Collective Bargaining Agreement

Extra Points: CBA, Clowney, Julio, Butt

As expected based on the past several weeks of talks, there will be no new collective bargaining agreement before Week 1. The parties’ latest round of discussions ended this week without much movement, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes no more meetings are currently scheduled. The owners continue to push for an 18-game season, while the players want a greater revenue share than their 47% figure without adding any additional regular-season contests. But the sides have made progress on issues like increased league-minimum salaries and health and safety components, Pelissero adds. With NFL-NFLPA meetings more difficult to arrange during the season, due to players’ focuses shifting to game preparation, there is now an increased possibility we will get to 2020 without a new CBA in place. That would mean final-year-of-a-CBA rules going into place. This CBA expires after the 2020 season.

Here is the latest from around the league, as rosters continue to take shape leading up to Saturday’s cutdown:

  • It continues to look less and less likely Jadeveon Clowney will wear a Texans uniform again. A bevy of teams are interested, even if a Clowney-to-Miami proposition has hit snags on multiple fronts. Bill O’Brien, who was reported to be against a Clowney extension before this year’s franchise tag deadline, said he will reconvene with Clowney if he signs his tag tender, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Clowney has now threatened to miss regular-season time.
  • We are now less than nine days away from the Falcons‘ opener, and it could put Julio Jones to a decision. The All-Pro wideout did not skip training camp but he would soon be set to play in games on the league’s 13th-highest-AAV receiver deal. Thomas Dimitroff said (via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com) the team believes this process is “very close” to being completed. Jones’ current deal runs through the 2020 season.
  • Jake Butt has endured another setback. The Broncos tight end who has undergone three reconstructive ACL surgeries will have another knee procedure soon, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. This will be a minor surgery on Butt’s left knee, that was operated on last year. At this point, it should be considered a safe bet Butt will land on the Broncos’ IR list. The Broncos have the former All-American under contract through 2020 and could give him another medical redshirt year of sorts by placing him on IR before finalizing their roster. Butt missed most of Denver’s preseason work.
  • The Texans may have their backup quarterback back soon. A.J. McCarron has resumed throwing, per Wilson, pointing to the longtime Bengals QB2 being available in Week 1. McCarron has been dealing with a thumb injury for most of August. Houston signed McCarron to a one-year, $3MM deal to be Deshaun Watson‘s backup.

NFL, NFLPA Schedule More CBA Talks

Another round of collective bargaining agreement talks will transpire this week. The NFL and NFLPA will meet on Monday night and into Tuesday in Chicago for what will be the seventh round of discussions regarding the league’s next CBA, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

While the talks are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, it is not a guarantee this will be a two-day event. Earlier this summer, the parties ended a round of negotiations scheduled for three days after one.

These talks have all taken place over the past few months, and they are believed to be less contentious than those that led up to the 2011 CBA’s completion. Neither side anticipates a 2021 work stoppage, though the NFLPA has consistently attempted to prepare players for that reality.

The frequent meetings represent progress, but we have not heard much in the way of actual steps being taken toward a new agreement. The sides’ pre-Week 1 goal no longer appears to be in the picture, and while the league initially did not want CBA talks interfering with its 100th season, that looks almost certain to happen.

The current agreement expires after the 2020 season. However, if the NFL enters the 2020 offseason without a new CBA, uncapped rules — like teams being able to use both the franchise and transition tags — would be in place next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Progress Elusive In CBA Talks

While the NFL and the NFLPA continue to set up meetings, the sides still look to have a long way to go toward finalizing the league’s next collective bargaining agreement.

The parties will reconvene on Monday, and ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano reports another session is scheduled for Tuesday (Twitter link). However, for a process both sides once set out to finish before Week 1, no immediate end is in sight. The talks throughout this offseason have yielded little in the way of progress, Graziano adds, with the revenue split being the main point of contention.

As of late July, the league and the union were far apart on the central component of these discussions. It does not appear that has changed, but Graziano notes both sides do not believe a 2021 work stoppage is likely. The players’ current share of league revenue cannot fall below 47%, and they would like that figure to rise under the next CBA. Discussing the raising of the league’s spending floor, or reformatting it, represents another way the union has attempted to increase salaries for the next NFL era.

The current CBA covers the 2019 and ’20 seasons, and the NFLPA has consistently warned its talent base about the prospect of another stoppage. The union again issued some pointers to prepare players in the event this happens again. Every scheduled regular-season game has unfolded since 1987, the last in-season stoppage. Fifteen games occurred that year, although only 12 involved the league’s full workforce. In 2011, the lockout ended in late July.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL, NFLPA Set To Meet Aug 19

The NFL and the players’ union will meet again on Monday, Aug 19 for another full bargaining session, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. In the interim, there will be staff meetings scheduled for this week to discuss some secondary issues.

