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Report: WR Jackson, G Mankins demand to become free agents

The agents for San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson and New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins are demanding that their clients either become unrestricted free agents or receive $10 million as part of a settlement of the Brady et al v. National Football League et al antitrust case, according to a Yahoo! Sports report Tuesday.

Jackson and Mankins are among the 10 plaintiffs in the suit and have been designated franchise players by their respective teams. Both players opted to sit out much of the 2010 season after failing to reach long-term agreements with their respective teams.

Jackson skipped the first 10 games of the season, returning in Week 12. Mankins held out for the Patriots' first seven games and was selected to the Pro Bowl for his performance in the remaining nine.

A settlement of the Brady v. NFL lawsuit is one of the final remaining issues on the table for owners and players as they near an agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Sources told Yahoo! that quarterbacks Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts also could demand a franchise tag exemption, although another source said each is less likely to cause a problem with the sides so close to a deal.

To that end, Brees and Manning, along with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- the three top plaintiffs in the antitrust suit vs. the NFL -- released a statement last Wednesday backing their negotiating team's position and imploring that a deal be reached soon.

"We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done," the quarterbacks said in the statement, their first as a group since they filed suit March 11. "This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way."

Brees later tweeted that he is not looking for special treatment in a settlement.

"All media claims about me wanting a personal reward for this deal are false. I hope you all know me better than that," Brees wrote.

He continued: "I want no special perks. My job is to get a fair deal for all players, and I am proud to represent them all - past, present and future"

The agent who represents both Manning and Brees told the *Indianapolis Star* on Tuesday that his clients are not seeking special treatment in the new deal.

"Asserting anything else is nonsense,'' Tom Condon said. "Drew and Peyton have been two of the staunchest supporters of the players throughout this process. "What they are doing is endorsing the players' (bargaining position), not pursing anything individually.''

Jackson, Mankins and Manning were designated franchise players prior to the lockout. Brees is in the final year of his current contract and would be eligible for the franchise designation following the upcoming season.

Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe responded to the report Tuesday, expressing frustration, mixed with sarcasm, in a Twitter post.

"Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being 'that guy'. #d-----bags"

There is precedent for Jackson and Mankins to request the lifting of the franchise tag, Yahoo! reports. As part of the settlement of the Reggie White case in 1993, none of the plaintiffs in that case could be named franchise players.

"They're asking for something they believe –- and I think most people would believe –- is fair compensation for what they've had to go through," an NFL Players Association source told Yahoo!. "My guess would be that the owners or the league will pay them."

Brees was one of the players present Tuesday at a meeting of the NFL Players Association executive committee members in Washington, D.C., a precursor to Wednesday's important meeting with representatives from all 32 teams,'s Steve Wyche reports.

The mission is to "push through" to reach a deal now that the finish line is visible, a trade association source told Wyche. It is uncertain to put time elements on how soon things could com together because settlement talks remain fluid, the source said.

"The grass is cut, but the hay is not in the barn yet. We've got a lot of work to do," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae told the Associated Press Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller and lawyers for retired NFL players joined labor talks with representatives of owners and current players Tuesday as signs mounted that the league's lockout might almost be over.

The court-appointed mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, also was at the session, his second consecutive day overseeing negotiations at a New York law firm. The sides were trying to close a deal to resolve the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

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