Collective Bargaining Agreement

DeMaurice Smith Expects 2021 Work Stoppage

The NFL hasn’t seen a work stoppage since a three-plus-month offseason lockout in 2011, but it appears more labor strife is on the horizon. The collective bargaining agreement the owners and players negotiated six years ago expires at the conclusion of the 2020 season, after which a strike or a lockout is “almost a virtual certainty,” NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith told Albert Breer of The MMQB this week (video link).

DeMaurice Smith (vertical)

While Smith is unsure if another stoppage will lead to missed games (it didn’t last time), there are obvious cracks in the relationship between the owners and players that could force a drawn-out battle. For example, Smith stated there won’t be another uncapped year before the current CBA expires because the owners “lied and cheated” about the previous one in 2010. He added that there was collusion on the owners’ side when they unanimously voted in 2008 to opt out of the prior CBA in 2011.

“All of the mutual benefits that were supposed to happen as a result of the opt-out didn’t happen last time,” said Smith. “Owners colluded with each other. We found out they colluded with each other. All of the bad things that went to the players happened and all of the bad things that went to the owners didn’t happen.We have a new deal where if it doesn’t get fixed, you head into a certain small ‘A’ armageddon.” 

When serious discussions do commence on a new CBA, it’s fair to speculate that more financial security for the players and a less austere disciplinary system could factor into talks. The players have made it known on multiple occasions, particularly in light of recent contracts given out to NBAers, that they aren’t content with the non-guaranteed deals in the NFL. There has also been unhappiness toward the way the league has doled out punishment to players during commissioner Roger Goodell’s time at the helm. In fact, the NFLPA is currently in a public fight with the league over Cowboys superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game ban stemming from domestic violence allegations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Kap, Wilfork, Titans, CBA

Speaking Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the notion that NFL owners are blackballing free agent quarterback and political activist Colin Kaepernick, noting (via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez) that teams “all want to get better. And if they see an opportunity to get better as a football team, they’re going to do it. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make their football team better. So, those are football decisions. They’re made all the time. I believe that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, is going to improve that team, they’re going to do it.” While one wouldn’t expect Goodell to publicly throw owners under the bus, Kaepernick is likely, at minimum, an NFL-caliber backup. Yet, after throwing 16 touchdowns against four interceptions and finishing second among QBs in rushing yards in 2016 (468, with a 6.8 YPC), the longtime 49er hasn’t garnered much interest this offseason.

Elsewhere around the sport…

  • As was the case a month ago, free agent nose tackle Vince Wilfork is unsure whether he’ll attempt to continue his career in 2017 or retire. “Mentally, I’m where I’ve been all this while, I’m 50-50,” Wilfork told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. Wilfork added that he’s not going to rush into a decision, and he shot down the idea that his retirement talk is a ploy to avoid training camp and the preseason. “Camp now is like ‘Camp Cupcake.’ You’re only in pads for 10 days,” he said. “I mean, it’s so different now, so anybody that thinks I’m missing because I want to miss training camp or preseason, man, that is baloney.” Wilfork, a 13-year veteran who spent his first 11 seasons in New England and the previous two in Houston, is coming off the 12th straight campaign in which he started in all of his appearances. The 35-year-old took part in 15 of the Texans’ regular-season games in 2016 and picked up 21 tackles.
  • Bears wide receiver Kendall Wright swiped at his previous employer, the Titans, earlier this week, implying to Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly that they’ll rue letting him go. On why Tennessee reduced his playing time last season, including making him a Week 17 healthy scratch, Wright said: “That’s a question I can’t [answer]. Ask them. They’’ll feel it after this year.” The onetime 94-catch man (2013) hauled in a career-worst 29 receptions in 2016, but Wright believes he “probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year.” After, in Wright’s words, only “playing like 10 plays a game” last season, the sixth-year man is now part of a Chicago receiving corps that includes two other notable veteran newcomers in Victor Cruz and Markus Wheaton, 2016 breakout Cameron Meredith and injury-challenged 2015 first-rounder Kevin White.
  • Talks on a new collective bargaining agreement haven’t begun because the players have yet to give NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith permission to negotiate with the league, reports Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That’s not ideal for the league because it prevents it from hammering out new television and media deals, suggests Cole. The current CBA runs through 2020.

NFLPA Not Looking To Extend Current CBA

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement isn’t set to expire until 2020, but reports from October indicated that the league’s owners were hoping to extend the deal. Well, USA Today’s Tom Pelissero passes along quotes (via Twitter) from Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association DeMaurice Smith, who says the current CBA will not be extended.

