My Take On Some Of the Issues Holding Up the New CBA:

Steve O Speak

There are still a few issues holding up the Players side of the new CBA and I wanted to give my take on these issues:

1. The minimum team expenditure is only 89% of the cap:

This allows some teams (cough Buffalo, Tampa, Cincinnati…among others) to just spend at the minimum level, which means the players aren’t getting all the money that they could get (not should but could). I understand this is an issue, but the Players also have to realize that their attempt at a legal case, is why this lockout is so protracted. Had they stayed at the negotiating table this might have been over in April. Tens of millions of dollars have been lost b/c of that battle (to say nothing of the legal fees), and with the Hall of Fame game now canceled and week one of the Preseason in jeopardy, it is hard to complain that teams aren’t spending enough when you are costing them millions of dollars. Maybe you can get them to add a couple % points over the next few years, but the best thing is to get back to work and get the Sponsorship dollars rolling back in.

2. Workout Bonuses being paid if the player reports on time:

Since the offseason workout program has been non-existent, it is impossible for some players to earn their bonuses. The players want a one time fix to this where a player just needs to show up and practice to earn his bonus. Overall I’m okay with this, again this battle was far too protracted, but since the owners initiated the lockout, they shouldn’t have to duck these bonuses.

3. An escalator to push rookie salaries to the lowest possible restricted tender offer in year 4:

I don’t think this is a horrible concession by the league, as it wouldn’t be a huge salary increase for the teams. If the league got their stronger holdout measures and the escalator is reasonable, so that not just everyone is eligible for it then I don’t see an issue here.

4. The amount that players are guaranteed in the 2nd and 3rd year after a catastrophic injury:

I’m unclear if the players want a total of $3 million guaranteed or $3 million for each year.  While the Owners are proposing $1.5 combined for the two years. If the Players are just looking for $3 million total than I’d say call it $2.5 (slight win for the players in splinting the difference). Now if the players want $6 that could be an issue. This shouldn’t be that much of an issue and I’m sure it will be resolved soon.

5. The Players want an Option to Opt out (supposedly after 7 years):

I don’t enjoy the idea of another labor battle in 7 years, but I understand where the players are coming from, since it gives them some protection. I don’t think much in the way of compensation will need to be changed in the next 10 years, but structure of things (roster size, number of draft rounds, OTA’s etc.) could necessitate a negotiation on those points. At the same time though the league is going to be looking to finalize mega TV deals in the next year or two (which is a huge benefit to the players as well) and those are going to be a harder sell if they have to worry about another potential labor battle. I’d look to forego an opt out, but if you need one push it back to year 8.

6. Repayment of benefits:

The players are claiming that the league didn’t maximize their TV revenue, due to this lockout and that the Players are due some compensation. While some of that could be true, I think it is a tough sell when you are costing the teams and league millions of dollars in merchandise,, ticket, and other preseason revenues (local Radio/TV rights, sponsorship rights etc.). I know both sides are responsible, but the court case took about 4 months to decide what was already known, and that is that the NFL did have the right to collectively bargain their franchise, and have crazy things like the draft and salary cap, that have turned the league into the nation’s most profitable sports league. I think the Players are going to have to eat this, and should based on their reckless behavior this offseason.

7. Settlement of the Anti-Trust lawsuit must be separate:

Not sure how I feel about this as I need more details, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense. The Players lost, and for months we heard how this lawsuit was for all the players, but now apparently the ‘Solidarity Movement’ has fallen by the wayside.

8. Players can be Franchised only once in their career:

I understand it can cause some issues to be franchised year after year, but I’d change this to players cannot be Franchised in successive seasons. This way Drew Brees can still be Franchised by the Saints, despite the Chargers putting the tag on him a couple years ago. And Manning can get the tag again. But what it does mean is that if Manning plays out this season under the tag, then he is a UFA next year (or more likely the Colts hand him 50% of the franchise since his leverage is off the charts).

9. Creation of a short term injured reserve and 47 man active roster on game days:

I think both make a lot of sense and hope both get created. A short term IR is good because a lot of times a player is out for maybe 3-4 weeks, but not the full season. So you either play down a man, or put a player on IR. Now you could call someone up from your Practice Squad or sign a street FA to give him a month long look. There would need to be some restrictions in place to ensure teams don’t abuse it (i.e. stash guys on IR, just so they can sign a guy off another team’s practice squad to learn the playbook). Also adding an extra game day roster space is beneficial for depth.

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