Unsurprisingly, Pelissero hears that the No. 1 topic to be discussed will be the overall revenue split between the league and its players. Recently, we heard that the two sides are far apart on a revenue split. In light of that, a new deal is not expected to be in place by the owners’ unofficial pre-Week 1 target date. Meanwhile, the owners have backed off the goal of having the next collective bargaining agreement in place by then.

There are a myriad of issues to be discussed beyond that, including the owners’ hope that the players – in a roundabout way – will contribute money towards stadium projects and relocations.
As it stands, the current CBA expires after the 2020 season. Without a new CBA in place, we could be headed towards an eventual labor stoppage.

NFL, NFLPA Resume Talks

The NFL and NFL Players Association will meet on Tuesday to discuss the collective bargaining agreement, according to Mike Florio of PFT. It’s a promising sign – earlier this summer, the two sides were slated to talk for consecutive days, but pulled the plug before day one was finished.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that real progress is being made in talks. Eight years ago, the two sides wound up in a lockout, so the possibility of a labor stoppage still looms large. As it stands, the current CBA is set to expire until after next season.

Recently, we heard that the two sides are far apart on a revenue split. In light of that, a new deal is not expected to be in place by the owners’ unofficial pre-Week 1 target date. Meanwhile, the owners have backed off the goal of having the next collective bargaining agreement in place by then.

Extra Points: QBs, Cap, Sanders, Nkemdiche

The latest installment of Mike Sando’s annual quarterback tiers emerged recently, via The Athletic (subscription required). While Russell Wilson ascended into Tier 1 for the first time, evaluators are much less bullish on two of his top dual-threat brethren. Both Cam Newton and Dak Prescott come in on Tier 3, with the shoulder injuries the Panthers passer has suffered in recent years dropping him off his previous Tier 2 placement. The anonymous voter panel, comprised of executives and coaches, placed Newton as the league’s No. 15 quarterback and the Cowboys‘ fourth-year pilot at No. 17. In a separate piece, Sando notes no Tier 3 quarterback who has been paid as a top-10 passer, which seems likely for Prescott by Week 1, has taken his team to the playoffs that season. Newton has two years remaining on his Panthers-friendly deal. Tier 2 quarterbacks, per past Sando surveys, were 8-for-29 in guiding teams to the playoffs with top-10 APY figures since 2014.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • One of the topics brought up in this year’s CBA talks: the spending floor. Currently, teams are required to spend 89% of their cap over a four-year period. The NFLPA has proposed forcing teams to spend more, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. One of the proposals floated would increase that 89% threshold to 95%; another would involve reducing the number of years factored into these spending equations from four to two. There is no policy in place mandating teams spend a certain amount each year, only through four-year windows.
  • One issue that will likely change in the new CBA, per Graziano: the league’s marijuana policy. The NFL has already softened its stance on marijuana, through a 2014 change, and has now formed a committee to study alternative pain-management techniques. This points to more leniency on the weed front.
  • No team was willing to take on Robert Nkemdiche‘s first-round contract the Cardinals just shed. The 2016 first-round pick cleared waivers Monday and is now in free agency. The former No. 1 overall recruit reported to Cardinals camp in less-than-ideal shape and is coming off a season marred by a torn ACL. It may be a long road back for the 24-year-old defensive lineman, who did register 4.5 sacks (the first QB drops of his career) last season.
  • Emmanuel Sanders returned to 11-on-11 work at Broncos camp Monday, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (on Twitter). This marked the first such participation for the 32-year-old wide receiver since before his Achilles tear last December. The Broncos did not stick Sanders on their active/PUP list to start training camp, and with more than five weeks remaining before Week 1, it appears a good bet the 10th-year wideout, barring a setback, will be ready to start the season on time.

NFL, NFLPA Far Apart On CBA Revenue Split

While the NFL and the NFLPA met multiple times before the recent summit, the most recent meeting provided the clearest picture as to the status of the next collective bargaining agreement. This may not be progressing as both sides hope.

The session in Chicago represented the first time during this CBA negotiation cycle that the parties exchanged proposals, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. With the revenue split entering the equation, a 4 1/2-hour meeting led to the rest of that week’s powwows being nixed because the sides were too far apart. Monday’s follow-up meeting morphed from a key negotiating session to a meeting based around more peripheral matters. The revenue split subject was not on today’s agenda.

The league and the union are still slated to meet Tuesday, Breer adds, but it’s unclear if the big-picture subjects will be discussed. The parties’ next summit is scheduled for mid-August. League owners wanted more time to plan a new proposal, having seen the players’ for the first time, according to Breer. The players are also planning to amend their initial proposal.