DeMaurice Smith (vertical)“There’s not gonna be an extension of the CBA,” Smith said in late January (via Mark Maske of The Washington Post). “I don’t know what [Roger Goodell is] thinking when he says extension. But there’s not gonna be an extension of the CBA. If the owners are interested in talking about issues that are currently covered by the CBA or issues that aren’t currently covered by the CBA and they want to have a renegotiation on some of those issues, we’ll have a renegotiation of those issues. But there’s not going to be a 2025 [or] 2027 addendum to the CBA that says, ‘We’re good with this.’

“I don’t think that’s what he meant when he said extension. But I don’t spend a whole heck of a lot of time trying to unpack what other people are thinking when they say stuff.”

 

 

Of course, Smith acknowledged that the current deal could be renegotiated as the two sides work out some differences regarding the current CBA. Television revenue and stadium credits are among the “issues” that the two sides continue to chat about, according to Pelissero (via Twitter). Jason Cole of Bleacher Reports adds (via Twitter) that the player’s union is also planning on taking a look at the “use of marijuana in pain management.” ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes that one course of action could allow NFL players to receive a “therapeutic use exemption” when it comes to marijuana.

When the owners were pushing for an extension in October, they were concerned with funding for potential stadiums in Las Vegas and San Diego. While the Raiders are still eyeing a potential move to Sin City, the Chargers have already announced that they’ll be moving to Los Angeles in 2017.

Yahoo’s Charles Robinson writes that the players aren’t inclined to extend or renegotiate the CBA because of the rapidly growing cap. While the cap was only $123MM in 2013, it’s expected to grow to $165MM this offseason, a more than $1.34 billion increase when you account for the entire league. Robinson notes that we’re still not close to any labor issues, but the fact that the NFL is already to looking for changes (while the union is looking to stay put) is certainly telling.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Spending By Team Over Last Four Seasons

The NFLPA has released the official data on team spending over the last four seasons. The Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that each team must utilize 89% of the salary cap over two four-year periods, 2013-16 and 2017-20. As previously reported, the Raiders are the only team that has yet to satisfy that requirement for the closing period. The CBA also requires the league, as a whole, to spend 95% of the cap, in cash, for the same period. That requirement has been easily met.

Here is the full rundown of every team’s spending in declining order:

Philadelphia Eagles – $613,928,134
Denver Broncos – $587,712,791
Seattle Seahawks – $584,305,975
Green Bay Packers – $583,138,740
Miami Dolphins – $577,975,260
Kansas City Chiefs – $575,541,332
Buffalo Bills – $573,647,850
Chicago Bears – $568,301,610
Cincinnati Bengals – $567,289,411
Baltimore Ravens – $562,425,698
San Diego Chargers – $562,232,116
Indianapolis Colts – $556,335,689
Atlanta Falcons – $550,614,572
New York Giants – $543,787,033
Arizona Cardinals – $543,327,538
Los Angeles Rams – $541,957,711
New Orleans Saints – $539,836,498
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $539,736,102
Minnesota Vikings – $539,162,454
New York Jets – $533,151,519
Washington Redskins – $532,545,662
Pittsburgh Steelers – $530,698,171
Detroit Lions – $530,210,549
Tennessee Titans – $524,505,256
Dallas Cowboys – $523,033,036
Houston Texans – $517,212,166
Jacksonville Jaguars – $516,908,734
Cleveland Browns – $516,158,864
San Francisco 49ers – $514,488,198
New England Patriots – $500,083,836
Carolina Panthers – $495,149,346
Oakland Raiders – $491,433,408

NFL Owners Pushing For CBA Extension

The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until 2020, but the league’s owners are already seeking an extension. They have approached the NFL Players Association about lengthening the deal several times in recent months, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. While nothing has come of those attempts yet, the owners plan to initiate discussions again soon.

Raiders Las Vegas (featured)

Potential stadiums in Las Vegas and San Diego are among the reasons the league is pushing for a CBA extension, per Graziano, who writes that the owners want to secure funding for new facilities in those cities.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported in late September that the league wanted the Raiders to avoid moving to Las Vegas, but owner Mark Davis’ relocation dreams have continued inching closer to reality since. In the latest development, the Nevada Assembly signed off Friday on $750MM in contributions from the state toward a proposed $1.9 billion stadium for the Raiders.

The Chargers, meanwhile, will have to decide by Jan. 15 whether to head to Los Angeles, though a new stadium in San Diego would keep that from happening. There hasn’t been much progress in San Diego, and La Canfora reported last month that the Chargers appear likely to join the Rams in LA.

Based on Graziano’s report, NFL owners are seemingly on board with Vegas, whose stadium project would include $500MM in funding from Davis. Nearly half of that ($200MM) would come from an NFL loan. One problem for the league is that it has already exhausted the stadium credits in the current CBA, which the owners and players agreed to in July 2011 after a four-month lockout. Now, in order for an extension to happen, the players might require the owners to make “significant concessions,” according to Graziano. It’s unclear which issues would lead the players back to the negotiating table early, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.