bounds. Every team will see that you could have gone the 85 if you had wanted to while also furthering the point.

12
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 9:57am

It might be easy to explain to your team-mates, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't resent you for it, whether that's reasonable or not. It's also incredibly naive to think that sort of behaviour wouldn't make other teams start to question your character in a way that would reduce your value. Personally, given the way I feel when I play sports, I could never, ever do it: I'd hate myself every second I wasn't going flat out to win. Your mileage may vary.

16
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 3:58pm

While the "play-to-my-level" argument makes a sense on one level, it's a very high risk strategy. I wouldn't be surprised that if you made it obvious enough that you were wiffing, that Goodell wouldn't give you a life suspension for bringing the game into disrepute.

You don't sign a contract to play at a certain level; you sign a contract for a number of years. If you think the contract is going to be unfair, don't sign it. McNeill and Jackson got shafted by the CBA running out but that's tough shit; the union agreed to it on their behalf. I just can't believe these guys threw away $2.8 million.

Other teams would only consider you worth acquiring if you were one of the top players at your position in the league. Anything worse and it just wouldn't be taking the risk that if you had a falling out with the coaches, or someone else in the league suddenly got a great contract that you wouldn't then pull your half-assed shit.

18
by Scott C :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 4:05pm

Again, what level of play is a given pay?

An UDFA is playing LT very well for the chargers now, and plenty of high paid LT's are not worth their pay.

Can a team say "you aren't playing up to your pay level, so we are going to stop paying yo so much but you still have to stay on the team"? Um, no.

So the concept you describe above is just ridiculous.

22
by zlionsfan :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 11:21pm

If you're that obvious about it, I think the point you would be making is that whenever you feel like you're not making enough money, you'll quit on your team.

I really don't think teammates and other teams would respect a half-ass effort during a game. I think I understand the point you're trying to make, I just don't think it would have the effect you think it would.

Even if it did, you're effectively lowering your value to your team by playing that way: they can never be sure you'll give 100%, and you risk being replaced by a player with similar skill who's less willing to affect the outcome of games to prove a point.

28
by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 09/28/2010 - 2:40pm

Yeah that's not how things work in even the fake world of the NFL where athletes actually have bargaining power. There are plenty of guys they can get to come in and play hard who they would at least know are trying on every play. And other teams would notice and wouldn't want you anywhere near their team. Why would you want to pay a guy who plays based on his own whim as to what he's worth (when a lot of these players have screwed up ideas about their worth).

14
by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 12:17pm

I think V-Jax's agent had it right-- I sincerely doubt that any FA with any degree of options will want to come to San Diego after this offseason, and I could see more top potential draft picks "pulling an Eli Manning" and refusing to sign with San Diego.

AJ Smith won this battle, but I think he's losing the war.

Amazingly, the Patriots pull this type of stuff all the time, but never end up with hard feelings like this. Nor could I ever see them passing up the apparent trade offer that Smith had for V-Jax. Maybe that's the benefit of being seen as a pure ROI/business investment type franchise rather than a franchise run by a megalomaniac-- even though the outcomes may be the same, the perceptions of those outcomes are vastly different.

15
by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 1:10pm

I wouldn't say never. If some accounts are to be believed, Asante Samuel was and still is extremely unhappy about his treatment by the Patriots (and Belichick in particular). Still, Smith does seem to be upsetting more people, more often than most.

19
by Scott C :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 4:10pm

By playing to the rules of the agreed upon CBA? The Union KNEW that players would be put in this position when they and the NFL decided to play this uncapped year. AJ Smith states that he is playing by the rules well in advance, and gets what he wanted -- A contract with Gates before dealing with McNeil and others. He already decided that Jackson was not a long term member of the team due to the repeated drunk driving and likelihood of another suspension, and does not want to have too many big contracts out there until the CBA situation is resolved.

21
by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 5:08pm

I'm absolutely not criticising him for it. He runs a generally stable, winning franchise. You can do that very well and still upset people - that's been proven several times across the history of the NFL. NFL GMs are not appointed to build a roster where everybody's always smiling, they're appointed to build a roster that wins games. If everybody's happy while they're doing it, so much the better. If they're not, tough.

23
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 09/27/2010 - 11:09am

Do fans really care about AJ Smith's labor problems. All fans know is A) the team is losing B) the teams GM low balled good players and now doesn't have them to start to season. In the end a GM has to balance what the fan base will tolerate too. The Pats have multiple rings and thus a fan base more willing to give the Pats front office a break for knowing what it's doing. The Charger fan base basically sounds like they had enough of the "cheapness" of this franchise. For Smith's sake the team better start winning or the stadium is going to have more empty seats. And empty seats gets you fired.

33
by horn :: Fri, 10/01/2010 - 3:26pm

Belicheat cost himself a SB by not resigning Deion Branch. Branch was clearly unhappy with his treatment.

As Ted Johnson about his treatment by Belicheat, now that he has permanent damage from being forced to play after a concussion against the recommendation of the medical staff.

34
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/01/2010 - 4:18pm

Are you seriously suggesting that Deion Branch was the difference between the Pats and a SB win?

Have you looked at Branch's career stats? He's only ever played one full season and caught 78 balls for 998 yds.

In 2006 Branch asked for a contract similar to Reggie Wayne who had just signed a 4-year, $40million contract.

Going into that contract negotiation:
- Wayne had caught 304 passes in 5 seasons - avg 60
- Branch 213 in 4 season - avg 53

In the four years since:
- Branch has caught 179 passes in 47 games at Seattle - avg 45 per year.
- Wayne has played every game and caught 86, 104, 82, 100 passes - a total of 372 ... just over double that of Branch.

History shows that New England made the right call on that one.

35
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 10/03/2010 - 5:38am

I'm not sure the notion's as outlandish as all that. The 2006 Patriots had a total regular season DVOA of 27.1%, only 2% lower than #1 San Diego. They lost in the conference championship game by 4 points to the eventual Superbowl winners, and with one more regular season win they would have been hosting that game. Their leading receiver was Reche Caldwell, with 61 catches for 760 yards; no other WR had more than 400 yards. Obviously you can never know what would have happened, but I think it's at least plausible that the addition of Branch, mediocre as he was/is, could have been enough to give the Patriots the highest regular season DVOA, an extra regular season win (maybe in the 14-17 home loss to the Jets) resulting in a home conference championship game and thus perhaps a Superbowl appearance in which they would have been favoured. Belichick undoubtedly made the rational decision based on what was known at the time, but it is conceivable that as things turned out he cost the Pats a championship by doing so.

27
by Brandon (not verified) :: Tue, 09/28/2010 - 9:47am

Is McNeil really THAT good that it was worth sitting?
I men why not play for 3.3MM or whatever it was for the last year?
Even if its a little below fair market value.
Or is he a great player?