NFL Players Association

No Vote On CBA Would Stifle 2020 Spending

While there are legitimate reasons for the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to reject the NFL’s proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in pursuit of a better deal, a no vote would severely dampen this offseason’s free agency spending, according to a report by Mike Florio of ProFootball Talk.

Sources tell Florio that the NFLPA estimates rejecting the deal would stunt offseason spending roughly $600MM-$700MM. Since an affirmative vote on the CBA would result in an increase in the player’s portion of revenues, thus causing a relatively large spike in the salary cap over the coming years. While it would not have any immediate effects, teams would be more willing to spend now with the knowledge they would get cap relief soon.

It is worth noting, however, that the union itself seems invested in the deal’s approval since NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith has come out in favor of the deal. Thus, the NFLPA may be releasing news and notes in an attempt to sway undecided players before they vote on March 12th.

 

Meeting Between NFLPA & League Underway

A meeting between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) representatives and owners has begun in Indianapolis, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post. The owners recently approved a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which would add a seventh team to the playoffs in each conference and a seventeenth game to the regular season in exchange for a 1.5 percent increase in the player’s share of revenues. It remains uncertain whether the team reps will hold a vote on the proposal tonight, per Mike Jones of USA Today.

Normally negotiations only take place between ownership and the NFLPA’s executive committee. However, the executive committee was unable to come to a consensus on the owner’s proposal, reportedly voting 6-5 against recommending the proposal to team reps. Since the executive committee was so split on the owner’s proposal, team reps decided to hold a meeting of their own with ownership before making any voting decisions.

While public perception seemed to view the ownership proposal as an unfair deal for players, it appears owners made many strategic concessions directly aimed to appeal to the “middle-class” of players who are unlikely to receive a large free-agent contract and instead will make most of their earnings through rookie deals and minimum contracts. The proposal includes expanding rosters from 53 to 55 players, raising minimum salaries, and increasing the performance bonus pool, all of which would help players on the lower end of the pay scale.

With that said, expanding the regular season to seventeen games comes with obvious risks for players (and would severely limit their leverage in future negotiations). Furthermore, the proposed CBA limits game checks in the new game to $250,000, which would mean players with annual salaries greater than $4MM would not receive their normal pay.

49ers team representative (and cornerback) Richard Sherman has been very outspoken in opposition to an expanded schedule and is expected to be one of many team representatives to pushback against any schedule expansion.

NFLPA and MLBPA Form Partnership

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have come to an agreement with RedBird Capital Partners to form a company called OneTeam Partners LLC to manage the portrayals of players, according to Miriam Gottfried, Andrew Beaton, and Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Both unions have long negotiated the sales of players’ likeness and image to gaming, trading card, poster, and other companies independently. It appears both believe they could benefit from teaming up and investing in other opportunities with the proceeds. RedBird Capital paid $125 MM for roughly a 40% share in the company, per the report, the unions annually make roughly $120 MM from standard licensing agreements.

Players will still receive their standard annual payouts from the deals, but RedBird will use the funds to invest in other opportunities. The NFL and MLB unions are not the only ones looking at turning licensing revenue into grander investments. The WNBA, MLS, and U.S. Women’s Soccer team will all be investing in the fund and are in talks to potentially join OneTeam as well, per the report.

As revenues have exploded, especially in the three major sports leagues, teams and leagues have begun to use their revenues to diversify their investments beyond the field. It now seems players are interested in trying to do the same.

NFLPA Supports Kelechi Osemele

The Jets and Kelechi Osemele disagree on the best treatment for his injured shoulder. Osemele plans to have surgery to repair it while Jets team doctors feel that it’s an unnecessary procedure and the franchise has fined the offensive lineman for conduct detrimental to the team as a result of the disagreement. Now, the NFL Players Association has weighed in (via Twitter).

“Our union supports every player’s right to a second medical opinion, workers’ compensation and the best medical care,” the statement reads. “It is not appropriate or ethical for employers in any line of work to dictate the medical care and treatment of any employee. We are considering all options to protect Kelechi Osemele, as we would for any of our members.”

Jets coach Adam Gates has refused to comment on the situation. “I haven’t been involved in this. My job is coaching the team,” Gase said (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). Per Cimini, Osemele hasn’t spoken to Gase in “weeks” but the guard has no beef with the coach.

Extra Points: NFLPA, Supplemental Draft, Browner

NFL Players Association president Eric Winston is hoping to avoid a work stoppage in 2021. However, the free agent offensive tackle understands that the players need to be prepared for anything.

