Here are today’s reports concerning the current CBA negotiations:
- Players are still “majorly divided” over the prospect of a 17-game season, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. We previously heard that NFL ownership has agreed to meet with the union at the Combine on the evening of February 25, and Fowler says player reps could vote as early as February 26. However, a source told Fowler that “[a]nything is possible at this point.”
- Fowler reiterates that players want to go back to owners and continue negotiating, but the owners have said that no more negotiations will take place and that the current iteration of the CBA is the owners’ best and final offer.
- Ben Volin of the Boston Globe does a nice job of breaking down the major tenets of the current proposal, and he suggests the owners may not be merely posturing when they say the CBA is not going to get any better for the players. Indeed, players have historically folded under the prospect of a lockout, and if a new agreement is not in place by the time the current one expires in March 2021, the owners will have even more leverage than they currently do.
- Plus, as Volin points out, the average NFL career is three years, so while the league’s elite can perhaps afford to drive a hard bargain, the middle- and lower-classes want the new CBA and the immediate raises for younger players that it provides. On the other hand, Volin believes the owners did not really make any significant concessions in terms of major financial battlegrounds like the franchise tag formula or a quicker path to free agency, so the union’s reluctance to pull the trigger is understandable.
- The 17-game schedule is obviously the major sticking point, but the expanded playoff field is also a part of the equation. League owners believe that they don’t need player approval for the expansion, which they intend to move forward with in 2020 even if the players don’t ratify a new CBA, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets. However, as Pro Football Talk notes (via Twitter), unless owners already have the right to expand the playoffs under the current CBA, it seems as if that issue would be one that needs to be collectively bargained.
- Under the proposed version of the new CBA, players would be capped at $250K for their 17th game check, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets. Therefore, many players would play that game for less than they would usually make — a player with a $4.25MM annual salary earns $250K per week — which is obviously problematic.
- One of the benefits of getting a deal done quickly is the fact that it would help facilitate new broadcast deals, thereby allowing the league (and its players) to capitalize on the NFL’s recent ratings rise and avoid the possibility of networks getting cold feet over labor unrest. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports says salary cap projections are already being made for as far out as the 2027 season, which suggests that broadcasting rights negotiations are already quite far along or the owners have agreeable proposals in front of them (Twitter link).