It’s been several weeks since there has been any encouraging news on the NFL Lockout front. Well, today, over 100 days into the labor impasse, there was what I would consider very encouraging news. Sources close to the CBA negotiations revealed some of the specific terms and figures that the players and the owners have agreed on or are close to agreeing on.
In the next proposed agreement players will receive a 48 percent share of "all revenue," without the $1-billion-plus credit off the top that had been a point of contention in earlier negotiations, according to sources familiar with the presentation.
The players had been hoping for an even 50-50 split, but quite frankly this new arrangement would be plenty desirable for them for several reasons:
1. The players' take will never dip below 46.5 percent of all revenue. With the league’s revenue expected to increase substantially this decade, the players are still looking at a huge pot of money to divvy up amongst themselves, with the safeguard that their cut of the pie would never dip too precipitously.
2.Equally important for the players’ protection is that owners would be required to spend somewhere between 90 and 93 percent of that year’s salary cap. In the previous CBA, teams’ payroll floors were below 90 percent and were in cap figures, not cash. That allowed teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and other small-market teams to get away with spending less on player salaries than is desirable when trying to achieve a competitive balance and financial security for those players in smaller markets or on teams with owners less willing to spend.
Other terms of the proposed CBA include:
- The 18-game schedule that caused such a stir will remain open for negotiation but would no longer in any way shape or form be something the plaeyrs must agree to now or anytime down the road without their consent and approval.
- Owners meanwhile will see annual revenues increase by introducing a slate of 16 games on Thursday Night. Previously there had been 8.
- Owners will also see some financial relief by not having to pay such exorbitant rookie wages. There would be a rookie wage scale in the new CBA, though the specifics are apparently still being discussed.
- Perhaps most interesting is what would happen to free agency:
If and when an agreement is reached, all players whose contracts have expired and have four or more years of experience are expected to be unrestricted free agents, sources familiar with the talks told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Certain tags will be retained but that still is being discussed.
So, if a deal does get done, a number of restricted free agents that were offered tenders by the Steelers would suddenly be on the open market as URFAs — guys like Willie Colon, William Gay, Matt Spaeth, Dennis Dixon, and Daniel Sepulveda come to mind.
Of course there is plenty of time and ways in which the talks could breakdown, and as Roger Goodell noted, there’s still ‘much work to do’. But I feel we're close. And this deal sure looks like it would be a win-win for all, including us fans.
Get it done, gentlemen!