June 21, 2011
Once the owners meetings got underway in Chicago on Tuesday morning, various leaks came out quickly regarding the parameters of a new collective bargaining agreement. ESPN's Chris Mortensen was first to detail a few of the key points, and it now looks like the two sides have at least the broad strokes of a deal in place.
The new Thursday schedule, which would put 16 mid-week games in-season, would start in 2012 and would be a new source of revenue. This may be a way for the owners and player to bridge the gap between the profits the league anticipated from an 18-game season, and the fact that the players appear to see 18 games as a non-negotiable deal-breaker.
In the next agreement, it's proposed that the players would receive as much as 48 percent of total revenue, and never less than 46.5 percent. The owners have taken the $1 billion credit, which they received every year in the previous CBA, off the table, and the new agreement would seem to simplify the entire revenue concept. Months ago, the NFLPA proposed a straight 50-50 split down the middle with no qualifiers, and the owners walked out of the room. The players previously received about 53 percent of total revenue, according to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith, and the owners at one point wanted an additional $1 billion per year in cost credits.
Projected revenue from new television deals starting in 2014 is the primary reason that the players feel justified in taking a smaller percentage; they'll get a slightly decreased take of a far larger yield over time. To offset that risk, the owners will likely agree to spend anywhere from 90 to 93 percent of total cap space per season. Between increased revenue and player costs, the players could concede percentages and still walk away with far more money.
There will be a new rookie wage scale, but that was never a point of contention. Both sides agreed all along that the guarantees for high draft picks were ridiculous — they may as well name it after uber-bust JaMarcus Russell(notes), who waddled away from the NFL nearly $40 million richer than when he went in.
Now, the owners and players will travel to Boston to continue negotiations in an atmosphere of serious momentum. There are no guarantees, but after an agonizing offseason, it appears that football may very well be back on time. At this time, optimistic estimates have a deal done in the next 2-3 weeks.
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