While categorizing this round of talks as more productive than where the parties were at this point of the previous CBA cycle, Breer does not expect a new deal to be in place by the owners’ unofficial pre-Week 1 target date. The owners have backed off the goal of having the next collective bargaining agreement in place by then.

With the current CBA not set to expire until after next season, this process being completed in 2019 may be difficult. The union continues to prepare players for a possible 2021 work stoppage, sending out a “work stoppage worksheet” (Twitter link) themed around saving money in the event another lockout comes. Without a new deal in place, next offseason will include new contract and salary cap rules specific to the final year of the CBA, which means no June 1 release designations and the ability of teams to use both the franchise and transition tags to keep players off the free agent market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gurley, Longacre, CBA

In his first day on the field at Rams training camp, Todd Gurley looked like vintage Gurley, The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore writes.

The All-Pro back looked like his old self early, showing an ability put plenty of weight on his knee and cut without any apparent issue. That knee, of course, underwent reconstructive surgery in college and gave him issues down the stretch in 2018, leading to C.J. Anderson‘s breakout stint in the playoffs.

As Bonsignore writes, that he looked good doesn’t mean much at this point. It’s all about getting him on the field and keeping him there over the course of a 16-game season. The Rams will be sure to take it easy with Gurley, but this is a great first step for one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers.

A healthy Gurley, who led the league in rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive season in 2018, would make the reigning NFC champions the conference’s favorites once again thanks to its loaded offense and talent-rich defense.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Buccaneers safety Orion Stewart was carted off the field on Sunday with an apparent serious right knee injury, Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The safety was covering Cameron Brate when their legs tangled, leading Stewart to come down awkwardly. A free agent acquisition in 2019, Stewart was working with the Bucs’ second unit.
  • Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard suffered a knee injury in training camp and is expected to “miss some time,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. Just how long that “some time” is remains unclear, but the defensive end didn’t return to practice on Friday due to swelling and soreness. Colts head coach Frank Reich said the injury isn’t season-ending.
  • Just four days after the Cardinals signed linebacker Matt Longacre, the team released him on Sunday, Florio writes. The move comes just a day after the team activated Brooks Reed from the physically unable to perform list. In 2018, Longacre appeared in 13 games with the Rams, recording one sack and 17 tackles.
  • Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels said he received interest from 13 teams but decided to join Detroit because he wanted to play for head coach Matt Patricia, Florio writes. Though the pair have never worked together before, Daniels called the coach “a genius.”
  • Originally, a meeting was to be held on Monday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the NFLPA. That will no longer take place, as the meeting has been rescheduled for early August, Florio writes.

Pre-Week 1 CBA Deal No Longer Goal?

A three-day conference turned into a one-day summit this week, with the NFL and NFLPA’s latest round of CBA negotiations ending earlier today. The sides also may be moving their target date to have this process wrapped up.

While a new CBA being agreed to before Week 1 of this season seemed like an outlandish aspiration, given the contentious process that led to the 2011 lockout and the rivalry between the league and the union in the years since, that was a reported goal. It may no longer be. The NFL is not pushing for a new CBA to be hammered out before Week 1, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link).

Both sides obviously want a resolution earlier, to thus prevent a potential 2021 lockout, but neither seeks to rush into a deal, per Garafolo. The current CBA does not expire until after the 2020 season. The previous reported desire for the league to have this agreement done before the start of the 2019 campaign centered around not wanting CBA talks to overshadow the NFL’s 100th season. That may no longer be possible.

Wednesday marked the fourth formal negotiating session in this CBA discussion cycle, but the parties will reconvene July 29. John Mara, Art Rooney and Robert Kraft took part in these talks; NFLPA president Eric Winston, Richard Sherman and Russell Okung were among those on hand for the players’ side.

NFL, NFLPA End Bargaining Session Early

The NFL and NFLPA were set to meet from Wednesday through Friday, but the get-together is already over, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The plan, for now, is for the two sides to reconvene on July 29.

One source described the meetings as “productive,” though the decision to cap the scheduled three-day meeting after just one day is curious, to say the least. There’s a lot of issues to be hammered out, including the idea of an 18-game season. The union opposes the idea, even though the NFL would like to institute a 16-game limit for each individual player.

I don’t see an 18-game schedule — under any circumstance — being in the best interest of our players,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said. “If somebody wants to make an 18-game proposal, we’ll look at it. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think that it would be good for the players.”

Of course, the union will also be after a larger share of the revenue, while owners are hoping that the players – in a roundabout way – will contribute money towards stadium projects and relocations.