NFL, Union Still At Odds In Negotiations For '20 Season
The NFL and NFLPA "continue to negotiate terms for a return to work, and players are requesting financial backing in case they decide to sit out the season," according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. A source said that among the requests in the players' recent proposal to the league are "an opt-out clause for at-risk players to receive (but not bonuses) if they decide not to play," and an opt-out clause for players with "at-risk families to earn an accrued season and benefits if they decide not to play." Sources noted additional requests include "an opt-out clause for players who leave the team after reporting (terms uncertain)," and a $250,000 "stipend guaranteed to all players if they show up to camp and everything is shut down because of COVID-19 concerns." That amount "rises to $500,000 if the season starts, only to be shut down." ESPN's Dan Graziano said that players "also want no salary in escrow for 2020 and no reduction in the 2021 salary cap, despite projected revenue loss, which they'd prefer to spread over multiple years." The league's "initial ask to place 35% of this year's salaries in escrow is considered a nonstarter." Several issues "remain unresolved." Players want "testing every day and no preseason games," while the league wants "testing less frequently (such as every other day) and two preseason games" (ESPN.com, 7/14).
TENSIONS ARE HIGH: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton wrote since March, the league and players union "have been locked in negotiations," and now the discord between the two sides has "spilled into the open, laying bare a fundamental tension between the league and its players over safety versus football -- an issue that has tested the sport for years but is amplified as they confront a pandemic." The sides need to both "stymie the virus's transmission among players and try to prevent an increase in injuries amid fears they could surge after the pandemic-induced layoff, which kept players out of team facilities since last season." The two sides have "agreed on some of the easier adjustments." But the two sides are "still butting heads on bigger, more substantive overhauls" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14). NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said with only two weeks before camp, there are still "so many issues remaining, including some of the nightmare scenarios that absolutely nobody wants, but still the NFL owners and NFLPA have to figure out.” Rapoport asked, “What if the season gets pushed back? What if games are canceled due to an outbreak (and) teams simply cannot show up to a game because they do not have enough players? What if the season is stopped in the middle? What happens to the guaranteed salaries? Still a lot of issues to discuss” (“NFL Now,” NFL Network, 7/14).