The NFL Players Association is quite irritated with agent Angelo Wright for agreeing to an incentive in defensive tackle Pat Williams' contract that allows the Minnesota Vikings to use $13.2 million in salary cap space this season.
However, the union may not be able to do much about it.
"What you don't want is all that money taken out of the pool for other players who might get contract extensions during the season," a union source said Friday. "Now, if it was December and the Vikings had already done a bunch of other deals, that's fine. That allows them to carry over the money to next year."
Carrying over money to next season, which can be done regardless of when the extension was signed, is a method teams use to conserve unused salary cap space. In other words, if Williams fails to meet the criteria of what's been deemed a bogus "likely to be earned" incentive in his contract, Minnesota will get an additional $13.2 million in cap space above the scheduled $116 million cap for the 2008 season.
What the union has been upset about in the past is the use of so-called bogus incentives to eat up cap room when teams weren't actually spending. An example of such an incentive is a clause regarding special teams tackles for a player who generally doesn't play on special teams.
Two years ago, the union raised the issue after Minnesota did something similar with another player's contract. The union told agents that they would be subject to discipline if they participated in such bogus activity.
The problem now is that there's a loophole in the rule. Because Williams, Wright and the Vikings waited until the season started, the union doesn't have a foundation to discipline Wright. Furthermore, the Vikings are already over the minimum cap for this season, which is 85.2 percent (roughly $93 million) of the $109 million salary cap.
One of the key provisions when the collective bargaining agreement was restructured in 2006 was the minimum percentage of the salary cap which all teams must spend. The figure will rise over the course of the deal until it caps out at 90 percent in 2011.
What the NFLPA doesn't want players and agents to do is allow teams to create such incentives so that teams can reach the minimum expenditure. The union also doesn't want such incentives to be done during the bulk of the offseason from the beginning of March through the preseason.
However, once a team is over the minimum expenditure and has reached the regular season, the situation is different. Now, the union will have to adjust its internal rules.
"We're going to have to tighten the language," the source said. "In this case, there's probably not much we can do."