“I certainly hope not,” Winston answered when asked about the possibility of a work stoppage (via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter). “But I can’t tell those guys not to be ready for it.”

Winston also cited the NFL’s tactics during the 2011 negotiations, and he said the NFLPA will be ready this time around.nfl

“We’ve got to be able to stand our ground and to educate guys and communicate to guys [in advance],” Winston said.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com believes the Browns are in prime position to land a cornerback during tomorrow’s supplemental draft. While all of the NFL teams were present for cornerback Sam Beal‘s Pro Day at Western Michigan, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey was one of the few top executives to attend the workout. Furthermore, the team has recently put an emphasis on acquiring defensive backs. They added T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell via free agency, they traded for Damarious Randall, and they drafted rookie Denzel Ward with the fourth-overall pick. While the team does have plenty of depth, Cabot believes Dorsey won’t hesitate to take Beal.
  • Meanwhile, one pundit believes the Browns could end up using a fourth-rounder on the cornerback. “Cleveland can bid a fourth because they’re a team that’s kind of up and coming,” NFLdraftscout.com’s Rob Rang told Cabot. “They’ve already invested a lot in defensive backs, but you can never have too many good corners. I just don’t know that this is someone you can count on to produce immediately. With all of the veterans they brought in, and with them drafting Denzel Ward, I don’t know that Cleveland has to take him.” If this ends up being the case, the Browns would have to sacrifice a fourth-rounder during next year’s draft.

Extra Points: NFLPA, Siemian, Verrett, 49ers

One of the 14 members of the NFLPA’s selection committee responsible for re-electing executive director DeMaurice Smith, Dolphins long snapper John Denney said the No. 1 issue among his constituents — as the team’s union rep — is guaranteed money. The contracts annually doled out to NBA and MLB talents, in leagues with fewer players, include far more guarantees than NFLers’ deals. That issue eclipsed personal conduct complaints, Denney said (via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald).

You can’t have it all, so what’s at the top of the list?” Denney said, via Beasley, in an apparent defense of Smith’s handling of the 2011 CBA — one that granted Roger Goodell with the controversial disciplinary powers he holds. “It really does boil down to money. It does affect some guys, but it’s a very few amount of guys. The union has to make decisions for all of the current players. You’ve got 1,500, 1,600 players. How many of those players are dealing with off the field issues? You’re going to tell these 1,600 players, ‘Are you willing to give us this money so eight or nine players a year won’t have to deal with the things they’re dealing with? You still want to go to bat for your guys, but you’ve got to make decisions on what’s best for the group.”

Here’s the latest from around the league going into this season’s Sunday of action.

  • Conversely, SI.com’s Robert Klemko argues the NFL’s product has suffered because of the Smith-negotiated CBA. Early-season football — particularly line play — has been scrutinized for years, and a lack of practice time when compared to past generations is an obvious culprit. The players received a key concession in that department, but aesthetically, the game hasn’t improved. Additionally, the revamped rookie wage scale — while opening the door to more extension and free agency opportunities for veterans — has also led to teams carrying more young, and thus lesser-prepared, talent. Klemko notes the middle-class contract has become endangered, with Smith overcorrecting for the previous era of exorbitant rookie deals. The result has allowed teams to stockpile rookie contracts, saving money but also lowering the quality-of-play floor.
  • IR remains a possibility for 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (on Twitter) he received a shorter return timetable than expected. The starting defensive end will be out between four and six weeks with a high ankle sprain, with Rapoport adding the 49ers may elect to keep him on the active roster rather than shuttle him to IR. An IR trip would shelve Carradine for eight weeks.
  • Trevor Siemian has picked up plenty of Peyton Manning‘s work-ethic habits, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reveals in an expansive story. Citing Siemian’s early-morning facility arrival, Jhabvala writes the Broncos current starting quarterback’s taken to many of his predecessor’s revered preparation methods. The second-year starter also underwent left shoulder surgery after playing on a separated clavicle for three months last season, per Jhabvala. Siemian is tied for the NFL lead with six touchdown passes going into Week 3.
  • Jason Verrett‘s latest injury elevates the Chargers‘ near-future cornerback need, Eric Williams of ESPN.com writes. While a Pro Bowl talent, Verrett — placed on IR today due to a forthcoming knee surgery — has been unable to stay on the field. At the conclusion of this season, the 2014 first-round pick will have played in only 25 of 64 possible games. He’s under contract for next season, via the fifth-year option, and Williams doesn’t expect GM Tom Telesco to use the same strategy he did with D.J. Fluker (cutting him before the option became guaranteed). But Williams notes Verrett’s lack of dependability will make it difficult to sign the 2014 first-round pick to an extension. For now, 2016 UDFA Trevor Williams will start alongside Casey Hayward.

