Posted by Jaboner at 3:50 p.m. EST / 12:50 p.m. PST from Washington D.C. On a quiet Sunday in Washington D.C., there are both feelings of optimism and measured doubt about the upcoming week in CBA negotiations. On Friday, the NFL and NFLPA, under the tutelage of federal mediator George H. Cohen, agreed to extend CBA talks for seven days. After a weekend of breaks (me and a few other loyal media and lawyers remain in D.C. for the weekend while most have gone home ), the NFL and NFLPA will once again begin addressing several sticking points.
At the heart of the discord lies the $1 to $2 billion in revenue credit that the NFL is pushing for and the NFLPA is unwilling to concede. The NFL asserts that this credit, which is not distributed out to the players in the form of salary but rather used by the NFL to pay expenses, is essential to service existing debt on the construction of new stadiums and more importantly needed to finance new stadiums in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, and Minnesota. The NFLPA is willing to discuss this credit if the owners open up their financial books. The owners so far have not done so.
Also an issue but a lesser one is the length of the regular season. The current CBA actually already allows for an 18-game schedule (so long as it not imposed unilaterally by the owners) and the owners would like the new CBA to contain the same language. Sources tell me that the NFL is willing to concede an 18-game schedule for the immediate future so long as the NFLPA agrees to a $2 billion revenue credit. The NFLPA rightly sees the 18-game schedule as a negotiating ploy.
Sources tell me that all of the progress in mediated discussions have focused on smaller issues. Both sides have agreed to a rookie pay scale, although the NFLPA wants rookie contracts to be maxed at 4 years while owners want 5. Both sides have also agreed to greater protections for player safety, including new concussion protocols. Both sides are debating the ability of the NFL to unilaterally impose sanctions against players without the NFLPA’s input. The NFLPA wants discipline to flow through the players rather than the league.
In the upcoming week, expect continued resolution of small issues. But the biggest issue, which is the revenue credit of $2 billion, will continue to remain a sticking point.
(Also expect continued bizarre contract deals by the Raiders.)