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“True up” still represents biggest issue between NFL and players

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As the lockout continues with no end in sight — unless the Eighth Circuit lifts it — it’s important to keep in mind the fact that, as Peter King of SI.com pointed out in today’s Monday Morning Quarterback, the two sides aren’t really all that far apart.

The crux of the dispute relates to money, especially since the non-economic terms offered by the NFL on March 11 contain many very player-favorable provisions, including a drop in offseason workouts so significant to prompt at least one high-level team source to express relief that the players didn’t accept the offer.  As to the fight over money, the formula had shifted from a procedure that takes a lump sum off the top for the owners and divides the rest.  Instead, the parties were focusing on a “pegged cap” concept, with a fixed figure for salary and benefits determined in each year of the deal.

Though the gap was $10 million per team in 2011, the league agreed to the players’ request of $161 million per team in the fourth year of the deal.  The most significant difference came from the question of whether and to what extent the players would receive a portion of the revenues earned over and above the projections on which the cap numbers are based.  The parties had been negotiating a system for sharing the money, but the NFL’s offer omitted that term.

The impact of that maneuver depends on perspective.  From the players’ point of view, the move was interpreted as a message that there would be no sharing in the excess; that if the players were to receive guaranteed salary cap numbers without regard to actual revenue generation, they were not entitle to a piece of the upside.  From the league’s point of view, the players needed only to make a response to the March 11 offer, including a suggested formula for sharing the excess.

We’re not sure what is or isn’t true about the “true up,” but we are sure that the only way to find out whether the league is telling the truth is to respond to the March 11 offer.

Progress cannot and will not be made until the players respond to the league’s most recent offer.  We assume that the players haven’t responded because they have instead chosen to see whether the Eighth Circuit lifts the lockout.

If the lockout isn’t lifted, the players’ first order of business should be to respond to the March 11 offer.  Until that happens, there’s simply no hope for football to be played in August, September, or beyond.

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43 Responses to ““True up” still represents biggest issue between NFL and players”
  1. atmedic8daily says: May 23, 2011 9:04 PM

    So far so good for the Bengals. They would be rebuilding anyways, now other teams lose any momentum from the offseason.

  2. airraid77 says: May 23, 2011 9:05 PM

    until the player return to the table and actually negotiate? give and take? they continue down the road of their own demise.

  3. jimphin says: May 23, 2011 9:14 PM

    It is painfully obvious that the players are the proverbial Deer in the headlights. They don’t know what to do and are dazzled by De Smith’s promise of rapture.

  4. eatingwings says: May 23, 2011 9:15 PM

    “The impact of that maneuver depends on perspective. From the players’ point of view, the move was interpreted as a message that there would be no sharing in the excess; that if the players were to receive guaranteed salary cap numbers without regard to actual revenue generation, they were not entitle to a piece of the upside.”
    ________________________

    So if the league does not hit their numbers for growth in a year, does the players give money back to the league? I seriously doubt it!!! So the players only it one way! If the league grows, you owes more, if the league hits it mark, you owes our guaranteed salary cap number, if the league falls behind in revenue, the players still want the guaranteed salary cap number. What happen to we want a “fair” deal. The players just want “THEIR” deal…

  5. palinforpresidentofnorthkorea says: May 23, 2011 9:16 PM

    Mike – congrats!

    You finally understand that the players* will negotiate after De Mo Reece exhausts the legal options.

    De Mo can take this four years, three years, two years, or less. What’s the over/under?

  6. commandercornpone says: May 23, 2011 9:17 PM

    duh smith is incapable of “trueing-up”.

    he talked his way out of a job. time to cut the cord, players

    the owners could always go get more players.

  7. heyguru1969 says: May 23, 2011 9:17 PM

    Baseball has its Steroid Era

    Hockey and basketball have their Over-Expansion Era

    Football will now have its Idiot Era.

    That applies to all of them, players and owners. Nobody gets a walk on this embarrassment.

  8. terminatorlikesmaids says: May 23, 2011 9:19 PM

    You have to feel sorry for the football fan that is happy when his team doesn’t play, because they are so bad. My condolences atmedic.

  9. bearskoolaid1985 says: May 23, 2011 9:20 PM

    This just proves that the players are being misguided by Dee Smith and the Kessler (The NFL hating lawer).
    Why else would they not asked for an extension on March 11th, instead they decertified and went to court.
    Shame on the players for not negotiating.

  10. possiblecabbage says: May 23, 2011 9:21 PM

    The players can choose to respond to the March 11 offer or the offer from Mediation in May. Really, either one will do. Expecting the league to continue negotiating against themselves isn’t going to work, and continuing to push things in court is just going to jeopardize the season. So just pick an offer and respond to it. Please?

  11. faderwader says: May 23, 2011 9:23 PM

    This gives Mike Brown more time to build up his stance that Carson will have to stay or retire (to increase the trade demand)…… oh and more time to count his money he doesn’t spend.

