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Batterman lays out league’s options for March 4

Roger Goodell

Veteran labor lawyer Bob Batterman, who is working for the NFL in connection with the current labor negotiations, appeared on today’s PFT Live and discussed various topics relating to the ongoing labor dispute.

The main question that we, and many of you, have is simple.  What will happen on March 4, when the current labor agreement ends?

Though Batterman won’t tell (and we didn’t ask) the league’s strategy when the clock literally strikes 12, he laid out the league’s options.

First, the league can impose a lockout.

Second, the league can declare an impasse in the talks and impose its last offer as the new rules for 2011.  (We explained last night that the league could indeed be planning to declare an impasse as of March 4.)

Third, the league can do nothing, continuing to operate under the terms of the current deal.  This last option would mean that, come 12:01 a.m. ET on March 4, teams could begin to sign unrestricted free agents from other teams.  If, for example, the Eagles don’t apply the franchise tag to Mike Vick, the Redskins could sign him before the imposition of a lockout.

But once that reality came into focus, Batterman made it clear that the league won’t be pursuing option three.  “Why would we allow that?” Batterman said.  “That’s what the union wants.  Why would the league allow that?”

So the options are to impose a lockout or to declare an impasse.  Which means that, absent an impasse in bargaining, there will be a lockout.

Though there’s still a chance that the league will declare that an impasse exists, there arguably hasn’t been enough bargaining to reach the point where the two sides decide that they are simply looking at each other and wasting their mutual time.

Either way, this will all come to a head sooner rather than later.  At midnight on March 4, the league will either padlock the gates or the league will throw the doors open and say, “We’re getting nowhere in these talks.  So we’ll let you work under the terms of the last offer that you just rejected.”

Then the players will have to decide whether to strike and to continue to work.  Either way, they’d surely launch a legal challenge to the question of whether an impasse truly exists.

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16 Responses to “Batterman lays out league’s options for March 4”
  1. FinFan68 says: Jan 19, 2011 2:19 PM

    What are the options for the union? Seems to me, barring an agreement, the union will decertify prior to the deadline in order to prevent a lockout, or allow the lockout to happen and place their members at risk. I think the end game will be known just before Mar 4.

  2. cappa662 says: Jan 19, 2011 2:20 PM

    Actually that was a good interview.

  3. scytherius says: Jan 19, 2011 2:25 PM

    Leave it to a handful of billionaires screwing up something else we love.

    I wasn’t the first time, but I am hands down, 100% on the player’s side this time.

  4. darthvader89 says: Jan 19, 2011 2:33 PM

    You guys at PFT should get on the Chuck Pagano press conference, he just said his two years as secondary coach in Oakland was a “two year sentence”

  5. hail2tharedskins says: Jan 19, 2011 2:35 PM

    QUESTION…

    Can the union decertify after a lockout? Or does the union have to decertify before a lockout is imposed?

    Please no guesses, I would like a response from someone who actually knows the answer. Thanks in advance!

  6. wte1 says: Jan 19, 2011 2:47 PM

    When does the Lingerie Football League start?

  7. rpiotr01 says: Jan 19, 2011 2:55 PM

    You Maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!

    — NFL fans, September 2011

  8. waccoforflacco says: Jan 19, 2011 3:00 PM

    I KNOW the answer to the QUESTION. The union will decertify EXACTLY at midnight…so they will decertify neither before or after the lockout.

    Fell better now Mr. Deadskin?

  9. bringbacktheflex says: Jan 19, 2011 3:33 PM

    Lock ‘em out. I’m tired of hearing about a bunch of millionaire prima donnas, and I’m tired of what the NFL is doing to a great game.

    Stop over-paying for poor performance.
    Stop changing the rules to allow average QBs to look great.
    Stop diluting the talent by adding teams.
    Stop devaluating the HoF by putting 5 first-timers in every year.
    Stop allowing a union to ruin the game.
    Stop wild-card owners (Jones, Snyder, Davis) from destroying the integrity and enjoyment of the game.
    Stop allowing WRs to even speak. (OK, that one is just my personal gripe)
    Stop allowing convicted felons from playing this great game.

  10. johnsreyes says: Jan 19, 2011 3:45 PM

    “Why would we allow that?” Batterman said. “That’s what the union wants. Why would the league allow that?”

    What is Batterman trying to say here? Are the owners not interested in what the union wants? He makes the owners sound like bratty children. We’re not going to give them what they want, we want what we want and that’s that.

  11. richc111 says: Jan 19, 2011 4:33 PM

    You know what sucks about all of this. The fans ultimately pay for everything on both sides! When the bills for the lawyers come just pass it right onto the fans.

  12. furkmyster says: Jan 19, 2011 4:46 PM

    Lockout means the union will decertify and this will head to the courts. Who knows how long that will take to resolve.

    Impasse means strike, but will also head to the courts, who knows how long it will take to resolve.

    Owners doing nothing makes no sense. Why did they vote to end the deal early then.

    So three more real football games and then the CFL is the only pro league left for 2011. Go Bombers!

  13. erikw65 says: Jan 19, 2011 5:43 PM

    HailRedskins, “decertification would prevent the league from locking out the players by converting the NFLPA from a legally-recognized union into a collection of individual, non-union workers. Some think that the NFL would challenge the maneuver as a sham, but such an approach would entail P.R. risks, since the NFL would be using the legal process in order to force a lockout on the players.”

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/01/12/ten-things-to-know-about-the-labor-situation/

  14. randymossblewit says: Jan 19, 2011 6:20 PM

    Any small business owner would agree with the owners here. Without meaningful changes in the current deal teams will go into the red. Most of the owners were super rich before they bought there teams so its not like they are doing it to make more money. They are trying to preserve the game over the long term. Does anybody really think that Bob kraft draws anywhere close to the 18 mil salary he’s paying brady?

  15. Dean Keaton says: Jan 19, 2011 7:30 PM

    The other obvious option (that I would give 70% odds) is that the league and union will negotiate to extend the March 4 date to have the league year start late. That is, if both sides really view March 4 as the “deadline” or even a significant date in this process, there is no way they will have a deal by then, and they will both agree to extend the deadline.

  16. anthonyfromstatenisland says: Jan 21, 2011 6:50 AM

    But what about the draft?

    According to some at least, the draft is technically “illegal,” but the union consents to “look the other way” and lets it go on. With no union to “look the other way” if it decertifies, so these observers claim, the draft cannot be conducted, and an individual player(s) could seek a court injunction preventing it.

    One thing’s for certain: If the owners do declare a lockout on March 4, the fronts will harden on both sides, making any agreement exponentially more difficult to reach – and that could mean the owners resorting to the use of scabs come the fall, else the entire season will be canceled if no agreement is reached by approximately November 1, after which even a nine-game regular season like the one in 1982 is no longer feasible.

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