Cyrus Mehri Plans To Contest DeMaurice Smith’s NFLPA Re-Election

The NFLPA decided to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith, amending the union’s constitution from holding another election. Smith attained the job in 2009 and won elections in 2012 and 2015. This week’s unanimous vote — one featuring Richard Sherman, Adam Vinatieri, Dolphins long snapper John Denney and free agent center Ryan Wendell as four of the 14 voters — put the kibosh on Cyrus Mehri‘s hopes of challenging Smith in a 2018 election.

The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reports Mehri wrote a letter to NFLPA president Eric Winston and the executive committee Thursday indicating he still intends to press the league’s 32 player reps for a formal spring election.

Basically, I’m going to tell player reps, ‘Look, you were robbed of this ability to control your own destiny. You’re only going to get good things from competition. You can have a competition if you stand up and say you want it,’” Mehri said, via Volin. “The players that I talked to loved the ideas that I had. If we can organize the player reps to call for an election, it will happen.”

The co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that brought the Rooney Rule to the league, the 56-year-old Mehri told Volin the NFLPA didn’t post the new constitution on its website until August. Upon informing Winston at an August dinner about his plans to challenge Smith for the post, the would-be challenger didn’t come away pleased with the response.

Winston said Mehri “didn’t do his homework” about the changes, instead making his pursuit like a public campaign. The NFLPA, per Volin, did not want another “free-for-all” like what occurred in 2015, when Smith fended off eight others vying for the executive director job. This led to the 14-member vote this week.

At the end of the dinner Eric mentioned to me, ‘Well, they changed the process,’” Mehri told Volin. “They wanted to create the false impression that the election was in the spring. Meanwhile, they were just going to quietly have his contract renewed by some insiders.”

Mehri has already approached player reps about his crusade. Winston said earlier this week having full-on elections every three years would not be a good look for the union. Mehri appears to disagree.

I started talking to player reps, and a couple of things happened — they uniformly are in favor of competition, uniformly they feel I’m a legitimate candidate, and uniformly none of them remember signing off on changing the constitution,” Mehri said. “Which they must have done, but must have done in such a trickery way that they didn’t know what they were signing on to.

So I think there’s a scandal buried in this thing, because normally a constitutional change would be in neon lights, very vivid and open.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Winston On NFLPA Extending DeMaurice Smith

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith received a unanimous vote of confidence in being extended earlier this week. Smith’s term will run through at least 2021 and possibly longer. That year looms as a critical year for the NFLPA since the current CBA expires after the 2020 season.

NFLPA president Eric Winston discussed the decision to keep Smith in his current post, rather than open that position up to an outside challenger in March.

Is that the way Apple does it?” the recently released tackle said of the prospect of a full-scale election process (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Does Apple open up for their CEO spot? Does Tim Cook have to run against someone every three years? Does the Commissioner run against someone? Is that how the NFL does business? I think that’s silly.

I think there’s a time and a place for elections, but again, this isn’t a public office. And that’s sort of what we had three years ago, and guys overwhelmingly rejected that thought. … So I kind of reject the notion that there needs to be a street fight every three years or every four or five years to decide if we have the right guy. I don’t think that necessarily healthy for the union and I don’t think frankly that’s how good companies are run.”

Smith has served in this post since March 2009 and led the way toward hammering out the current CBA on which the league’s operating. He will now have a chance to negotiate the next one and has already proclaimed the ensuing agreement won’t be completed without a “significant” work stoppage.

Cyrus Mehri emerged as a top potential challenger to Smith, but the 14 members of the selection committee did not end up allowing him to make a legitimate push.

You’d have to ask them,” Winston said of the committee’s decision. “I mean obviously I know he ran as if this was a public campaign and frankly maybe he thought it was for whatever reason, but he didn’t do the homework and understand what the process was and how the process has changed. But obviously he didn’t move the needle with guys and frankly a lot of the things he said we’re going forward with already, so there wasn’t a lot of new criticism and what he said was a lot of what people said three years ago and that was kind of similarly rejected as well three years ago.”

As for if Smith had any role in manipulating the process to make sure it was harder to replace him? Winston shot that down quickly.

