NFL players file collusion case against ownership; Richardson prime example?

The NFL Players Association has filed a collusion claim against the NFL Owners, accusing the NFL of conspiring to restrict players’ salaries last season.

It’s expected that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson would be the prime example. Richardson slashed veterans before the season started and refused to sign free agents that would have helped the team compete. Despite having a payroll that was near the middle of the pack in the NFL, there was a large sum of salary that was owed to players that were no longer on the team — most notably QB Jake Delhomme. When factoring in the “dead money”, the Panthers had one of the lowest payrolls and one of the youngest teams in the league.

Richardson held a press conference a couple weeks ago, his first one in roughly 9 seasons, and said that the reason that the Panthers did not sign players was because he thought the team already had talent and that he wanted to ensure Fox, who Richardson retained because he didn’t want to pay two head coaches in 2010, would play the younger players and allow them to grow and learn.

Could Richardson’s press conference be a CYA for this collusion claim? If he comes out and states publicly that the reasons for slashing the veteran salaries and not replacing them on the roster is because he wants to use younger players, he sets himself up for an excuse against the collusion claims. As a central figure in the owners’ side in the CBA negotiations, Richardson would be the one owner you’d expect to know what is going on from top to bottom.

And really, does anyone buy that Richardson thought that the team would be successful with a lame duck coaching staff and so much inexperience?

It’s all about the CBA and CYA.