SBD/July 22, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 133: Details Of Owner-Approved CBA

The NFL owners voted Thursday night to approve an agreement that calls for players to "reduce their split of the league revenues to 47 percent (from roughly 53 percent under the previous CBA) in return for promises to double those revenues" during the life of the 10-year contract, according to Bart Hubbuch of the N.Y. POST. Under the proposed CBA, the salary cap would drop to $120.375M per team this season, down from $128M in '09, "but teams would be required to commit much more to player salaries in a given season." That commitment would see the salary floor rise from 85% to 89%. The players also would get "lifetime medical coverage, better benefits for retirees and would see their offseason workload lessened." Hubbuch notes the deal "would be a clear victory for the owners in other areas, though, particularly in getting rookie salaries under control." All draft picks "would be required to sign four-year contracts for significantly less money than in previous years, with teams getting the option for a fifth year on their first-round picks" (N.Y. POST, 7/22). NFL Exec VP/Labor & General Counsel Jeff Pash on Thursday said that there "would be no judicial oversight of this collective bargaining agreement by the federal judiciary, as there was in the last CBA, when owners were angered by several decisions by" U.S. District Court Judge David Doty. Moving forward, appeals will be made "in the more traditional ways of sports leagues -- through independent special masters" (SI.com, 7/22). Pash indicated that the NFL "plans to institute random blood testing for human growth hormone this season." Pash added that the new policy comes with "the full and required cooperation" of the NFLPA (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/22).

MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE: In L.A., Sam Farmer reports players with expired contracts "would be eligible for unrestricted free agency after four seasons, as opposed to the six required last year." In addition, the regular season "would be kept at 16 games, and several measures would be put in place to limit off-season workouts and the amount of practice in helmets and pads throughout the season" (L.A. TIMES, 7/22). The current format of 16 regular-season games and four preseason contests would remain for "at least the next three seasons," but the NFL and NFLPA can negotiate the "implementation of an 18-game slate starting with" the '14 season (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/22). Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson said, "We responded in the areas that the players were really concerned about and we call those the health issues and that was really the reason that we were willing to move off of our request for the 18-game schedule" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/21). Giants President & CEO John Mara said, "I can't say we got everything we wanted to get out of this deal and I'm sure they would probably say the same thing. Usually when that happens, it means it's a fair deal, and I firmly believe that this is a fair deal" (NEWSDAY, 7/22).

LAST MAN STANDING: FOXSPORTS.com's Nancy Gay noted Thursday's "lone abstention in the 31-0 landslide approval" of the proposed agreement came from the Raiders. While Raiders Owner Al Davis did not attend the Atlanta meetings, Raiders Chief Exec Amy Trask, acting on his authority, said that team officials "had deep concerns about certain aspects of the agreement that prevented them from voting yes." Trask: "We have profound philosophical differences on a number of issues, both of a football and an economic nature. We have been very consistent in expressing these differences to the league." Among the Raiders' concerns are "the revised free agency rules that include unrestricted free agency for players after four accrued seasons; the revised revenue-sharing plan that seemingly hands more power to big-market clubs" and the "transition rules to protect veteran players" in '11 (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/21). CSNCALIFORNIA.com's Paul Gutierrez wrote as more details "emerge from what appears to be a cloak and dagger attempt by the owners to sneak a few elements into the new CBA ... the Raiders appear to have actually taken the high road." Gutierrez: "The Raiders voting 'no' might have been seen as a more courageous move. But by merely abstaining, Davis thumbed his nose at convention. Again" (CSNCALIFORNIA.com, 7/21).

WHAT ABOUT THE LITTLE GUY? Bengals Owner Mike Brown, one of two owners to vote against the last CBA in '06, said, "I think this is a deal that understands what is needed from both sides. There were compromises made on both sides." In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy notes one reason Brown voted against the deal in '06 was because he "felt it did not address the needs of small-market teams like the Bengals." When asked if the new deal better addresses those concerns, Brown said, "It's an agreement where all sides are satisfied" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 7/22). The Bills were the other team that "voted against the last labor deal" in '06, but they also "approved the new labor system" on Thursday (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/22). SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said on a "competitive-balance issue, it's unknown how this deal will affect" small-market teams. Ganis: "They will be able to make fewer mistakes. ... With the 90 percent annual salary floor that's in place on an annual basis, teams will be signing players to longer-term deals. Making mistakes in judgment about players will hurt even more in the long run." Ganis added that about 75% of the NFL's revenue "is shared among the teams," and he "sees that number increasing in coming years, if only in small percentages" (K.C. STAR, 7/21).
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