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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 3 hours ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."