I think it’s a slap in the face when you start talking about that because … I can tell you De Smith has nothing to do with the resolution process,” Winston said. “He’s in the back, he offers his opinion when he’s asked and that’s it. The board, the executive committee, and the guys run the resolution process.

This was run through resolution so we had a committee, again we studied it all year and then guys decided what process was best for them. We ended up talking about this for an hour during meetings. Going back and forth, ‘OK, should it be unanimous? Should it not be unanimous? Should it be a two-thirds vote here?’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest on DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA

It sounds like DeMaurice Smith‘s future status as the NFL Players Association’s executive director may be more secure than initially thought. With the standard voting expected in March, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that the NFLPA is has revamped the election process, which would seemingly make it easier for the incumbent to retain their position.

DeMaurice Smith (vertical)By mid-October, a 14-member selection committee will vote on whether they should extend Smith’s contract. If the vote is unanimous, Smith will keep his job. If seven-to-13 of these members approve this move, then the vote will be moved to the board of player representatives (which includes members of every NFL team). If 21 (“two-thirds” of the grouping, technically) of these players approve, then Smith maintains his job.

An election for the executive director spot will only happen if six or fewer members of the selection committee commit, or if less than 21 player representatives don’t approve the move. In this situation, the selection committee would then choose several candidates to (presumably) run against Smith.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes, this decision will prevent the “umpteen-candidate clusterfudge” election that occurred in 2015. Furthermore, with the NFLPA preparing for a CBA negotiation (and an impending extension for commissioner Roger Goodell), retaining the executive director “could be the right message to send to management.”

Of course, some believe Smith instituted this rule to help himself keep his job. This includes lawyer Cyrus Mehri, who was prepared to run for the executive director gig.

“De Smith has given the vast majority of NFL players and the public at large the false impression that the election is in March of 2018,” Mehri said. “Meanwhile, he devised a scheme with a virtually secret and unobtainable constitution to prevent any election at all.

“We will not let him get away with this. Players deserve choices. We are going to fight every day to advance player voices and choices. To be the [executive director] of the NFLPA is a privilege that should be earned every three years in broad daylight. The stakes are too high to deprive NFL players of an opportunity to evaluate the candidates after a full debate.”

Smith was a unanimous choice for the role back in 2009, earning the job over Troy VincentTrace Armstrong, and David Cornwell. The 53-year-old predictably had a major role when the NFLPA negotiated a CBA with the owners back in 2011. However, despite his apparent positive influence, Mehri doesn’t believe that Smith’s new election rule is reflective of the NFLPA.

“It is ironic in a league where players have to compete every single day that De Smith is afraid of competition,” Mehri said. “NFL players deserve better.”

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Is The NFLPA Still Preparing For A Lockout?

We learned back in May that the NFLPA’s board of representatives had approved a plan that would set aside millions of dollars into a “work-stoppage fund,” allowing the players to make some money if an NFL season is cancelled or delayed. Now, it sounds like the Players Association wants the athletes to start saving up their own personal money as they prepare for a potential lockout in 2021.

George Atallah“We wound up in a situation where unfortunately [savings] didn’t happen across the league as much as it could have happened,” spokesman George Atallah recently said on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com).

“In 2009, we were faced with a major sort of signal that the owners were going to try and lock players out. We were trying to get as many players prepared as possible. . . We need players of every generation to really help the young guys understand what it takes to go through some labor strife. For the players who went through it in 2011, the union administration and player leadership did everything it could to prepare players across the league. I think it needs to happen again with the same sort of fervor.”

This game plan is easier said than done. Florio notes that a solid portion of the potentially impacted players are currently in college or high school. Therefore, it might be especially unrealistic to expect these kids to be financially conservative after they finally sign their first NFL contract.

Alternatively, Florio suggests that the NFLPA could find a clever way for players to make money during a potential lockout, thus providing them with some leverage as they’re negotiating with the league. There were talks in 2011 of unaffiliated exhibition games, and the writer believes the players should start the process of determining these specifics now (as opposed to down the road).

The union already has more than $314 million in net assets, and that doesn’t account for the $90MM they’re expecting from that previously-mentioned “work-stoppage fund.” 2016 royalty money will still be handed out to players this fall, with the “equal share” starting to see an impact for the 2017 campaign

The NFL has reportedly approached the NFLPA regarding a renegotiation multiple times, but to no avail. “Stadium credits” will surely be atop the list of sticking points, along with how money is allocated via the lucrative television deal. Offseason practice rules and Roger Goodell‘s “authority over discipline” will also presumably be discussed.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.