NFLPA executive director: 2021 strike or lockout 'almost a virtual certainty'

Shutdown Corner

Every time there has been public acrimony between the NFL and NFL Players Association since the new collective-bargaining agreement was signed, we’ve figured it’s a long time before anyone needs to really worry about it. The CBA runs until 2021.

But that date is getting closer, and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith offered quite a doomsday scenario in an interview with The MMQB.

“I think that the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout is almost a virtual certainty,” Smith told The MMQB, via

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There have been plenty of childish battles between the two sides and some serious issues too, like guaranteed contracts and the power wielded by commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL has avoided losing any games to work stoppages since 1987, but Smith indicated that the players striking and missing games is possible in 2021.

“I don’t know now, but I mean let’s look at our history,” Smith told The MMQB. “The owners do a deal in 2006 and opt out in 2008. We do a deal in 2011 with no opt-outs because we like the benefits under the current deal and we didn’t want to give the owners an opportunity to opt out and take back the gains that we currently have.

“If there is no renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement and we reach 2021, there is no uncapped year, right? Because the last time we went through it, we found out the owners lied and cheated about the uncapped year. So why would I do that again?”

The NFL had an uncapped year in 2010 when the CBA was in its final year, but in a brazen act that seemed to admit league-wide collusion, the NFL actually gave out significant punishment to the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys for violating a salary cap that didn’t exist. This actually happened. So it’s not too hard to understand why Smith wouldn’t bother with that again.

Every time the NFL antagonizes the NFLPA, we’re reminded that the CBA has many years to go. That also means there’s a lot of time to make nice and come to common ground on some contentious issues. Smith’s threats might just be a negotiating ploy. In addition, it has been a long time NFL players were willing to miss game checks to strike for better conditions. We’ll see if they are more willing to do so after the NFL has taken plenty of victory laps about its perceived wins in the last CBA.

But even though 2021 doesn’t seem far off now, it’ll be here faster than you think. And it’s possible that’s when things will get really ugly for everyone who loves the NFL.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith warned that a strike or lockout in 2021 appears to a be a “virtual certainty.” (AP)
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith warned that a strike or lockout in 2021 appears to a be a “virtual certainty.” (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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