For the second time in a week New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made a seemingly innocuous comment, and somehow people have attempted to turn it into an inflammatory remark.
Kraft is the chairman of the NFL’s broadcast committee, and probably has more knowledge of the specifics in those deals than anyone else in the league. The popular assumption is that when the new contracts kick in two years from now, the salary cap will take a dramatic spike corresponding to the money associated with those deals. On Thursday Kraft was asked if the Patriots are positioning themselves in regards to player contracts with 2014 in mind; his response:
“I don’t really see that happening. I think there’s going to be a smooth growth. I don’t think what happened in ’06 will happen in the future here because if you understand the labor agreement in the long-term part of this, there will be a smooth growth. And anyone who assumes huge jumps, I hope they’re in our division.”
Jeff Howe at NESN points out that “with Kraft’s involvement in last year’s collective bargaining negotiations, everyone around the NFL credits him for his knowledge of the situation. There’s a prevalent belief that Kraft understands the ins and outs of the new CBA as well — if not better — as anyone.” Howe also states that “the NFLPA has advised players and agents that the salary cap will see “significant growth” in 2014 “and beyond.” So, there’s a stark difference between Kraft’s quote and the NFLPA’s message.” Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe adds that “in 2006, the cap increased 19.3 percent from $85.5 million to $102 million as part of the collective bargaining agreement extension. If something similar doesn’t happen in 2014, players and agents will be upset, and teams that believed the wrong information and back-loaded contracts will be in worse cap shape than they anticipated.”
Get your popcorn ready. I don’t think we have heard the last on this subject; I would expect some type of response from recently re-elected NFL Players Association Executive Director Maurice Smith to reassure the players that they can expect increases in the cap (and their paychecks) in the relatively near future.
So what was the other comment that Kraft made? The day after the Buffalo Bills signed Mario Williams to a six-year, $96 million contract with $26 million guaranteed, Kraft appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box with Bob McNair – who happens to be the owner of the team Williams previously played for, the Houston Texans.
“But Bob (McNair) makes a good point. When Mario — and I don’t know whether he was paying him $2 million, $3 million, $4 million a year” — (McNair: “a little more.”) “$6 million, $7 million, whatever it is, 8, 9.” (McNair: “you’re getting close.”) “Okay. No, no, no, but the point is when someone goes out and pays him $15 million, if you paid him that, your team doesn’t get better when you do that. I would say your team maybe gets worse because you have less money available for other players. And only your personnel people understand the chemistry of how that works, and sometimes our fans get upset. We’re faced with a couple decisions like that, too. And both you and I want to see our teams win. It’s how we manage the resources available to us that allows us to do that.”
Rather benign, correct? My first thought was that Kraft was essentially offering McNair condolences on losing Williams, and to a lesser extent he was re-affirming his long-standing business plan on how to win and remain competitive in a league that is not set up for long-term success. The double-edged sword of a hard salary cap and free agency, combined with the shortest average player careers as well as largest roster of any professional team sport makes sustained success in the National Football League nearly impossible.
Kraft and Bill Belichick share the perspective that spreading available salary cap space throughout the middle and bottom of the roster is a better plan than getting too top-heavy – in particular with a player that although he has performed well elsewhere, has yet to prove that he can be productive on a new team.
All that was lost in Buffalo, where writers sounded the alarm an defensive fans interpreted Kraft’s remark as a dig at the Bills decision to pay Williams – who has missed 16 of the Texans last 21 games with injuries – an historic contract for his services.
Kraft questions wisdom of Mario deal says the Buffalo News, followed by comments that the Patriots have won solely because they lucked into acquiring Tom Brady, some sort of bizarre implication that they violated the salary cap by franchising Matt Cassel, and opinion that Kraft is being hypocritical because the Pats signed Albert Haynesworth a year ago – apparently assuming they paid him what the Redskins did a few years ago and not the $93,750 he was compensated for by the Pats for each of his six games last year.
The folks at Two Bills Drive believe that Kraft is “worried, jealous or just another NE hypocrite”, that his comment was “totally sour grapes”, “FA is all about overpaying for free agents … I’d rather put all my eggs in the one basket”, as well as a few obligatory cheater and sypygate references.
And BuffaloBills101 certainly doesn’t let facts stand in the way of a gossipy story, claiming – I kid you not; I couldn’t make this up – that Kraft chastised the Bills for signing Williams on Twitter.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was particularly critical of the move, and voiced his criticism on Twitter.
“Your team doesn’t get better when you do that,” Kraft Tweeted. “I would say your team maybe gets worse because you have less money available for other players.”
I don’t know, is it just me; where do people like this get off on just flat out making shit up and passing it off as being factual? He then finished with this gem:
It could be that Kraft is worried that his supreme reign over the AFC East could be threatened. After all, spying on a defense and knowing their plays matters not if the lineman is unable to block his man.
Not surprisingly the author felt compelled to imply that the reason that the Bills haven’t outperformed the Patriots since Doug Flutie was their quarterback is because the old fallback of the Patriots cheat, rather than owning up to the fact that Buffalo has made one poor personnel decision after another ever since they fired Bill Polian two decades ago. Here’s a clue: try growing a pair and admit that your team has sucked for a decade rather than acting like a four year old by blaming someone else for your team’s shortcomings.
Some belated (Saturday) happy birthdays:
Louie Anderson turned 59
On to today’s birthdays:
Elton John can retire; he turns 65 today.
The Queen of Soul turns 70 today
Former Miss Oklahoma and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant is now 72
The original voice of Monday Night Football, Howard Cosell, was born March 25, 1918
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