  12. nflisabouttoblowit says: May 23, 2011 9:25 PM

    Bottom line: The NFL and players are about to blow up their past, present, and future. And we’re about not to care. The NFL and the owners clearly did not act in good faith in its dealings prior to this lockout. Both the owners and players have not acted in good faith during the lockout because they have not put forth serious efforts in reaching an agreement. Egotistical blowhards such as the commissioner, owners from the Cowboys, Panthers, Giants, and the so-called leader of the players association/trade union are skillfully showing how inept and bullheaded they are. Here are a couple of suggestions: 1. Commissioner – quit holding focus groups with the fans. The only thing we want to hear from you is that this is solved. 2. Owners – quit talking except to tell us that there is an agreement. All your talk just pisses us off more each time you open you mouth. 3. Players Association – quit posturing and talk to us only when there is an agreement. Smith… right now you just suck. 4. Players – quit trying to show what great leaders you are by organizing informal workouts. Everyone knows it’s crap. Get engaged and get this solved. 5. All – unscrew yourselves and fix this.

  13. blackdb says: May 23, 2011 9:25 PM

    Tired of the players blaming the owners this is the second offer the owners have put on the table with no counter offer from the players. De Smith is in way over his head.

  14. zxcvbnmjhgfdsa says: May 23, 2011 9:40 PM

    Mr. Smith, the union* attorneys, and the players must have an end game plan, right? So what must it be?

    Taking the outline above as accurate, including … ‘negotiating a system for sharing the (true up) money,’ is this where Mr. Smith has drawn the line in the sand? Nothing less than a 50-50 split of the true up? “Remember, we’re partners here ….”

    If it’s also the case that this (true up) is where the owners are looking to fundamentally change the CBA this time around, how does Mr. Smith get down from the ledge with his honor intact? Since he’s about to lose in the 8th Cir., (which means lockout for as far as the eye can see) it’s either climb down or jump off.

  15. joey49er says: May 23, 2011 9:45 PM

    who really cares now?? i mean i like football but this is a joke!!if they play ill watch but im not going to pay to watch games now.. canceled my direct tv that i pay every year at all most 300.00 a year cancelled my game play back and wont be going to the games for now on … i used the money i saved and im taking a 1 week cruise>> screw the fans!!!! say the players.. well its my money and ill find other entertainment..
    just the thought of of more crooked unions getting my money make me sick!!!!

  16. RoofDude says: May 23, 2011 9:50 PM

    The NFLPA would be wise to strike a deal soon. It would be in their best interest to take the concessions the owners have offered. Like stated already, they have made a couple offers now, without any counters.

    Plenty believe they have made decent offers. The fact is…. if the owners win in court, which seems likely…. Do the players actually think the offer will get better at that point..?!?!

    Once the owners win in court, they have zero reason to compromise any further. The offer will go backwards at that point.

    The time to make a deal is NOW….

  17. SpartaChris says: May 23, 2011 9:56 PM

    And people wonder how some can side with the owners in all this. The fact the players never once made a counter offer is more proof the players never once intended to negotiate. Their plan all along was to litigate, and tie the league up in the courts. Had the players even made a half hearted attempt at negotiating, we’d probably have a deal by now. But nope, sham decertification and ligitation it is!

    It’s time for folks to start asking the players why football isn’t happening right now. It isn’t because the owners locked them out- It’s because the players refuse to negotiate.

  18. 44kyle says: May 23, 2011 10:03 PM

    I think that the reason Dee Smith isn’t negotiating is that he doesn’t know how and doesn’t want anyone to find that out. He’s covering his ignorance by posturing and rhetoric.

  19. harmcityhomer says: May 23, 2011 10:03 PM

    It is amusing to read all the get back to the table and negotiate posts.

    Both sides know what the other wants and would be willing to settle for by now. A deal could be reched in 5 mins if one side gives in.

    The owners could always just lift the lockout and play football until a deal is reached.

    The players may be unwilling to negotiate a new CBA that is less than the last one, but they are not unwilling to show up and work.

    The lockout is cutting off the nose to spite the face.

  20. seatown12 says: May 23, 2011 10:07 PM

    Is it really in the players best interest to negociate before the ruling? Do they even have anything to lose? The more I read, the more I see valid points on both sides. I guess after the ruling we’ll see whos really willing to burn this thing down. I dont want a crash course in law. Lets hope DEmo”s just tryin to talk big whiskey

  21. Uncle Leo says: May 23, 2011 10:09 PM

    I would bet that the amount of money spent on legal fees is more than the $ difference between the two sides

  22. bmue42 says: May 23, 2011 10:35 PM

    i cant believe a lawyer named de smith is going to topple americas favorite game, who is this guy? why is he and who put this idiot in charge?

  23. SpartaChris says: May 23, 2011 10:52 PM

    harmcityhomer says:
    May 23, 2011 10:03 PM

    The owners could always just lift the lockout and play football until a deal is reached.
    ================================
    Why should they “Just lift the lockout and play football until a deal is reached” when the lockout is their only leverage? Why not instead expect the players to negotiate in good faith, which to date they have yet to do?

