NFLPA, League Make Progress On CBA, But Plenty Still Unsettled
The NFLPA has issued a memo to its members regarding CBA discussions, saying that it has "reached tentative agreements with the league and owners on some issues, including 'significant modifications' to the league's drug and disciplinary policies," according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. However, some "differences still must be resolved for the CBA to be completed." The memo, sent by NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, said that the prospective agreement "could include a 17-game season, a reduced preseason and an expanded playoff field as proposed by the NFL." Sources said that one aspect of the deal "involves an arrangement by which the players would receive" approximately 48% of league revenue under the salary cap system. Maske notes that is the "central economic issue of the bargaining and if it is resolved, it is widely believed that the rest of the deal could fall into place quickly." The union's memo added that there "already are agreements in place on changes to the drug and player disciplinary policies," though it "did not specify the modifications." Sources said that there is "likely to be a less punitive approach in the league's marijuana policy." Players have also sought to "reduce NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's authority in player discipline." Sources said that the NFL and its owners have been "receptive to reducing Goodell's authority in matters involving the personal conduct policy but not in cases involving integrity-of-the-game issues" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/17).
STILL PLENTY TO DISCUSS: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted there are a number of issues that "currently prevent a deal from being done," including "minimum cash spending requirements for each club and league-wide." Other issues include the "continuation of, and ultimately an increase in, the NFLPA Legacy Fund," a greater increase for individual minimum salaries and removing the "escrow requirement/funding rule as a barrier to guaranteed contracts." However, the union and the league "have made progress" on provisions that "would increase the guaranteed revenue coming to players." Talks also have advanced on "increases in minimum salaries, performance-based pay, injury protections and practice squad benefits" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/16).
WAIVER WIRE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton notes the NFLPA's memo called a "proposed liability waiver" one of the "biggest outstanding issues" in the CBA negotiations. This proposal by the league comes after "waivers became an explosive quagmire for the NFL, when the league's proposed workout" with Colin Kaepernick "fell apart at the last second because of his concerns over a liability waiver the league wanted him to sign." A source said that the league "sees the issue simply as an expansion of an existing provision in the current CBA in which players agree not to bring types of legal action if they take advantage of certain benefits." The source added that newly proposed language "expands that provision in the context of new benefits." Beaton notes although players "typically sign waivers before workouts, there is no provision" in the current deal that "mandates one league-wide for all players" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/17).
HOPE FOR SHORT TIMELINE: ESPN.com's Dan Graziano cited sources as saying that a new deal "could be completed quickly" if the sides can agree on the "top-line economic issue of the players' share of revenue, but there has been little movement on that front since October." The sources added that the "expectation is that the new deal will be for 10 years," much like the current one. There "remains some hope that a deal could be reached" before Super Bowl LIV or the start of the '20 league year, but "more face-to-face owner/player negotiating sessions are necessary to make that happen, and none are scheduled" (ESPN.com, 1/16).