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Sunday Morning NFL Labor Update: Not Out Of The Woods Yet

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When we last left you on Friday night, the Owners had given up fighting about the 'right of first refusal', which essentially neutered players from moving teams, if their original team wanted to sign them to an identical contract. It seemed it was one of the last stumbling blocks, as players who became Free Agents just wanted to really be "free" and sign with whomever they wanted.

With this bridge crossed, the sense grew stronger that the agreement would be in place early next week. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported last night the potential schedule of events to getting this new Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed upon:

The hope is that mediation will nudge the two sides to a final agreement in time for the players to vote to recertify as a union and approve an agreement Wednesday.

Under that scenario, the owners would ratify the new CBA on Thursday at the league meetings in Atlanta. According to sources, the two sides also could use Wednesday morning to finish their mediated negotiation session, if necessary.

Albert Breer had reported that the two sides would not meet face-to-face early next week on Saturday, but mediator Judge Boylan, returning from vacation, wants to meet with them one last time to get this deal officially done, again according to Mortensen.

Some further details of the new CBA have also leaked out:

  • It will be a ten year agreement, which means we won't have to deal with this garbage again for a decade. The Players will receive between 46.5% and 48%, with some other provisions about TV contracts and new stadiums.
  • Less OTA days (from 14 down to 9), and only 3 of those 9 days can they use Helmets. Also two-a-day practices are no more, but teams can have a walkthrough in shorts if they'd like. The Colts did this several times last year, most of the time in the morning during Training Camp.

The last stumbling blocks after the jump, which Pro Football Talk calls a 'last minute power-play' by the Players:

  • The Players want $320 Million in lost benefits from the 2010 uncapped season. My guess is this will go away in eventual agreement. I believe the Players signed off on the 2010 rules when they signed the last CBA, so this seems like a lawyer grab for more money. I don't see it happening.
  • How many times can the Franchise tag be used? The Players want it for only one year, where previously they could be slapped with it three times, but with significant salary increases. I think one year sounds about right. It's understandable if you need to float a contract for a year to make a long term deal work under the cap, but three years isn't needed for that.
  • Workman's compensation: Apparently Players now just file any claim in California, and the owners want them to make any claims in their home state. No idea what the reasoning is on either side, but it's something that in reality should not bring this deal down.
  • Settlement of the Brady anti-trust lawsuit. After the last anti-trust lawsuit, led by Reggie White, all named plantiffs were given exemptions from the Franchise tag, in order to get it settled. The players in the Brady case, including Peyton Manning, it seems are looking for something similar. However, this is the quote from Mortensen (emphasis mine):
    That would result in named plaintiffs such as Drew Brees, Logan Mankins, Peyton Manning and Vincent Jackson not being subject to any free agent restrictions in 2012 if their respective teams do not sign them to long-term contracts.
    From the sounds of it, that means Manning could get the Tag in 2011, if necessary, but not before next season. I'm 100% confident a deal will be done before March of 2012 for Manning.
  • Settlement of TV deal lawsuit, where Judge Doty found the NFL in the wrong. Mortensen believes the Players will use this lawsuit to get the $320 Million in benefits talked about above.

To be honest, to have only 5 things left unresolved is a relief in itself. Here's to the two sides hammering out these last few things, and getting the free-for-all that July 25th could be started up. I'm ready for football.