BIRDLAND – As July 16 approaches and the Saints seem to be bungling a new deal for quarterback Drew Brees, I’ve been getting a lot of questions – via the comment page and twitter.com – about Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes.
Best I can tell, all is quiet on the Grimes’ front. We reached out to his people this week and haven’t heard back from them on or off the record yet. Usually, they are very good about keeping us in the loop, but this is the slow period for everyone.
Smitty is off getting ready to play some golf at Lake Tahoe. Dimitroff is likely cruising around a bike trail somewhere. Roddy White hasn’t even gotten into a Tweet-fight recently as he’s been mourning the move of Ray Allen from his beloved Celtics to the Miami Heat. Reggie Roberts, the Falcons VP PR man, is somewhere hiding out. (He’s dodging me. I think he’s scared to play our annual skins golf match. He clearly doesn’t want ANY this year! Hate to call him out in public, but sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures.)
Here’s what we know about the Grimes situation:
Brees and Grimes are not in the same situation.
BREES is an “exclusive” franchise player – not free to sign with another club – is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on April 20; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a non-exclusive franchise player.
GRIMES signed a non-exclusive franchise tender which will pay him $10.281 million this season. From the new collective bargaining agreement: “The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays [formerly, “games”] during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years . . . ; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year . . . (the “Cap Percentage Average”) . . . ; or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.”
All of that legalese means, as best I can tell, is the that the exclusive tag ends up with a higher salary than the non-exclusive tag. Also, there is no transition player tag under the new CBA.
Also, the Falcons are too tight up against the cap right now to do a major deal. Because of that, it’s reasonable to conclude that they want Grimes to play under the tag and they’ll revisit extension talks during the upcoming season.
In the past, Dimitroff has taken care of some players they wanted to keep in-season: (Jonathan Babineaux, Michael Jenkins and Tony Gonzalez last year.)
The Falcons only have $2,834,837, fourth lowest in the league, under the cap, according to the NFL. They appear contractually land-locked for the season. That’s just enough room to add on two players at the veteran minimum late in training camp.
We haven’t heard from Grimes since he signed his tender shortly after the Falcons made the move to get Asante Samuel. He told us that he’d get his side of the story out.
San Francisco safety Dashon Golden came out on SiriusNFLradio and said he’s ready to play 2012 under his tender.
“All these one-year/one-year (contracts) is not what any player would want. We know what we put our bodies through and what we do for our teams. But it’s all good. There’s no love lost or anything like that. I just hope something will get done. If not, I’ll still be a 49er.”
But sometimes these franchise tag deals can get messy.
The normally mild-mannered and businesslike Dunta Robinson had a major franchise tag blowup when he was in Houston. He held out before signing the tender and then wrote “Pay Me, Rick” on his shoes. He was referring to Houston general manager Rick Smith, who tagged Robinson.
Also, there was Logan Mankins’ dealings with New England in 2010 under the former CBA.
We don’t know what caused the Grimes’ camp to flip flop. In early March, they had no plans to sign the tag. Then in late April, Grimes signed the tender.
The Grimes camp appears set to play under the tag, while hoping to iron out a long-term deal.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog