Collective Bargaining Agreement

NFC East Notes: Williams, Gettleman, Hill

The NFL and NFLPA will conduct a joint investigation into claims made by Washington’s LT Trent Williams, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Williams has been one of the best left tackles in football since entering the league in 2010. After solidifying the blindside in Washington for nearly a decade, Williams had been holding out for all of the 2019 season.

The team refused to move Williams before the trade deadline, but the tackle finally reported to the team on Tuesday. However, he has since failed his physical and publicly accused the team of failing to recognize the severity of a cancerous growth on his head this past summer. The team has since denied Williams’ claims of wrongdoing and called for a third-party evaluation. According to Rapoport, the collective bargaining agreement calls for a joint investigation amidst such accusations.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Giants general manager Dave Gettleman needs to answer for his trade deadline decisions, according to Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Since the second day of training camp in late July, Gettleman has not answered questions from any reporters. Even more concerning, a Giants spokesperson said he is not currently scheduled to address the media again this season, per Slater. Currently at 2-6, many were surprised to see the team give up draft assets for impending free agent Leonard Williams. Moreover, the team recouped no draft capital for any of their veteran players. Slater maintains it is “part of the job” for Gettleman to take questions from the media regardless of how popular his decisions are.
  • Cowboys rookie second-round pick Trysten Hill has become a problem, according to Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News. Per Watkins report, the defensive tackle has recently been sent home after arriving late to practice and fell asleep in the middle of a speech by Hall of Fame basketball player Isiah Thomas. Dallas has not been publicly critical of Hill, but Watkins notes that even after losing starting defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford for the season, Hill remains outside the rotation.

Latest On NFL’s CBA Talks

The NFL’s owners want 17-game seasons and they’re willing to bend on at least some issues to get them. Among those points: many owners seem willing to make the league’s marijuana policy less punitive towards players, Mark Maske of The Washington Post tweets

[RELATED: Goodell On 17-Game Season]

Many league owners are also in favor of potentially altering, or weakening, Roger Goodell‘s power structure (link). That would mean neutral arbitration for appeals of discipline imposed by the NFL for off-field misbehavior, though Goodell would retain his power for integrity-of-the-game issues.

The NFL is reportedly “very serious” about adding another game to the regular season schedule. Part of the tradeoff would involve the shortening of the preseason schedule, though it’s unclear if that means a larger portion of the pie for the league’s players.

Earlier this week, Goodell discussed the possibility of a 17-game slate with reporters and disclosed that his proposed plan would push the Super Bowl into mid-February, with the same September start time.l

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On CBA, 17-Game Season

Roger Goodell confirmed these CBA talks feature the previously reported prospect of a 17-game season. The 13th-year commissioner said a 17-game season would start at the same time the league’s current 16-game model does — after Labor Day — but end a week later, pushing the season into mid-February.

The league is making a greater effort to make this happen as well, offering the NFLPA more financially in hopes of making the 17-game schedule a reality, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. It’s not certain if that means the players will see a greater revenue split — a point of contention when the CBA talks accelerated over the summer — but Breer believes the NFL is “very serious” about a 17-game season happening.

A reduction in the NFL’s preseason slate would commence as well, and the subject of a 14-team playoff bracket has been broached. The prospect of a second bye week, a setup the league tried only in 1993, has not surfaced yet. But after 42 seasons of the 16-game slate, the NFL has perhaps the most momentum yet to add a game. Owners have largely given up on the long-rumored 18-game season, at least in these CBA talks.

The sides hope to have a deal by season’s end, with the league and the union believing a deal before 2019 ends would be the best way to avoid a 2021 work stoppage, per Mike Jones of USA Today.

The deal’s not done. I don’t have optimism; I don’t have pessimism,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, via Jones. “The reality is, we’re talking, but we’re far apart. … Either the deal is done and you could relax and not prepare for a work stoppage or the deal isn’t done and you can’t relax and you need to prepare for a work stoppage.”

Along with the pursuit of an even revenue split, the players’ side wants to increase the league-minimum salary and that of practice squad payouts, Jones adds. Negotiations are set to resume soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

CBA Talks Quietly Resume

Roger Goodell, Giants President and CEO John Mara, and Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt all traveled to Jacksonville, Florida this week for the first formal bargaining session in more than a month with the players’ union, a meeting in which both sides modified their positions on the central economic issue, though there was still no major breakthrough amidst hopes of completing a new collective bargaining agreement during the league’s 100th season, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Joining Goodell, Mara, and Hunt was NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and union president Eric Winston.

While there had been multiple staff meetings in recent weeks, this was the first time the principals had been in a room together since late August, when the sides agreed to table bargaining as Smith began his annual tour of all 32 teams. 

Owners have remained committed throughout the process in adding regular season games, focused exclusively in recent weeks on a 17-game schedule, rather than 18, without making significant economic concessions. Conversely, the players want to grow their share of revenue without adding any regular-season games to the schedule. Currently, the players are guaranteed at least 47 percent of total revenue under the existing CBA, which is set to expire after the 2020 season.

Since bargaining began months ago, representatives on both sides have described the tone of talks as more positive than the rather contentious negotiations in 2011, which ultimately included a 132-day lockout. As a show of good faith, Smith’s tour was accelerated from past years and is scheduled to end this week.

Ideally, the league would approach the networks by December about extending the NFL’s TV deals. As a result, a new CBA would prove to be extremely valuable in these negotiations and creates an unofficial timeline for the proceedings.

Officially, Roger Goodell did not put any sort of deadline on the CBA discussions. “You don’t have timelines in CBA negotiations,” Goodell told NFL Network’s Stacey Dales on Sunday morning in London ahead of the matchup between the Bears and Raiders. “We’ve had a lot of discussions over several months. They continue. We’ll see, we’ll keep working on it.”

Latest On NFL CBA Negotiations

NFL owners and player leadership are expected to resume formal bargaining talks within the next few weeks, with hopes of finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement before the league’s 100th season ends, though a lot of work remains on that front.

The NFL and NFLPA had talks towards the end of training camp which represented progress, however at that point, it was clear that an agreement would not come about before the start of the NFL regular season. 

According to sources involved in the process, there have been multiple staff meetings this month that have yielded additional progress on secondary issues, such as coming to an agreement with the referees’ union. But the standoff on the most important issue hasn’t substantively changed: owners want to add regular-season games while preserving their share of revenue, and players want to increase their share of revenue without adding regular-season games.

Originally, owners sought an 18-game season during the negotiations with the players that produced a 10-year labor deal struck in 2011, but abandoned the proposal when the NFLPA objected on player-safety grounds. It was recently confirmed that while the 18-game season was again brought up this summer, the NFLPA did not see that being a realistic option.

Since then, the NFL has shifted their bargaining focus to a 17-game season that could be implemented in conjunction with an expanded set of playoffs and a reduced preseason. The extra games, either in the regular season, the postseason, or both, would be used to boost revenue and offset the loss of revenue from a reduction of the preseason from four to three games per team.

Although there is no clear-cut deadline for agreeing to a new CBA, the league wants to come to an agreement so that it can pivot to the TV networks. The goal apparently is to launch the TV-rights talks by December. The fact that ratings have started strong in 2019 will create even greater motivation to finalize the broadcast extensions, especially since the 2020 ratings could drop during what could be a very heated presidential election. Without a labor deal in place, it would be very difficult to engage in legitimate talks regarding broadcast deals, according to MMQB’s Albert Breer.

Owners Now Seeking 17-Game Schedule

After years of this subject lingering, the NFL is no longer pushing an 18-game season. Instead, they’ve shifted focus to a 17-game proposal, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

Proposals for an outright 18-game schedule, and the convoluted idea about an 18-game slate with a 16-game cap for players, have not necessarily been shelved. But with ownership support for 18 games not as widespread as it appeared to be, and the NFLPA remained staunchly opposed to it, it’s been effectively moved to the back-burner, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (Twitter links).

Part of the 17-game proposal would be a one- or two-game reduction in the preseason schedule, per Kaplan. A three-game preseason schedule is the most likely course of action, per Maske (on Twitter).

Packers president Mark Murphy floated the 17-game idea over the summer. The concept included eight home games, eight road games and one neutral-site contest. The league has five neutral-site games scheduled this season — four in England, one in Mexico City — so ballooning that to 16 would be a notable change. It’s unclear if that component is still being discussed, but it would likely need to be in play to prevent some teams from having nine home games and others not.

Another item that remains in play: expanding the playoff field to seven teams per conference. The NFL has used six-team brackets since 1990 but has seen the league grow by four teams since that format was implemented. The NFLPA is also opposed to this idea, Kaplan adds, but Maske tweets a 14-team playoff field being thrown into the mix is a “strong” possibility. The 12-team setup has lasted longer than either the four- or five-team fields the NFL previously used since the 1970 merger.

No additional CBA talks have been scheduled; they are expected to resume later this year or at 2020’s outset. It’s a good bet the 17-game season and seven-team playoff prospects will be talking points when they resume. The current CBA expires after the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.