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NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement

Article 17
Anti-Collusion


  • Section 1. Prohibited Conduct
    (a)

    No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making as follows:

    (a)(i)

    whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player;

    (a)(ii)

    whether to submit or not to submit an Offer Sheet to any Restricted Free Agent;

    (a)(iii)

    whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player;

    (a)(iv)

    whether to exercise or not to exercise a Right of First Refusal; or (v) concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to any player for inclusion, or included, in a Player Contract.

    (b)

    Any approval or disapproval of a player’s contract by the Commissioner, or any communication thereof, timely notice of which is provided to the NFLPA cannot be the basis of any claim of collusion. The NFLPA or the affected Player shall have the right to appeal the Commissioner’s disapproval of such player contract to the System Arbitrator, pursuant to Article 15 and Article 14.

  • Section 2. Other Club Conduct

    No Club may have a policy not to negotiate with, or enter into a Player Contract with, any player who is free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club, on any of the following grounds, if such policy is inconsistent with Section 1 above:

    (a)

    that the player has previously been subject to the exclusive negotiating rights obtained by another Club in a College Draft, by virtue of a Required Tender to a player with less than three Accrued Seasons, or a Franchise Player designation; or

    (b)

    that the player has refused or failed to enter into a Player Contract for a prior season containing a Right of First Refusal or an option clause (i.e., any clause that authorizes an extension or renewal by a Club of a Player Contract beyond its stated term);

    (c)

    that the player has become a Restricted Free Agent or an Unrestricted Free Agent; or

    (d)

    that the player is or has been subject to any Right of First Refusal.

  • Section 3. Club Discretion

    Section 2 above does not diminish any Club’s right not to negotiate or contract with any particular player on any policy ground not specified above. In conjunction with other evidence of an alleged violation(s) of Section 1, a Club’s adherence to a policy identified in Section 2 above may be offered as evidence of an alleged violation of Section 1 above, but may not be the basis of any separate proceeding seeking any penalty or other relief against any Club or the NFL.

  • Section 4. League Disclosures

    Neither the NFL nor the Management Council shall knowingly communicate or disclose, directly or indirectly, to any NFL Club that another NFL Club has negotiated with or is negotiating with any Restricted Free Agent, unless and until an Offer Sheet for such Restricted Free Agent has been given to the Prior Club, or with any Unrestricted Free Agent, prior to the execution of a Player Contract with that Unrestricted Free Agent, if such communication or disclosure is inconsistent with Section 1 above. It shall not be a violation of this Article for the NFL to respond to an inquiry from a Club about whether and under what circumstances proposed transactions would be permissible under this Agreement or NFL Rules consistent with this Agreement. In conjunction with other evidence of an alleged violation of Section 1 above, a Club’s communication or disclosure of the kind identified in the first sentence of this Section may be offered as evidence of an alleged violation(s) of Section 1 above, but may not be the basis of any separate proceeding seeking any penalty or other relief against any Club or the NFL.

  • Section 5. Enforcement of Anti-Collusion Provisions

    Except as provided in Section 16(d) below, any player or the NFLPA, acting on that player’s or any number of players’ behalf, may bring an action before the System Arbitrator alleging a violation of Section 1 of this Article. In any such proceeding, the Federal Rules of Evidence shall apply. Issues of relief and liability shall be determined in the same proceeding (including the amount of damages, pursuant to Section 9 below, if any). The complaining party shall bear the burden of demonstrating by a clear preponderance of the evidence that (1) the challenged conduct was or is in violation of Section 1 of this Article and (2) caused any economic injury to such player(s).

  • Section 6. Burden of Proof

    The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 1 above. However, any of the types of evidence described in the preceding sentence may support a finding of a violation of Section 1 of this Article, but only in combination with other evidence which, by itself or in combination with such evidence, indicates that the challenged conduct was in violation of Section 1 of this Article. Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the NFL or its Clubs from arguing that any evidence is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 5 above. Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the NFLPA or any player from arguing that any evidence is sufficient to satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 5 above, except as set forth above.

