Expanded Regular Season Remains Sticking Point In NFL Labor Talks
NFLPA leadership has scheduled an "important meeting Thursday morning with the board of player representatives to discuss the status" of CBA talks and get "input on how to proceed," according to sources cited by Rapoport & Pelissero of NFL.com. This is a "significant step after months" of bargaining sessions, as the league continues to "push for the option to expand the regular season to 17 games as part of the next TV deals." The chances of the two sides "striking a deal hinge in large part on how players respond to the idea of 17 games." The "central issue" of CBA discussions thus far has been the "revenue split, and players are expected to receive an uptick from the 47% of total revenue they are guaranteed under the current CBA, which was approved" in '11 and expires after the '21 season. The NFLPA has "long hoped to achieve that increase without adding games, but the league has pushed all along for a lever that would allow them to add games" (NFL.com, 1/26). In DC, Mark Maske cites a source as saying that the NFLPA's ruling 11-member exec committee "spoke by conference call" yesterday, but "no votes were taken" about the union's next move in labor talks. One source said that while they "hesitated to call this a make-or-break week in the negotiations, a strong show of opposition by players to a 17-game season could imperil the hopes of the union completing a deal with the league in the coming weeks" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/28).
TOUGH SELL: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio cited a source as saying that the 17-game season remains "very difficult to sell to the players." While there always is a "chance for posturing in a situation like this, the thinking is that the push for player health and safety makes it more difficult to get players to agree to another regular-season game." The league's "willingness to shrink the preseason isn't regarded as much of an inducement, since veteran players already are playing less and less in the preseason" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/27).