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Report: Logan Mankins could end up holding up new labor deal

07.19.11 at 9:34 am ET
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While just about everything seems to point to a looming resolution between players and owners in the NFL labor struggle, Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins could be one of two players who could throw a wrench into things.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Mankins and San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson want to become unrestricted free agents or be given $10 million each for settling as lead plaintiffs in the case of Brady vs. the NFL, and the business of football cannot resume unless the antitrust lawsuit is settled with all the plaintiffs.

Both Mankins and Jackson sat out several games last season after publicly voicing displeasure over their contract situation ‘€” Mankins went AWOL for the offseason programs and the first seven games of the 2010 season ‘€” and now, both have been hit with the franchise tag. (Jackson and Mankins were among a group of players who have had to wait six years to reach unrestricted free agency because of previous rules.)

However, it sounds like the league will make sure the two are compensated at the expense of holding up a deal.

‘€œThey’€™re asking for something they believe ‘€“ and I think most people would believe ‘€“ is fair compensation for what they’€™ve had to go through,’€ Yahoo! quotes an NFL Players Association source as saying. ‘€œMy guess would be that the owners or the league will pay them.’€

Read More: Logan Mankins, Vincent Jackson,

Players have a billion reasons to approve a new 10-year CBA on Wednesday

07.18.11 at 6:10 pm ET
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NFL players are ready to vote on a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday if unresolved issues are settled between the players and NFL owners, according to a report by Adam Schefter on his twitter page.

Approximately two hours after U.S. Magistrate Arthur Boylan arrived at a Manhattan law firm, Schefter reported that the players would be ready to vote a day before the owners gather for a special meeting in Atlanta to discuss the new CBA. It’s presumed that if the players ratify on Wednesday, owners would be ready to do likewise.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones – on hand for Monday’s session in Manhattan – was quoted Monday, characterizing the labor deal as being down to “circumsizing mosquitoes”.

Schefter also reported that the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams Monday, directing key executives with each team to attend Thursday’s meetings in Atlanta.

Another key resolution – according to Schefter – was the agreement to pay $1 billion in benefits into the players’ retirement fund over the life of the agreement and the addition of $620 million to the new “Players Legacy” fund.

Read More: Arthur Boylan, labor, nfl, NFL owners

Logan Mankins named top guard in NFL the last three seasons

07.18.11 at 3:34 pm ET
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We have long been fans of the analytical web site Pro Football Focus, and the fellas at PFF have put together an impressive study chronicling the three-year performances by some of the top players in the game. They’ve been breaking down players by position, and this past Saturday, they examined the guard spot, where they ranked Patriots’ lineman Logan Mankins as the best in the league from 2008 through 2010. When it comes to Mankins, PFF writes:

“Even missing half of the 2010 season couldn’€™t keep Mankins from finishing our top guard over three years. He may give up some penalties and allow some pressure, but Mankins is the most dominant guard in the run game. Able to drive defenders back and get to the next level, you’€™ll understand why the Patriots took the unusual step of franchising a guard to secure his services for another year.”

Mankins comes out ahead of Carl Nicks (second) and Jahri Evans (third), both of New Orleans. Cincinnati’s Bobbie Williams and Chris Snee of the New York Giants round out the Top 5.

Read More: Bobbie Williams, Carl Nicks, Chris Snee, Jahri Evans

Trio in place to end NFL lockout

07.18.11 at 2:20 pm ET
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All that needs to happen now is for the lawyers and judge to hammer out the agreement to end the four-month NFL lockout.

Lawyers for the NFL Players Association and the league met Monday at a Manhattan law firm while U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan – the court-appointed mediator – was expected to arrive in New York later Monday to oversee talks aimed at ending the NFL’s first work stoppage since one game was lost and replacement players were used for three weeks in 1987.

NFL owners have a special meeting set for Thursday in Atlanta, where they could ratify a new deal if one is in place.

Players and owners have come up with the framework of an agreement that resolves most of the issues that have been blocking a deal.

