Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the NFL and the NFL Players' Association, the league's players' labor union, continue early CBA talks, the elimination of the NFL's archaic "funding rule" is a top priority for players, according to multiple reports.

The state of play: Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus, the team's NFLPA player representative, called it "almost a non-negotiable for us," per The Athletic.

How it works: The NFL's funding rule stipulates that every fully guaranteed dollar owed to a player, but not yet paid to him, must be placed in a league-run escrow account.

  • In other words, even if a player is owed guaranteed money over the course of two or three years, ownership still must place all of that money into a separate bank account.

The problem: Back when the NFL wasn't the cash cow that it is today and players had legitimate concerns about owners not being able to fulfill future financial obligations, this rule made sense and worked in the players' favor.

  • But in today's era, the funding rule has morphed into something completely different: a convenient excuse for ownership during contract negotiations.
  • Basically, teams will tell players that they can't afford to guarantee their deals because funding them would create cashflow issues. "Negotiations are a leverage game. And it's a cudgel they can go to," agent Jelani Roy told The Athletic.

The big picture: Thanks in part to the funding rule, fully-guaranteed contracts — which are the norm in the NBA, NHL and MLB — are a rarity in the NFL.

  • Last offseason, Kirk Cousins became the first QB to sign a multi-year, fully-guaranteed deal (three years, $84 million with the Vikings), and that only happened because he was the rare in-his-prime QB to hit free agency, which gave him all the leverage in the world.

The bottom line: The elimination of the NFL's funding rule might not make deals like the one Cousins signed the norm, but it would remove a giant roadblock in the players' ongoing fight for more guaranteed pay.

Go deeper: An 18-game NFL season might be unavoidable

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,193,661 — Total deaths: 716,735 — Total recoveries — 11,611,029Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,918,927 — Total deaths: 160,737 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Trump: "We are going a different way" on coronavirus aid

President Trump. Photo: Jim Watsonn/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration is "going a different way" with coronavirus aid after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again, suggesting he will use an executive order to address stimulus spending.

What he's saying: "Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's swift, sweeping China offensive

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's rhetoric on China has tended to run hotter than his actions — until now.

Why it matters: Even at the height of Trump's trade war, his administration never hit China as hard, as fast, and on as many fronts as it is right now.