Among the final issues needing resolution before reaching a collective bargaining agreement between NFL players and owners will be striking a compromise with the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady v. the NFL lawsuit.
Yahoo! Sports has learned through multiple sources that the agents for wide receiver Vincent Jackson(notes) and guard Logan Mankins(notes) have requested that their players either become unrestricted free agents when the lockout is over or that they receive $10 million each as part of the settlement. Both Jackson and Mankins chose to sit out much of the 2010 season when they failed to reach long-term deals with the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, respectively.
Likewise, quarterbacks Peyton Manning(notes) and Drew Brees(notes) could push for compensation, although another source said each is far less likely to create problems, particularly after their joint statement with Tom Brady last week in which they pushed for a settlement.
"[Manning and Brees] don't really have that much to gain because they're both quarterbacks," a source said. "They pretty much have all the leverage they could want. But I think some other guys are going to expect to be compensated."
Jackson, Mankins and Manning were designated "franchise" players in February, and Brees could be hit with the tag after this season, the final year of his current contract.
As for the other six plaintiffs, none are in the same position to demand drastic compensation for damages, a league source said. Linebacker Ben Leber(notes) and defensive end Brian Robison(notes) could get some compensation because they are free agents who have been unable to sign with teams, but that figures to be minimal. New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora(notes) and Brady are under contract already. Denver Broncos rookie linebacker Von Miller(notes) has yet to sign a deal and linebacker Mike Vrabel(notes) has retired.
That leaves Jackson and Mankins as the most impacted plaintiffs. Agent Neil Schwartz, who represents Jackson, declined to comment and agent Frank Bauer, who represents Mankins, did not return a message seeking comment. Both agents have been involved in bitter disputes with the teams over the past two years. 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.
There is precedent for Jackson and Mankins to request the lifting of the franchise tag. As part of the settlement of the Reggie White case in 1993, none of the plaintiffs in that case could be named franchise players.
"They're asking for something they believe – and I think most people would believe – is fair compensation for what they've had to go through," an NFL Players Association source said. "My guess would be that the owners or the league will pay them."
An NFL source said that the league would consider all its options in dealing with the settlement. However, the league might be more inclined to pay Jackson and Mankins because removing the franchise tag would set a precedent for Manning to ask for the same thing now and Brees to do so next year if he doesn't get a new contract from the New Orleans Saints.
While sources indicated that all of the players are hoping to remain with their current teams, removing the franchise tag would potentially give each of them significant leverage. Manning, who is guaranteed $23.7 million this year under the tag, is expected to sign a long-term deal with he Colts worth between $25-$30 million a year. Though he is unlikely to leave the Colts, even if given the freedom, free agency would be a boon to Manning's leverage.
"Peyton isn't going anywhere, but could you imagine what might happen if he did?" said one of the aforementioned sources.