  • Section 7. Summary Judgment

    The System Arbitrator may, at any time following the conclusion of the permitted discovery, determine whether or not the complainant’s evidence is sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact capable of satisfying the standards imposed by Sections 5 and/or 6 above. If the System Arbitrator determines that complainant’s evidence is not so sufficient, he shall dismiss the action.

  • Section 8. Remedies

    In the event that an individual player or players or the NFLPA acting on his, or their, behalf, successfully proves a violation of Section 1 of this Article, the player or players injured shall have the right:

    (a)

    To terminate his (or their) existing Player Contract(s) at his (or their) option, or void any Club’s Draft rights or other rights with respect to such player(s) at his (or their) option; any Player Contract terminated during the course of a playing season shall be terminated as of the end of that season. Such rights shall not arise until the recommendation of the System Arbitrator finding a violation is no longer subject to further appeal and must be exercised by the player within thirty (30) days therefrom. If, at the time the Player Contract is terminated, such player would have been a Restricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 9, such player shall immediately become a Restricted Free Agent upon such termination. If, at the time the Player Contract is terminated, such player would have been an Unrestricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 9, such player shall immediately become an Unrestricted Free Agent upon such termination. If, at the time the Player Contract is terminated, such player would have been subject to a Club’s exclusive negotiating rights, such player shall remain subject to such rights upon such termination. In any case described in the preceding three sentences, the player shall not be subject to any signing period. In the case of a Drafted Rookie who does not sign a Player Contract and who is given the option of voiding a Club’s Draft rights pursuant to this Subsection (a), such player shall then be treated as either: (i) a Drafted Rookie subject to the NFL waiver system as described in Article 6, Section 4, if the termination takes place during the player’s first League Year; or (ii) a Drafted Rookie subject to the rules of Article 6, Section 9, if the termination takes place during the player’s second League Year; or (iii) a Free Agent, if the termination takes place during the player’s third League Year or thereafter; and

    (b)

    To recover all of his damages, as described in Section 9 below, for any alleged injuries suffered as a result of the violation.

  • Section 9. Computation of Damages

    Upon any finding of a violation of Section 1 of this Article, compensatory damages (i.e., the amount by which any player has been injured as a result of such violation) shall be awarded. In addition, the System Arbitrator shall award non-compensatory damages (i.e., the amount exceeding compensatory damages) as follows:

    (a)

    Two times the amount of compensatory damages, in the event that all of the Clubs found to have violated Section 1 of this Article, have committed such a violation for the first time. Any Club found to have committed such a violation for the first time shall be jointly and severally liable for two times the amount of compensatory damages.

    (b)

    Three times the amount of compensatory damages, in the event that any of the Clubs found to have violated Section 1 of the Article, have committed such a violation for the second time. In the event that damages are awarded pursuant to this Subsection: (i) any Club found to have committed such a violation for the first time shall be jointly and severally liable for two times the amount of compensatory damages; and (ii) any Club found to have committed such a violation for the second time shall be jointly and severally liable for three times the amount of compensatory damages.

    (c)

    Three times the amount of compensatory damages, plus, for each Club found to have violated Section 1 of this Article for at least the third time, a fine of $5,000,000 in the event that any of the Clubs found to have violated Section 1 of this Article have committed such violation for at least the third time. In the event that damages are awarded pursuant to this Subsection: (i) any Club found to have committed such a violation for the first time shall be jointly and severally liable for two times the amount of compensatory damages; (ii) any Club found to have committed such a violation for at least the second time shall be jointly and severally liable for three times the amount of compensatory damages; and (iii) any Club found to have committed such a violation for at least the third time shall, in addition, pay a fine of $5,000,000.

    (d)

    For each League Year after the 2020 League Year, each of the enumerated fines set forth in this Subsection (c) above shall be adjusted by the same percentage as the change in Projected AR for that League Year as compared to Projected AR for the prior League Year (up to a maximum of ten percent (10%) per League Year).

