Sources: CBA Talks Between NFL, Union Described As "Cordial"
Talks between the NFL and NFLPA during two negotiating sessions centered around extending the current CBA have been "described as 'cordial' and 'amicable,'" according to sources cited by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. While sources on both sides "mention how early things are, and how the talks have been mostly conceptual, there is already some optimism at the possibility of extending the deal without a lockout." Though it is possible a deal "could be reached" before the upcoming season begins, negotiations would "have to ramp up considerably." Unless the "pace changes, that's not seen as feasible." Among the "key issues that have emerged is stadium credits." In addition, the DirecTV contract that expires after the season has "become somewhat of a factor" (NFL.com, 5/22). NFL Network’s Judy Battista notes getting a new deal prior to this season "seems to be a little fast ... but certainly they feel that end of the season going into next off-season there is a real chance." She said, "We’ve been talking about this between us for a few months now that the temperature of the rhetoric and the conversation between the union and the league has certainly been lowered. The relationship certainly seems to be better than it was a year ago, certainly two years ago. That has led to quite a bit of optimism” ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 5/22).
MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: THE ATHLETIC's Lindsay Jones noted the NFL’s announcement this week that it had formed a joint committee with the NFLPA to study pain management is a "major step, one a long time in coming." It has "long been thought that the drug policy would be a big part of negotiations between the league and union on the new collective bargaining agreement, and it’s promising that both sides aren’t waiting" until '20 or '21 to "collaborate beyond funding medical studies." The health and safety of current players and those "approaching retirement are too important for this issue to continue moving slowly" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/21). ESPN's Pablo Torre said the NFL "cannot solve brain trauma" or the "damage that players take on the field." However, the league "finally getting to a safer solution to the one thing they can address, which is pain," is an "indictment of so much more than this.” ESPN's Bomani Jones wondered what the NFL gained from banning marijuana at all "because it only comes up when somebody gets in trouble." Jones: "Nobody really cares otherwise. They’re fighting an enemy that in 2019 does not actually exist." Torre said softening marijuana policies "seems like a thing that the NFL will use to get something else" in CBA negotiations because "whenever the NFL gives in on anything that players want, they expect something in return" (“High Noon,” ESPN, 5/21). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes the league's "acknowledgment that marijuana might be considered is significant enough, considering how the NFL hasn’t budged to this point" (USATODAY.com, 5/22).