Those representing the owners and the players are scheduled to meet Monday and Tuesday in hopes of having a 10-year CBA agreement in place that will allow owners to vote on the proposal when they meet Thursday in Atlanta. There are still a couple major hurdles that will need to be resolved. Among them is the court case headed up by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, as well as current Viking Brian Robison and soon-to-be Vikings free agent Ben Leber.
The lockout was triggered when the players union dissolved. In order to file the antitrust lawsuit currently being heard in a Minneapolis courtroom, the players had to take away their union classification (becoming a trade association) to make an antitrust claim. It was that court case that started the legal ball rolling in cases that have been heard in Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Louis and prompted the recent flurry of executive meetings in the U.S Tour that has seen stops in cities throughout the country. For the owners to agree to a new deal, especially one that will last for the next 10 years, that court case has to go away.
The players association claim of lost benefits due to the uncapped season of 2010 also takes on larger importance. The number that has surfaced is $320 million in alleged lost benefits.
Another issue the players are pushing is that a team can only franchise a player one time in his career. That one may actually turn out to be a bone of contention. Teams hesitate to use the franchise tag because, under typical circumstances, it alienates the player given the tag. However, it doesn't happen that often to top-end players … at least not more than once. Either they get a deal done or they don't slap the tag on him again because the guarantee of a 25 percent increase in a franchise salary is typically too big a cap hit for teams to absorb.
Both of the aforementioned issues are viewed as hurdles to a settlement. However, like dropping the idea of an 18-game schedule and the one-time right-of-first refusal trifecta originally proposed, issues have been resolved one after another in recent weeks.
It looks like the NFL and players have advanced to the 1-yard line on the negotiations and a new CBA can be delivered. There are still hurdles in the way, but the worst is in the rear-view and, from all appearances, if both sides meet halfway on a couple of issues, it's a done deal and we can get back to football.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.