  • Section 10. Player Election

    A proceeding prosecuting an alleged violation of Section 1 of this Article shall initially be limited to the issues of liability and damages sustained to the date of the System Arbitrator’s determination. In the event the System Arbitrator finds a violation, the player shall make a determination within thirty (30) days of the date the System Arbitrator’s determination is final, or within thirty (30) days after the last game of the season for such player (including any playoff games) if the finding is made during the course of the season, whether the player intends to void the applicable Player Contract or Draft right. If the player voids the applicable Player Contract or Draft right, the player may commence a supplemental proceeding before the System Arbitrator, for the purpose of determining his future damages, if any, only after the player has signed a new Player Contract or after the first scheduled game of the next regular season, whichever is earlier. If the player elects not to void the applicable Player Contract or Draft right, he may immediately commence a supplemental proceeding before the System Arbitrator for the purpose of determining his future damages, if any.

  • Section 11. Payment of Damages

    In the event damages are awarded pursuant to Section 9 above, the amount of compensatory damages shall be paid to the injured player or players. The amount of non-compensatory damages, including any fines, shall be paid directly to any NFL player pension fund, any other NFL player benefit fund, or any charitable fund for the benefit of present or former NFL players, as selected by the NFLPA, subject to the reasonable approval of the NFL.

  • Section 12. Effect on Cap Computations

    In the event that damages are awarded pursuant to Section 9 above, the amount of non-compensatory damages, including any fines, will not be included in any of the computations described in Article 12 or 13 above. The amount of compensatory damages awarded will be included in such computations.

  • Section 13. Effect of Salary Cap

    In awarding any amount of damages, the System Arbitrator shall take into account that in any League Year no Club would have been authorized to pay out any Salary in excess of that permitted under the Salary Cap.

  • Section 14. No Reimbursement

    Any damages awarded pursuant to Section 9 above must be paid by the individual Clubs found liable and those Clubs may not be reimbursed or indemnified by any other Club or the NFL.

  • Section 15. Costs

    In any action brought for an alleged violation of Section 1 of this Article, the System Arbitrator shall order the payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs by any party found to have brought such an action or to have asserted a defense to such an action without any reasonable basis for asserting such a claim or defense. Otherwise, each party shall pay his or its own attorneys’ fees and costs.

  • Section 16. Termination

    The NFLPA shall have the right to terminate this Agreement, under the following circumstances:

    (a)

    Where there has been a finding or findings of one or more instances of a violation of Section 1 of this Article with respect to any one NFL season which, either individually or in total, involved five or more Clubs and caused injury to 20 or more players; or

    (b)

    Where there has been a finding or findings of one or more instances of a violation of Section 1 of this Article with respect to any two consecutive NFL seasons which, either individually or in total, involved seven or more Clubs and caused injury to 28 or more players. For purposes of this Subsection 16(b), a player found to have been injured by a violation of Section 1 of this Article in each of two consecutive seasons shall be counted as an additional player injured by such a violation for each such NFL season; or

    (c)

    Where, in a proceeding brought by the NFLPA, it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that 14 or more Clubs have engaged in a violation or violations of Section 1 of this Article causing injury to one or more NFL players.

    (d)

    In order to terminate this Agreement:

    (d)(i)

    The proceeding must be brought by the NFLPA;

    (d)(ii)

    The NFL and the System Arbitrator must be informed at the outset of any such proceeding that the NFLPA is proceeding under this Section for the purpose of establishing its entitlement to terminate this Agreement; and

    (d)(iii)

    The System Arbitrator must find that the Clubs engaged in willful collusion with the intent of restraining competition among teams for players.

  • Section 17. Time Limits

    Any action under Section 1 of this Article must be brought within ninety (90) days of the time when the player knows or reasonably should have known with the exercise of due diligence that he had a claim, or within ninety (90) days of the first scheduled regular season game in the season in which a violation of Section 1 of this Article is claimed, whichever is later. Any party alleged to have violated Section 1 of this Article shall have the right, prior to any proceedings on the merits, to make an initial motion to dismiss any complaint that does not comply with the timeliness requirements of this section.

  • Section 18. Prior Conference

    Prior to the initiation of any proceeding under this Article by the NFLPA, the parties shall confer in person or by telephone to attempt to negotiate a resolution of the dispute.