Notebook: Holding firm on offset language?

While Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck got their way with their contracts, there is a sentiment among other NFL teams to stand strong on having "offset language" in the contracts of their first-rounders. Plus, Brett Favre talked about his frosty relationship with the Packers and NFL referees warned of the dangers of replacement refs.

The signings of quarterbacks and top two draft choices Andrew Luck of Indianapolis and Washington's Robert Griffin III on consecutive days this week, with neither deal including the so-called "offset language" that was the primary reason for the gridlock at the top of the first round, has prompted the general feeling that the logjam in the stanza will now be broken.

That will probably the case – eventually – but it's not yet a slam-dunk.

The next six first rounders, picks No. 3 through No. 8, were still without contracts as of midday Friday (Bucs safety Mark Barron, at No. 7, signed later Friday and avoided the offset language).

There remained some reluctance from teams with players in those slots to follow the precedents of the Luck and Griffin contracts, and to exclude the offset provisions, and not all of the clubs are prepared yet to fall into lock-step with the Colts and Redskins.

Miami, for instance, which chose the third quarterback off the board, Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall spot, has yet to propose a deal minus the offset arrangement, which provides a team some salary and cap relief if it releases a player and he signs with another team.

And there is this potential hold-up as well: A few agents with unsigned first-rounders actually feel, without saying so publicly, that some league-level executives are quietly suggesting to clubs that they hold firm for now on their insistence that the offset language be included in the contracts.

Favre: No relationship with Packers

Brett Favre doesn't have a strained relationship with the Packers. According to the three-time Most Valuable Player who spent 16 years with franchise, he has no relationship with them, period.

"Not really. I don't really have one," Favre told Deion Sanders in an interview with the NFL Network. "It'll happen someday. That day will come. I haven't lost any sleep over it, nor have they. ... I wish them well." It appears both sides expect that to change eventually. Packers president Mark Murphy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the franchise will wait at least another year before holding a ceremony to retire Favre's No. 4 jersey.

"Yes, he deserves that for what he did as a Packer," Murphy said Thursday. "Probably in a year or two. We want to do it at a time that's meaningful to him."

Favre's relationship with the Packers became frosty when he waffled regarding retirement for several offseasons. In 2008, general manager Ted Thompson finally decided to move on to Aaron Rodgers as the team's starting quarterback, only for Favre to decide he wanted to keep playing. It created a tense situation that became even more heightened when Green Bay refused to heed Favre's desire to be traded to division-rival Minnesota.

"We see it all the time. But, you know, I also understand that changes need to be made sometimes in spite of how you play. Because it'd be easy to say, ‘We're gonna let this guy go' if you didn't play very well," said Favre.

"(But) I had my best year my last year (in Green Bay). A lot has been said about their side, my side – the business part of it is it happens. I'm not upset with that, I really am not."

After one nondescript year with the Jets, Favre finally got his wish and concluded his career with two season with the Vikings. He finally retired last offseason, and isn't in a hurry to patch things up with the Packers and have a ceremony in his honor.

"I don't know what the future holds," Favre told NFL Network. "And think I'm crazy, but I don't need to have a day. I don't need to have a retirement, retire your jersey, all that stuff, to solidify my career.

"I'm not gonna sit here and say when that time should be, will be, or that I'm waiting by the phone."

Favre spent 20 seasons in the NFL, 16 with the Packers, and retired as the NFL's all-time winningest quarterback to go along with the most passing yards and touchdown passes in NFL history.

Refs warn of replacement dangers

During a Wednesday conference call with national media members, representatives from the NFL Referees Association made some cogent points.

And the zebras' absence, notwithstanding the remarks of Chicago middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who tacitly suggested a couple weeks ago that it wouldn't really make much of a difference, would diminish the game if a new CBA with the league isn't reached and the NFL uses replacements instead.

While it may have been just the normal kind of posturing inherent to every labor disagreement, the referees' contention that it will be a less safe game if replacements are utilized, struck a cord with at least some players and coaches. Probably not enough to make a difference in the impasse that currently exists, and for which there currently are no bargaining sessions scheduled, but one that could be magnified the closer it gets to the start of the regular season.

"It is hard to imagine taking a bunch of guys off the street, even with a couple weeks of training, and imagining them knowing all the ins and outs of the rules," one NFC quarterback told The Sports Xchange on Thursday. "And the fact is, it probably won't be as safe a game out there. For all the (complaining) we do about the refs, there is a level of respect that you're not going to use if they have (replacements) on the field."

Two points from the conference call that need some clarification: Addressing the safety issue, an NFLRA representative noted that there were fewer penalties in 2001, when the NFL was forced to use replacements for the first week of the season, the inference being that players weren't as well protected.

The representative noted that there were games with as few as five penalties and one contest with only one flag. Well, we can't address the number of penalties actually called, but there was an average of 10.13 penalties accepted per game The Opening week, only three of 15 contests included fewer than eight penalties, and none had just one. Not surprisingly, even with the replacement officials, the Raiders still had 10 penalties assessed. The average for the rest of the season, with the regular referees was 11.68 penalties assessed per game.

There were reports in some quarters that the NFLRA officials repeatedly referred to their possible replacements as "scabs" during the conference call.

Certainly the regular referees weren't exactly kind in characterizing the possible fill-ins, but looking through our notes from the call, we couldn't recall the term "scabs" being used at all. In fact, our scribblings from the call even note that the NFLRA members demonstrated great restraint in not using a term usually construed as derisive.

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