NFL Players Association leadership is meeting on Monday with a group of agents. One of the topics that likely won’t be discussed much is the status of talks with the NFL over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
NFLPA president Eric Winston told PFT by phone on Monday that there have still been no talks with the league about extending the 10-year deal signed nearly six years ago. He described the situation as the two sides “talking about talks” with “nothing substantive.”
“We’re still trying to figure out how and when that’s going to happen,” Winston said.
One of the real impediments continues to be the future of the NFL’s broadcasting deals. With so much of the NFLPA’s revenue tied to deals that end two seasons after the CBA expires, certainty as to that revenue stream is needed before a new labor deal can be done. As a result, Winston reiterated something that NFLPA spokesman George Atallah recently told PFT Live: The union will be (not may be but will be) talking directly to the networks about how the TV landscape will change come 2023.
“It’s a chicken and the egg thing,” Winston said regarding the reality that the union ideally would prefer to have new TV deals in place before doing a new labor deal, and that the networks would like to have a new labor deal in place before doing new TV deals.
For now, the union will be working with agents to help them avoid the presence of objectionable language in player contracts, and to gather information about how players are handling their money, which has definitely gone up under the current CBA. For as much criticism as there was in the early years of the current contract, annual spikes since 2013 have quieted the chatter regarding the notion that the union was hosed at the bargaining table.
“Criticism comes in the form of unnamed sources,” Winston said. “We can only deal with what people want to put their name behind.”
The Monday meeting gives the invited agents a chance to do that, with the understanding that no CBA will ever be perfect, and that there always will be give and take.
At some point, it will become a question of how much the NFL will give, and how much it will try to take. Between now and then, the effort (as Winston put it) to “find as many synergies as possible” between the group that represents all players and the people who represent the players individually could ensure that union leadership and the agents are on the same page when the time comes to band together and get the best possible agreement from the league.