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NFLPA subtly asks agents to reconsider sending players to Saints

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

The Saints and the NFLPA are in the middle of a war of words. (USATSI)
The Saints and the NFLPA are in the middle of a war of words. (USATSI)

On Friday morning, NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith sent a letter to player-agents in which he subtly advised them to reconsider trying to make future deals with the Saints. Apparently, the Saints aren't happy about it.

In the letter, obtained by CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, here's what Smith wrote to the agents based on potential workman's comp benefits for those who play in New Orleans:

As you know, our players are generally forced to seek workers' compensation benefits for injury care and loss of wages in the state where they are employed. Accordingly, we have always aggressively fought any effort by the NFL or its teams to seek "special" legislation which would bar or reduce workers' compensation benefits for professional athletes. Recently, we have opposed such efforts by the NFL and its teams in California, Arizona, North Carolina and now Louisiana. For example, in 2009/2010 we successfully fought an effort by the New Orleans Saints and the NFL to effectively reduce workers' compensation benefits for our players. Last week, the Saints organization again sponsored legislation that would substantially reduce workers' compensation benefits for players injured at any time other than during the 17 weeks of the regular season. In other words the bill, if passed, seeks to provide a lower benefit for a player injured in OTA's, mini-camps, training camp or even post-season. We are actively involved in the effort to defeat this bill but we feel it is important for you to consider the Saints' efforts given your representation of our players and the advice you would have to give to any free agent player considering an opportunity to play for the Saints.

Please advise your players of the potential consequences of the Saints' efforts should they sign with the Saints.

Here's the response by Saints attorney Chris Kane to USA Today:

"While the NFLPA has inappropriately and unprofessionally discouraged free agents from coming to Louisiana, they fail to mention that they have aggressively instigated legislative efforts in Louisiana since 2010 in an effort to undo the prevailing case law."

The exchange between the two sides began because Louisiana representative Chris Broadwater has proposed a bill that would give workers' compensation benefits to athletes based only on their earnings at the time of the injury (and not what they would have made if they stayed healthy). The bill has passed the state house and could soon be brought up in the senate.

But Kane says the NFLPA has tried to exert influence that would make an exception for NFL players.

"After defeating the NFLPA's legislative effort, the Saints did not previously move their bills in 2010 and 2012," Kane wrote to USA Today. "In 2014, after two more consistent cases came from the appellate courts, the NFLPA unsuccessfully tried to change the law yet again.

"Consequently, HB1069 is now being sought for passage to stop the needless litigation and annual lobbying efforts of the NFLPA to circumvent the established case law."

Here's quarterback Drew Brees' take, via a statement from the union: "There is no financial benefit to the state with this bill, only team management. I am disappointed that [bill sponsors] Representative [Chris] Broadwater and [Cameron] Henry would take such a stance against our players and other Louisiana workers. Whether we get hurt during the season or in the preseason, it is all the same. It is in preparation to help us win a championship for our community."

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