Poison pills here to stay 

October, 12, 2006
10/12/06
9:56
AM ET
Poison pills here to stay: Attempts to fix the poison pill problem like the one used by the Vikings when they signed guard Steve Hutchinson are failing. The Management Council and the NFLPA are in the final stages of completing a lengthy document that will be distributed to teams. While fixing the poison pill concept was one of the league's priorities, the NFL deemed the trade off to fixing the pill too steep. Hutchinson signed a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Vikings, after being designated a transition player by the Seahawks. As a transition player, Hutchinson was allowed to sign with another team as long as the Seahawks had a chance to match.

The Vikings put clauses in the deal called poison pills that would have forced the Seahawks to guarantee all $49 million of the contract. The Seahawks and the league were furious. The union put a high price on eliminating those types of poison pills. In the end, the NFL felt so few players are affected that it wasn't worth giving more to the players in the CBA extension.

While the NFL won't be able to prevent teams from using poison pill clauses to steal restricted free agents, the league believes it won't be a big issue during the CBA extension. First, the Seahawks experience taught teams to franchise key free agents, instead of transitioning them. Second, more and more teams signed rookies to four-year contracts, eliminating many of the restricted free agents of the future. Third, the new CBA added a second-round designation that gives teams the chance to ward off offers on key special teams, and undrafted or low round draft choices, when they reach their restricted free agent years.

NFC facing conference call: This will be a key weekend for the NFC in its battles with the AFC. The AFC has dominated for several years, but better quarterback play in the NFC may be cutting the difference. The NFC leads this year's series 9-6, and there are six interconference games this weekend. The AFC is becoming the defensive conference this season, even though it boasts some of the NFL's best quarterbacks. This year, NFC teams are scoring three points a game more than AFC teams, in what has been a low scoring start to the season.


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