League Still Locked … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Negotiators for the NFL and its players have broken off their no longer so secret-secret negotiations on a new labor agreement.

After spending three days enjoying the charms of suburban Chicago, and then two days on Long Island last week, negotiators for the NFL owners and players wrapped up a sojourn to Maryland’s Eastern Shore on Wednesday.

Now, we don’t know just where these talks went down, but we do know that there’s no better time of the year to be in the Delmarva than June. Possibly they were in St. Michaels, where they ordered in from the Crab Claw restaurant and checked out the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. They might have gone down Highway 50 a few more miles to a chez classy Hyatt resort in Cambridge. I can see NFL Commish Roger Goodell and players head DeMaurice Smith hitting the oysters and clams at Jimmie & Sooks Raw Bar and Grill for some team building time.

Maybe they went even further into the peninsula to Salisbury where they could score great sea food at the Market Street Inn. Maybe they went all the way to Assateague Island to see the wild horses and then over to Ocean City for some great seafood at the Phillips Crab House and then some salt water taffy from Dolle’s on the boardwalk.

More than likely they did not leave whatever hotel they shacked up in. There was work to be done and the clock is ticking.


“Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks.”

That was the statement released under the auspices of both parties after they left the Eastern Shore. Present for the meetings on the league side were Goodell and owners Clark Hunt, Jerry Richardson (Carolina), Robert Kraft (New England), John Mara (N.Y. Giants) and Dean Spanos (San Diego).

Representing the players were Smith, union president Kevin Mawae, Chiefs guard Brian Waters, former Chiefs FB Tony Richardson, along with Domonique Foxworth and Jeff Saturday.

For at least one part of this week both sides had their lawyers involved as well, two on each side. That the conversation did not explode in rancor is a good indication that the lawyers were likely muzzled as the negotiators controlled the negotiating football. Reportedly progress has been made in recent weeks and that coincides with the legal eagles being left on the sidelines.

Clark Hunt has been part of almost every negotiating session between the parties, whether they were secret or not. It will be interesting once this is all over to find out what his contributions were to the process. He’s easily the youngest man in the room on the league side.

It will also be interesting to get his personal view of one element that the owners apparently have offered the players – that’s a hard floor on the minimum amount of money that must be spent each year under the salary cap by each team.

In their proposal to the players on March 11 before the lockout began, the league offered a 90 percent minimum in money that would have to be paid out in cash each year. Essentially, if the cap was at $140 million per team, then each team would have to pay out at least $126 million in cash.

Now, consider that over the last three seasons – 2008-09-10 – the Chiefs had the lowest ranked payroll in the league. Some of that isn’t surprising given the young nature of the team over the last few years and its lack of superstars on the roster. Still, Hunt never allowed the Kansas City payroll to get close to the salary cap maximum. Here are those numbers, along with others for some historical perspective:


Salary  Cap

NFL Rank

KC Payroll

Under/Over The Cap









































Let’s say there had been a salary cap in 2010 and let’s say it was $130 million. That would have had the Chiefs more than $46 million under the cap number based on their actual payroll. Over the last three seasons that would have had the Chiefs at almost $120 million under the cap.

Now, if the owners had been required to spend 90 percent of the cap each season under those numbers, the Chiefs football personnel balance sheet would look quite different. In those three years, they would have had to pay an average of more than $27.5 million per season on top of what they already had on the books.

That’s all conjecture, but its evidence enough of how a change to the 90 percent floor on the cap will mean big changes to the Chiefs. If that cap hits $140 million for 2011 that means $126 million would be the 90 percent floor. Based on the Chiefs ’10 payroll that would require the Hunt Family to spend an extra $42 million in 2011 on top of the more than $80 million that they paid in ’10.

If the vault isn’t opened for GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley to go out and sign unrestricted free agents and other veterans, then there are a lot of veterans already on the roster who are going to enjoy a re-done contract for a lot more money.

Either way for teams like the Chiefs at the bottom of the salary scale, the cash will flow in 2011. Teams and owners like Hunt who have held back on the compensation will have to spend.

