Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (69) warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing the NBA’s Amnesty Clause to the NFL: Which Viking Gets the Ax?


We’re going on day 1,642 of the NFL offseason and still have one week to go before training camp starts. Three major sports are in their offseason, and the fourth major sport, Yasiel Puig, is taking a break for a few days. And maybe the longest countdown in history[1], the dead space between the season finale of AMC’s Mad Men and the beginning of the final season of Breaking Bad is creeping along slower than a 90-year-old grandmother driving her Buick.

Simply put, we’re bored.

Maybe the two most interesting (and by that, I mean barely even news) stories in sports right now are:

A) The made up, much too early and way overanalyzed “pursuit” of LeBron James in 2014

B) Some of the NBA’s most overpaid players being cut via the amnesty provision

Riveting stuff. [2]

So we thought we’d take some NBA news and apply it to the Vikings. Unfortunately for story idea A, it’s looking less and less likely that LeBron James will leave the NBA to pursue a career in the NFL, much less the Vikings[3]. Although, he should pretend to leave the NBA for the NFL for one day to:

A) Get attention (I’ve heard he enjoys that?) through the second and much more dramatic episode of “The Decision.” It could be called “The Decision 2: Return of the King.” Which, by the way, would set up an inevitable trilogy, and who doesn’t love the same story getting shoved down their throats three different times, right Todd Phillips?

 B) Stick it to Michael Jordan with the 1-2 haymaker of “anything you can do, I can do better” and a day later the, “Dude, you serious?” And then come back to whichever NBA team he wants and wear 45 for the rest of his career.

Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell arrives for the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

 

That leaves the amnesty provision being hypothetically stapled to the back of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement (because the NFL’s CBA is just lying on a desk somewhere waiting to be tinkered with) and the subsequent “indefinite suspensions” handed down by Roger Goodell on a few clerical workers in the NFL front office.

 

What is the amnesty provision?

The amnesty provision in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement is a clause that allows each of the NBA teams a one-time opportunity to release a player to waivers without incurring any cap penalties for the move. It’s important to note that it can only be used once in the 10-year span of the CBA, not once per season.

There are your Cliffsnotes. For those who want a more in-depth explanation, go here.

 

NBA players who have recently met the amnesty fairy

Essentially, the only reason you would amnesty a player (since you only get one chance) is if that player is overpaid and underproducing and you believe either you can find an equal replacement for far cheaper or you don’t need a replacement. With that in mind, here are some of the players who were recently amnestied and how much money their former team stands to save from the move.

Mike Miller, Miami Heat, $30 million over two years

Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers, $14 million

Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte Bobcats, $18.1 million over two years

 

So about that pesky staple..

Let’s play Rick Spielman (I know, I know, worst game ever). But the good news is we don’t have to give any mundane press conferences about nothing. And to the jokester Rick Spielmans out there, please don’t try to sign Brett Favre.

Obviously there are big differences between the NBA and NFL in terms of team size, salary disbursement and contract language, so the amnesty provision would mean considerably less in the NFL, but still, every year the Redskins a team signs someone to a ridiculous contract. For the NFL’s sake, we’ll just call this the Albert Haynesworth Rule.

So if the Vikings could amnesty any player on their current roster, who, if anybody, would get the ax?

 

Jared Allen (2013 cap number: $17,063,956, highest on the team)

While I think it’s far more likely the Vikings would just renegotiate and extend Allen’s contract if they absolutely needed the cap space, if he wasn’t open to the idea of a restructure/extension, Allen could be the ideal candidate to be amnestied. He’s one of the few players in recent memory who will actually get to see the final, backloaded year of his big contract. Allen turned 31 in April and saw a decline in many statistical categories last year, including solo and assisted tackles, sacks, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. The advanced stats tell the same story:

 

Year

Games

WPA

EPA

SC

Tkl

Asst

TF

Sk

SkYd

PD

QBHit

FF

TklLoss

Int

2011

16

2.06

80.5

70

46

17

0.92

22

151

4

28

4

21

1

2012

16

0.84

42.2

56

39

13

0.75

12

66

3

23

1

17

0

 

WPA – Win Probability Added

EPA – Expected Points Added
SC – Success Count – the rate at which a player makes positive plays
TF – Tackle Factor – a ratio of tackles a player makes for his team

 

There’s more to it than just stats, but just think of what the Vikings could have done with an extra $17 million in cap space, especially with Everson Griffen and Christian Ballard waiting in the wings.

 

Kevin Williams (2013 cap number: $5,000,000)

May 29, 2013; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams (93) adjusts his helmet at the Minnesota Vikings OTA at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Though I’d hate to see Williams go, he’s an obvious target for the amnesty provision. Just like his linemate Jared Allen, Williams is getting up there in age; he turns 33 in August. He has also seen a decline since his prime. But the big reason Williams would be an ideal amnesty target is the stable of young defensive tackles looking over his shoulder. Letroy Guion and, to a much lesser extent, Fred Evans have the nose tackle taken care of, and Christian Ballard, who was a big part of the defense last year despite not starting, deserves to see the field more in 2013. Oh, and then there’s Sharrif Floyd, the consensus Top 10 pick in this year’s draft who fell to the Vikings at 23 because his arms are “too short.” The Vikings have great talent at defensive tackle, and amnestying Kevin Williams (and saving $5 million in the process to use somewhere else) would be very intriguing.

 

Charlie Johnson (2013 cap number: $3,850,000)

Jun 19, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Charlie Johnson (74) runs drills at Vikings Minicamp at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson restructured his contract to save the Vikings some money, but only $500,000. Johnson greatly underachieved last year. He’s not a guaranteed starter in 2013, and he could be looking at some stiff competition in camp. Johnson may very well find himself filling the swingman shoes on the offensive line this season, and while $3.8 million isn’t out of the question for a reliable backup, there are cheaper options out there.

John Carlson (2013 cap number: $2,600,000)

Sep 23, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end John Carlson (89) against the San Francisco 49ers at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports[gallery]

 

I’m not pulling any punches, John Carlson was a bum last year. Eight catches, 43 yards. Carlson was such a bad free-agent signing, the Redskins were actually jealous (No one steals Dan Snyder’s thunder!). What made it so much worse was all the BS we heard from Musgrave & Co. about the production and flexibility having two tight ends “of this caliber” will give us.

Carlson did take a pay cut, and his cap number is low enough now that it wouldn’t really make sense to amnesty him. I really don’t believe he is eight catches, 43 yards-bad. The rational me wants to believe last year was a fluke and hope for something better in 2013, but the irrational me just wants him gone.

Good news: As far as Carlson’s improvement goes, we really set the bar low for 2013, right?

 

Take it to the bank

As another option, the Vikings could just choose to hold on to their Dan Snyder pass until the right opportunity presents itself. It’s fair to wonder if this particular change to the NFL CBA would change the landscape of free agency. Is it possible even the “smart” teams would pursue the big contracts and the sexy free agents as long as they still held the insurance of the amnesty? Would we ever see a 10+ team bidding war for the top free agent in a given year?

How long before this happens and they televise it?

 

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[1] Not including the countdown to the end of Rebecca Black’s Friday, of course.

[2] But combine those two two stories and you actually have something very interesting, no?

[3] If anything, LeBron would somehow be forced to declare for the NFL draft and be drafted by the Cleveland Browns, then after a few years, “take his talents back to south beach” and sign with the Dolphins in free agency – history always finds a way of repeating itself.


 

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