News has been swirling regarding the possible end to what has seemed to be an eternal NFL lockout. The league's owners agreed to a new CBA, yet work still remains to be done. Specifically, the collective NFL players have to first figure out what has been laid in front of them and then agree to ratify what would be a new ten-year labor contract.
Sounds easy enough – and from a fan standpoint, while it's tempting to demand immediate action, it's worth noting just what kind of deal has been presented to the players.
After all – when every league owner votes for a deal, you know something is up.
Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe gave an excellent breakdown of the proposed deal.
Of the key points, the players seem to come occasionally come out ahead…at least for the moment.
1. No 18 Game Schedule….at least until 2013.
And then both the owners and players have to agree to a change. However, even if the players can hold off the owner charge on this issue – just wait until global expansion and those 15-hour flights to London commence.
2. Unrestricted free agency after four years, restricted after three.
It appears that both the franchise and restricted designations will remain. If teams can still repeatedly place the franchise tag on the same player, then no progress has been made. I wonder how Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins feel about this.
3. Franchises get paid to invest in their own stadiums.
I don't claim to fully understand the dynamics behind this aspect of the proposal, but it appears that owners can generate more revenue by pouring money into their respective teams. On the surface, this seems like a genuine and mostly beneficial point – but then again it's not clear if this is tied into the salary cap floor. Or, what's more important to a team – better wireless service in the restrooms or a new right tackle?
1. The CBA runs through 2020 with no opt-out.
Again, if the owners really want this deal – as evidenced by their unanimous vote – the players should be wary. Throw out an escape clause and the players should be terrified. Let's hope the players know what they're getting into here. Otherwise, they should instead be negotiating subprime mortgages.
2. No more judges….at least for a while.
Actually, this is probably for the best. Until a new CBA is signed, the NFL should stay out of the courtrooms. However, after the ink is dry – all is fair in football….and litigation. Also, for comedy's sake, let's hope a few clueless, attention-starved politicians join the fray.
3. Higher Salary Cap Floor
This doesn't seem like a major revision, as compared to the last CBA. Yet, just the mere idea that the salary cap floor has been re-established means that teams like Tampa Bay and Cincinnati have to spend money on their rosters. And we all know that when the Bengals spend money, incredibly funny things happen.
1. Off-Season Practices Reduced
This is almost like a doctor treating a patient's broken leg with a gallon of ice cream. It might taste good, but the bigger problems aren't close to being resolved. In exchange for getting a still modest share of overall revenue, the owners conceded to a few less practices and the possible end of "two-a-days." And guess what? Players still can get cut from their teams at any time – for virtually any reason.
2. Health Care for Life
On paper, this was another huge concession given to the players. With all the talk regarding long-term player health issues, this possible development is nearly monumental considering the legacy that long forgotten players have paved. Of course, anyone who has had to deal with doctors, insurance companies and hospitals knows that this issue is never simple. A good question to start with is "who is covered?" and "for how long?" and then maybe "at what cost?" Or, just really think about how long "for life" really is.
3. The Revenue Split
I don't care what the projected numbers are. Until the players break the 60 percent barrier and begin climbing upward, no real progress was made. There's a reason why NFL owners are billionaires.
At this point, the owners are clearly in control and have also scored a huge public relations victory. The longer the players dissect and debate the merits of the proposal, the more the momentum goes away from them. From a fan standpoint, practically all of these issues hold no relevance – as actual on-field football is the only legitimate priority.
Of course, the players would be wise to ignore these sentiments and really figure out what kind of a deal they've been handed.
Otherwise, this process will repeat itself again.