No Real Concern From NFL, Union About Potential Lockout Over CBA
There is "no real concern" about a lockout over the current NFL CBA, and there is actually "a lot of optimism," according to NFL Network's Judy Battista. The league and union have "been talking a lot since the fall, and there's a lot of optimism they could even get something done by this March, which is the start of the final league year under the existing deal." Meanwhile, owners have been "pushing for more regular season games," with 17 being the "focus." An extra regular-season game would mean the "likely reduction of the preseason to three games and the possible addition of another bye week for every team." The longer schedule "would probably begin in several years." In return, player contracts "could change, perhaps allowing young players to get to free agency sooner and driving more money to veteran middle-tier players who have lost out in the current deal." However, NBA-style guaranteed contracts "remain extremely unlikely, and adding a wild card team and another playoff game will almost certainly be part of the new deal." Additionally, the league's current drug policy will "almost certainly be tweaked" in the new CBA, with the NFL adjusting its "testing and penalty procedure." The "biggest issue as always" in the CBA talks has been the "revenue split." NFL revenues are "around $15 billion a year and growing," and the current CBA "provides players 47% of the revenue." The union "wants a bigger slice" ("Inside the NFL," Showtime, 1/21).