Source: NFL, Players' Union Could Agree On New CBA Within "Weeks"
A new NFL labor pact "could be settled within weeks," despite there being many messages still "to be hashed out," according to a source cited by Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. The NFL and NFLPA are "still a long way from any labor battle," as the current CBA does not expire until the end of the '20 season. But as the two sides "engage in negotiations that continued last week over two days in Chicago, it's not too early to assess where these discussions could be headed." Talk about "extending the current CBA has been rather mild, even nice" so far. As NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith began his "annual tour of team visits with players this week," he has "truncated his schedule." Typically, Smith "visits all 32 franchises from September through November," but this time, he is "scheduled to complete his work by October 10 -- which most likely is an indication of the education for players facing their first labor uncertainty beyond making a roster." With Smith "poised to set the NFLPA's tone for a second time since succeeding" late former NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw, it will be "interesting to gauge how experience potentially moves the needle" (USA TODAY, 9/3).
STILL STANDING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton writes Patriots Owner Robert Kraft's NFL influence "appears undiminished" despite recent scandals. He has "remained one of the leading figures involved in ongoing talks" between the league and the NFLPA for a new CBA, one of only a "handful of owners directly involved in negotiations." Sources said that Kraft is "one of the players' preferred counterparts at the bargaining table." Kraft also was the "driving force behind the NFL's wide-ranging partnership with Jay-Z." Kraft this offseason has "preserved his clout by mounting an aggressive fight" against his solicitation charges. By "scoring big wins in court, he maintained his public standing before it ever eroded" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/3).