The New England Patriots are the latest team to direct a message to season-ticket holders regarding the current NFL lockout.
One paragraph in the letter hints that the offer extended by the NFL on Friday contained room to move on the part of the players.
“Last week, the league and the owners presented the players’ union with a comprehensive proposal that we believe was fair and benefited both parties,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft wrote. “We hoped it would serve as a basis to continue negotiating in good faith toward a final agreement. This proposal gave the players many benefits and off-season scheduling changes that they had been seeking. It also offered a 14% increase in compensation, representing a total of $19-20 billion over the next four seasons. Unfortunately, the players’ union walked away from mediation and the ongoing negotiations last Friday, without responding to this proposal. Rather than working collaboratively, they chose to initiate litigation against the clubs.”
When the Krafts say, “We hoped it would serve as a basis to continue negotiating in good faith toward a final agreement,” that phrase reasonable can be interpreted as an indication that the league’s offer wasn’t a bottom-line position, and that the owners had more room to move.
Though the owners could now claim that Friday’s offer evaporated when it wasn’t accepted, the reality is that once the settlement genie escapes the bottle, he doesn’t go back in absent a dramatic change in leverage. Thus, it’s fair to assume that, if the players would counter the offer, further negotiations would occur.
So will they? Adam Schefter’s NFLPA source says there’s “no chance” further talks will occur. NFLPA* spokesman George Atallah said Monday that “any negotiations are up to class counsel.” If Schefter’s source is class counsel, here’s hoping that class counsel has the full support of his clients before insisting on pushing forward to an April 6 hearing that may or may not go the players’ way.