What’s next on the labor front? The NFL owners have a scheduled meeting in Tuesday in Chicago. The league has told the teams to be prepared to go into Tuesday night and possibly Wednesday morning as they will discuss what’s happened at the not so secret-secret negotiations.

9 Responses to “League Still Locked … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 16, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    All I can say is when you look at the last 4 out of 5 years of payroll it becomes obvious that Clark is a tight ass. Now you can criticize me but the facts speak for themselves. Some of that shortfall could have probably landed us a couple of great “free agents”.

  • June 16, 2011  - JasonC says:

    Chuck, we’ll see how tight Clark is after this season. It made no sense to spend a lot of money on free agents over the past few seasons because the team was very young at all the key positions & not ready to compete for a championship. I’m pretty sure the payroll will explode following this season with Bowe, Hali, Flowers, Carr among others all set to become free agents.

    Beyond that, Pioli wouldn’t have agreed to become the KC GM if his hands were going to be tied with spending by Clark. He could have gone just about anywhere in the league, he didn’t choose KC to watch his legacy tarnished by a tight owner.

  • June 16, 2011  - COCHIEF says:

    Perhaps part of this was rebuilding with young players and that it was premature to sign a few high-priced veterans given this situation. Perhaps part of this was all the money spent by the Chiefs to renovate the stadium. Regardless, the Chiefs did invest a lot of money during these years.

    Hopefully, given current circumstances, more will be spent on improving the team in the future.

  • June 16, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Right on JasonC. I’m not sure how a team would make the 90% of Cap rule work during rebuilding. When a team is rebuilding and investing in unproven players they shouldn’t have a large payroll. Otherwise, the NFL becomes the NBA where over-paid, pedestrian players are rampant and trades are all about salary rather than talent. I would like to see a system that rewards players based on performance not potential…and possibly now even worse…available cap room.

  • June 16, 2011  - el cid says:

    As long as the Chiefs are 10-6 and in the playoff hunt, no one cares how much money the Hunt family stuffs in their pockets. But the last two years, rebuilding years, the lowest payroll may have missed a golden opportunity. A WR from free agency could have made a HUGE difference by the end of the season. If Pioli had found a high dollar free agent (as many begged for), the Hunts would still have had tons of money. Spend money wisely, fine but miss on a neglected position while keeping the money is unacceptable.

    Before we beat it to death, every team in the NFL is rebuilding every year to one degree or another. The NFL is all about parity, so to turn around a roster can happen in a short time, ESPECIALLY, if teams suppliment rosters with free agents. The Chiefs chose to keep their money and still reached 10-6, what would they have been with the “right” free agent in the “right” position? No, they chose to keep the money in the bank and that makes the Hunts cheap.

  • June 16, 2011  - Fansince93 says:

    I’m with Jason C on this one. Let’s wait and see. Clark Hunt knows that in order to fill the stadium they need to have a winning team on the field.

    Now that the Chiefs are positioned to be contenders for the next 3-5 years we’ll see the pocket book open up. Just wait.

  • June 16, 2011  - Rwh1974 says:

    Lowest payrole in the league and still Hunt cuts the pay of the people who can least afford it. Clark lacks the class his father had.

  • June 16, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    THANK YOU EL CID. Maybe this will demonstrate my point a little better. 1/2011, Ravens 30-Chiefs7. 1/2007, Indy 23-Chiefs8. 1/2004, Indy 38-Chiefs31. 1/1998 Denver 14-Chiefs10. 1/1996 Indy 10-Chiefs7. All of our “most recent playoff games”. ALL ONE AND DONE. I REST MY CASE. You just have to be willing to spend the money if you are serious about winning.

  • June 20, 2011  - The Kansas City Chiefs, Aubrayo Franklin, And The 90% Salary Floor - Arrowhead Addict - A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] with phrases like “puppet” and “suck-up” here). Regardless, the subject matter of his Morning Cup O’Chiefs last Thursday wasn’t one that can be viewed as biased even by the strongest Gretz detractors. He [...]

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