A new deal would reportedly include:

‘€¢ A cap of approximately $120 million for player salaries in 2011, with about another $20 million in benefits.
‘€¢ An agreement on the distribution of $9 billion in annual league revenue, estimated anywhere between 45-49 percent for players.
‘€¢ A rookie salary system.
‘€¢ A new set of free-agency rules

Any settlement must also be ratified by groups of players, including the named plaintiffs in a federal antitrust suit against the league, and the NFLPA’s 32 team representatives. There is also the matter of resolving pending lawsuits associated with the lockout and the players’ claim to $320 million in lost benefits from 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Arthus Boylan, nfl, NFL labor, NFL lockout

Poll: Tom Brady is the sixth most-popular sports star in America

07.18.11 at 12:06 pm ET
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In a new poll from Harris Interactive, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named the sixth most popular sports star in America, up two spots from last year. The New England quarterback is the second football player on the list, trailing Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who checks in second overall. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is first. (Two other football players are in the Top 10: Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward is tied for seventh overall, and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 10th.)

Read More: aaron rodgers, Derek Jeter, Hines Ward, Peyton Manning

Urban Meyer: Jermaine Cunningham could provide key to Patriots’ pass rush woes

07.17.11 at 11:03 pm ET
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For all the concern about the Patriots not landing a pass rusher in the 2011 draft, former University of Florida coach Urban Meyer says that hope could arrive this season in the form of second-year linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.

Cunningham, who was taken by New England in the second round of the 2010 draft out of Florida, just finished his rookie year with the Patriots when he played in 15 games, starting 11. The 6-foot-3, 266-pounder finished the season with 34 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. (According to the analytical web site Pro Football Focus, Cunningham was on the field for 577 of New England’€™s 1,108 defensive plays in 2010.)

Meyer always believed Cunningham was the type of player who could develop into a legitimate pass rusher.

‘€œObviously, I did,’€ Meyer told, ‘€œbut Bill Belichick really did.’€

According to Meyer, landing Cunningham represented the culmination of a scouting odyssey for the Patriots’€™ coach, who had his eye on Cunningham for several seasons. Meyer says Belichick’€™s interest in the linebacker was piqued when Cunningham was a sophomore ‘€” the New England coach made several trips to Florida to spend time with Meyer, and with a collection of great defenders on the Florida roster, the player that always seemed to interest Belichick the most was Cunningham.

‘€œThat started his sophomore year,’€ Meyer said of Belichick’€™s interest in Cunningham. ‘€œCoach Belichick would always come down and watch film and I’€™d sometimes sit in there and he would keep asking about [Jermaine]: ‘€˜Who’€™s this guy? Who’€™s this guy? Who’€™s this guy?’€™ And you had Derrick Harvey, you had Jarvis Moss, Carlos Dunlap, and then Jermaine was kind of the next guy, but he would always say ‘€˜Who is that guy? I love that guy.’€™

‘€œBill Belichick’€™s the one who saw a lot in him.’€

New England has struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks the last two seasons, but Meyer believes the emergence of Cunningham could go a long way toward solving those problems for the Patriots.

‘€œHe’€™s got an incredible work ethic ‘€” he’€™s probably as hard a working guy as we’€™ve had,’€ Meyer said of Cunningham. ‘€œHe was excellent with his hands. When we recruited him, he was 195 pounds, and now he’€™s 260. He’€™s always been real fast over the course of his career. He’€™s got a lot of speed.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jermaine Cunningham, Urban Meyer,

Work zone: NFL owners, players report ‘constructive’ progress as deal nears

07.15.11 at 7:09 pm ET
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With all signs pointing to an agreement over the weekend, NFL owners and players issued a joint statement late Friday afternoon acknowledging that significant progress has been made in reaching a new collective bargaining agreement and ending the four-month NFL lockout.

The owners and players met Friday for nearly eight hours, then issued a joint statement about their progress.

“The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues,” the statement read. “Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspect of the negotiations. We will provide additional information [as]developments in this process continue.”

The statement comes as both sides reached a breakthrough in negotiations between NFL owners and players, with the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement essentially finalized.

The sides arrived Friday for negotiations at 9 a.m. and continued talks from Thursday. Friday was considered a significant deadline because of an internal deadline to save the preseason in its normal form. “We made some progress,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told reporters Friday. “We continue to have a lot of work to do. Our lawyers and other folks are going to continue to work through the weekend. Roger [Goodell] and I will either talk or meet starting tomorrow morning. I know everyone is frustrated and they want a definitive answer. I hate to disappoint you, but you’€™re not going to get one right now. But we’€™re going to continue to work and that’€™s a positive sign.”

Read More: Arthur Boylan, DeMaurice Smith, nfl, NFL labor
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