ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to discuss the latest developments regarding the NFL labor negotiations.
Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported Monday morning that a deal was close and was expected to be ready for a vote at the July 21 league meetings. However, there appears to be at least one key sticking point preventing the end of the lockout.
"The bottom line is they're still hung up on a couple of issues," Mortensen said. "The most, I think, troubling one — and to me a little surprising — is the rookie wage system that owners are hung up on, a matter that doesn't make sense to me, and it doesn't make sense to the players side."
Explained Mortensen: "The players have basically agreed that we're going to cut rookie salaries about in half in terms of the amount of money they're paid. … But where the players are pretty upset … what they're seeing is this control over the fifth year. In other words, the players really want after four years for these rookies — who are no longer rookies — to be able to experience free agency like a true veteran. Because since you've already slashed the rookie salaries in half … then they should be able to experience what most veterans do, and that is free agency after four years. Owners want a fifth-year option that's a little more restrictive than the players are willing to have. If there's going to be a fifth-year option, it's got to cost the owners. And that's where they're hung up at."
Added Mortensen: "It's been a thorn in the side they've been hung up on for a while. The thought was once you agreed to the revenue model, and how you're going to split revenue, that this should fall in. There shouldn't be an issue. But there is an issue, clearly. … I think there is a growing sense of optimism that this should get done. But I can tell you that the players really feel that they've gone about as far as they're going to go on this rookie matter."
Asked how optimistic he is a deal will get done this week, Mortensen said: "I can't understand why this rookie issue would hang up this agreement. So, obviously, I would be pretty optimistic. But when you listen to the two sides, knowing that they're dug in a little bit on this thing is a little troubling."
Mortensen credited the Patriots owner as playing a key role in getting this deal to the brink of completion.
"There is no question — no question, that Robert Kraft has been a major, major voice in what is about to happen, and he has been a voice of reason, from what I gather from both sides," he said.
As for the length of the deal, Mortensen said: "I'm hearing seven years … seven years with maybe an option to add three more to turn it into a 10-year deal. But seven years is the number I'm hearing. Which is good news — the longer, the better."
Asked if the Patriots will have an advantage from the short offseasons as less stable teams struggle to catch up, Mortensen agreed to a point.
"You could probably name a dozen teams, and certainly the Patriots would be right near the top of that," he said. "But they also have rookies they've got to get indoctrinated into their system. One of the great strengths of Bill Belichick, he has to be the best teacher in terms of just teaching the game, coaching the game. Coaches are teachers. Rookies are rookies. In that regard, the Patriots are handcuffed like everybody else.
"But the teams that are really in trouble are the obvious ones, new coaching staffs … and teams with unstable quarterback situations or rookie quarterbacks. We know the Patriots don't have an unstable quarterback situation, and they certainly don't have an unstable coaching staff."
Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Jeff Goodman calls Mike and Rob to drop a ton of knowledge on the upcoming NBA Draft and some of the names available. Sorry fans - he doesn't see Kevin Durant or any big-named free agents coming to Boston and thinks they'll end up making the third pick this season. He also says that there is NO WAY he would trade next year's Brooklyn pick because the draft will be very deep. He discusses the chances of trading with Philly for Okafor, why he like Kris Dunn so much and much more.
Brad Stevens makes his first appearance on the Dale and Holley with Thornton show. We discuss the Atlanta series and what went wrong, and where the Celtics go from here.
Ian Thomsen of NBA.com joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss to discuss the next moves for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics with the NBA Draft Lottery rapidly approaching. They discussed the crazy ending to Game 2 of Thunder vs Spurs and picked the player they would build their pretend new franchise around.
Danny Picard recaps the Red Sox 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.
Who is to blame for the Red Sox 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays? Danny points the finger.
Tim talks with Red Sox manager John Farrell before the Red Sox game against the Blue Jays. John talks about Clay Buchholz move to the bullpen and adjustments he expects him to have to make going from the starter to the bullpen.
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.
Mike Mutnansky, Butch Stearns, and Jon Meterparel discuss the absence of Malcolm Butler at last week's OTAs and replay a sound byte of Butler from May 21st on WEEI not wanting to discuss his contract. Is Malcolm Butler headed for a contract dispute, and how valuable is he?
Mike Mutnansky, Jon Meterparel and Butch Stearns discuss the Celtics and their level of interest in Kevin Durant after Oklahoma City's losses in games five and six; also what should the Celtics do with the third pick in the draft coming up in June?
Jon Meterparel handles Kirk Minhane's Headlines segment with sound from Robert Kraft at a Jewish University's commencement speech, Julian Edelman screaming 'Free Brady', and Johnny Depp in trouble with his ex Amanda Heard
Laroy Streat keeps setting fire to the airways and talks people singing his Freestyle Fridays to him when they see him on the street! Catch our guy every friday via final drive! He's must listen radio!
We end the week with the best in sound Laroy Streat continues to set fire to the airways with his music.
The guys talk Red Sox pitching and the problems that could arise with Buchholz struggles.
Jerry is joined by Graig Murphy to talk stand up comedy. Until Graig pretty much hijacks the podcast to tell his side of the "Big Show Unfiltered" story.
Ben and Russ preview the Champions League Final between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Who we want to win, who we think will win, and why. We also talk about our wishes for the USMNT.
The Dennis and Callahan malcontent is joined by former WEEI personality Pete Sheppard to talk about his past involvement with the station and his current gig in New Hampshire. You'll be glad to hear Pete hasn't changed one bit.
Deflategate rage explodes on the guys. They argue whether Brady is dragging it out or he should defend his innocence and the callers get in on the action.More from this show
Mike and Rob discuss how OTAs are not the forum to make decisions on the future of the team and how fans on Twitter can't accept that. They also get into the contract situations for Malcolm Butler and Dont'a Hightower.More from this show