Agreement allows holdouts to report later

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have reached an agreement that keeps unsigned restricted free agent players Vincent Jackson(notes) and Logan Mankins(notes) from being forced to report to their teams by next Tuesday. Rather, both will be able to report later in the season in order to get six accrued games this season in order to ensure that they will be unrestricted free agents in the 2011 offseason. Both are expected to report.

What was at issue was Article 17.13 of the NFL Constitution, which could have forced Jackson of the San Diego Chargers and Mankins of the New England Patriots to report before the NFL trade deadline if it trumped the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. Lawyers for both the league and the union spent Tuesday and Wednesday discussing the situation. NFL senior vice president Dennis Curran confirmed Wednesday that an agreement had been reached.

Article 17.13 of the NFL Constitution reads: "All players in the categories of Reserve/Retired, Reserve/Did Not Report, and Reserve/Veteran Free Agent Asked to Re-Sign will continue to be prohibited from being resinstated in the last 30 days of the regular season. Additionally, no player in such category will be reinstated between the trading deadline of the applicable season and the normal 30-day deadline unless the club initiates the reinstatement request and the Commissioner approves it."

Essentially, what that means is that Jackson and Mankins – who were on the Reserve/Veteran Free Agent Asked to Re-Sign list – could have been barred from playing at all this season if their clubs had not cooperated and potentially could have been restricted free agents again in 2011 if new rules regarding free agency and the CBA are not agreed upon before next season. That situation was especially troubling for Jackson, who has been in an open disagreement with the Chargers, who have twice refused to trade him after getting offers from Minnesota and other clubs.

Said a source with knowledge of the circumstances: "Based on their previous behavior, you would have to assume that the Chargers will do anything and everything to hurt a player in this situation."

Instead, the league and the union agreed that both players will simply have to report in time to be on the roster for six games. The timetable is different for the two players.

Jackson will have to report to the Chargers during the week leading up to the Oct. 31 game against Tennessee because San Diego put him on the roster exemption status. Because Jackson will be roster exempt, he can't play for three games. Jackson would not play against the Titans, at Houston at Nov. 7 and would miss the game against Denver on Nov. 22. The Chargers have a bye between the game against Houston and Denver. Jackson would then return to the Chargers roster for the final six games, beginning Nov. 28 at Indianapolis.

In Mankins' case, because New England has not put him on roster exemption, he would have to show up the week of the Thanksgiving Day game when the Patriots visit Detroit.