Sean Gilbert and DeMaurice Smith need to go at it, town-hall style battle-royale style in a debate. After all, these are the two men who could go head-to-head for the NFLPA executive director spot soon, even if the sitting executive director Smith has no plans of leaving his post.
Gilbert, the former NFL defensive tackle, is coming out guns blazing in his desire to take Smith's post and run the NFL's players union. And Gilbert has a radical and fascinating campaign platform for how he thinks the union should approach the next round of negotiations with the league.
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Among Gilbert's proposals:
• Terminating the current CBA. That's No. 1 on his list. Nothing like starting big.
• A $1 million minimum salary. Hello. This is a radical change. The current system works against veteran players and their elevated minimum salaries, Gilbert says.
• Rookie contracts/free agency after three years. Right now, it's three or four, and first-round picks have a team-option fifth year either at the franchise- or transition-tag level, depending on where they are picked. Speaking of which ...
• Players can be franchised only once in their careers under Gilbert's system, and that the transition tag should go away. Interesting timing, with the transition tag seeing something of a mini-revival the past few seasons.
• Eliminate two preseason games and bump the regular season to 18. This is something the NFL has talked openly about. All part of Gilbert's grow-the-game mandate.
• Expanding rosters. Gilbert wants 57 roster spots (up from 53), in order to create 224 jobs league-wide.
• A pay increase for practice squad players.
• Renegotiations on rookie contracts after one year, not three as it stands now.
Phew. That's a lot to chew on. Gilbert is campaigning on the premise that he has proof the owners have colluded.
Can Gilbert prove this? Can he stand up to Smith and take him down? Gilbert is confident about his chances.
Like in politics, there always is the chance that Gilbert is promising more than he can deliver, but he certainly talks a big game that is hard to ignore. We'll be curious to see how players respond to this, of course, but we'll leave Mr. Gilbert with this parting thought ...
Does he really think he can sit across the table from NFL owners and get all/most/some of this passed? That's going to be a tall order vs. their army of lawyerly types.
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