The march to the end of the lockout could be held up, at least temporarily.
Patriots guard Logan Mankins and San Diego Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson are asking to be made unrestricted free agents or given $10 million to settle as lead plaintiffs of the Brady v. NFL case, an NFL source confirmed. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports first reported the development.
Both players are in their seventh year and had the franchise tag placed on them by their teams. We discussed the potential for a demand like this in today's paper.
This has the potential to hold up the ending of the lockout. The NFL can't resume business until it settles the antitrust lawsuit -- with all plaintiffs.
Mankins and Jackson have felt abused by the system for several years. Both players were only given restricted tenders in the 2010 uncapped year when unrestricted free agency was pushed to six years. Both players had their tenders cut when they didn't report to their teams until October.
"They’re asking for something they believe – and I think most people would believe – is fair compensation for what they’ve had to go through," an NFLPA source told Yahoo! "My guess would be that the owners or the league will pay them."
The NFL is not taking kindly to the power play being put on by the two players.
"Two guys are going to hold up a huge pay day for 1,898 other guys? After two years? When neither ever went to a meeting, a hearing, a mediation session or even showed up in court? Good luck with that," the source said.
Jackson was at a hearing in Minnesota at one point.
According to Yahoo!, quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees could also make settlement demands.
Both agents involved in this, Frank Bauer (Mankins) and Neil Schwartz (Jackson), are not afraid to take unpopular stances. Schwartz represented Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis last year when he missed most of training camp.
Looks like the NFL won't back down on this. You can be sure the Patriots have no interest in letting Mankins walk. This could be a very expensive and contentious game of chicken, with only the NFL season at stake.
One possible resolution is for the price to be negotiated, and the league as a whole could pay it.
Former Packers executive Andrew Brandt, the founder of NationalFootballPost.com and a sports law professor, said Mankins and Jackson can opt out of the class-action lawsuit, but can't hold up the settlement.
Even still, just delaying the settlement a few days or a week is trouble enough because days are at a premium to keep the preseason -- and the nearly $1 billion it generates -- fully intact.