  24. harmcityhomer says: May 23, 2011 11:03 PM

    The lockout is not the only source of owner leverage. They could start by just spending a billion less per year on player salary. They also would not be forced to pay the insurance and pension funds unless players have them individually negotiated into contracts.

    The lockout seems sort of taking the ball and going home because the players are doing what I tell them to do.

    Decertification was the only option left to the players other than accepting a lesser CBA. No one is forcing the owners to sign a bad CBA or have no football.

  25. kremis says: May 23, 2011 11:26 PM

    Replacement players NOW! Agreement will be reached before the next nfl player is arrested!

  26. vahawker says: May 23, 2011 11:33 PM

    Go for the TRUE UP as long as players are willing to go for the TRUE DOWN when projections aren’t reached. Players willing to give back some of the money the slave masters are forking over to them, right?

  27. chatham10 says: May 23, 2011 11:40 PM

    The owners will lose money if the CBA is not agreed upon but they will move forward and over the years recover what they lose< the players will not and some will have their football days end and they can thank Mr Smith. Mr. Smith is trying to prove a point that in the end will cost players not only money but their jobs but I'm sure he digs it.

  28. andrewfbrowne says: May 23, 2011 11:49 PM

    You know, as much as I hate him and think he has been a pain in the butt, De Smith has got the owners to put another offer on the table the day the owners won a huge victory in court, you have to give the man props for that. So far, the players have won in court and have got the owners to agree to a 161 million dollar salary cap in year four of a four year deal up from in the 120’s in 2009. The players are not paying De Smith to be popular with fans and definitely not the owners.

    I know this will get hated on, this is the type of response i usually hate on, but it is not his job to be popular.

  29. straitalk says: May 24, 2011 12:16 AM

    You call the owners banking money intended to be shared revenue with the players in anticipation of a lock out over the past 3 years negotiating in good faith? Grow up.

  30. stanjam says: May 24, 2011 12:46 AM

    If they are truly on the side of the fans (which I doubt either side is), then they should respond regardless of the court. Ultimately the suit filed could do devastating damage to the NFL, and therefore to the player’s attempts to make more money than most deities.

    They need to reply so we can get some football going. The fans are losing their patience. We have the power to hit you all in the pocket, and we just might if you don’t start growing up and negotiate in good faith.

  31. tmac48 says: May 24, 2011 1:09 AM

    Boy, I sure wish somebody would increase my salary, make a number of days at work a whole lot easier and give me 5 more weeks off and the option to remain under their healthcare benefits for the rest of my life…

  32. realfann says: May 24, 2011 1:58 AM

    A reasonable description but I think it’s fair to question how close or not the two parties are to a financial agreement.

    One thing to remember is that the players are comparing (and quite rightly ) any offer to the old CBA.

    So if the old CBA would have resulted in x dollars and the new formula is y dollars, the players will see it as x minus y dollars worse. And that could be a very large number. Hundreds of millions worse.

    The other thing is the exclusion of revenue growth above the league’s estimates.

    Their estimates have not been made public but have been acknowleged as being low. And really, really low in the year when the TV contracts will be renewed.

    Excluding revenue growth above the leagues low ball 2-3% could mean billions less to the players over the lifetime of the agreement.

    So financial close to each other? I don’t think so.

    But it is in the owners interest to have people think that they close. So we won’t be seeing an end to this particular line of PR for a while.

    After all, why would the owners continue the lockout if the sides are so close to a deal? The owners could end the lockout, sign a new agreement, fire all their lawyers and public relations staff, and make all us fans deliriously happy.

    That would make sense wouldn’t it?

    Unless they weren’t close.

  33. realfann says: May 24, 2011 2:10 AM

    Once again the majority of pro-owner comments make personal attacks against DeMaurice Smith.

    It’s always the sign of a side in the wrong when their main argument is to abuse the opposite leader.

    Yes, he’s an ugly lawyer, wears silly hats, talks old fashioned slang and WORST OF ALL, has a funny name.

    With all that evidence, he MUST be a very bad man who is putting his own personal interests above his clients. What other proof could anyone want?

  34. klunge says: May 24, 2011 2:44 AM

    The fact is that the new agreement offered by the league to the players represents roughly a 25% increase in salary over just a couple of seasons, in addition to redistribution of the wealth away from unproven rookies towards veterans, retirees, and performers.

    It seems many player supporters have no clue of the devastation the sport would suffer if the antitrust litigation stands. Theoretically they do not have to reform the Union and bargain for a CBA. Players could demand anything they want in their contracts on an individual basis. Attempts by teams to establish a cap, carry out the draft, and any roster limits & free agency rules would be considered collusion and a violation of antitrust laws.

  35. ratay1 says: May 24, 2011 7:10 AM

    Let’s not forget that the players had a “hard stop” deadline they were up against to decertify. The CBA had a decert provision in it that mandated that they decertify by 3/4 or they’d lose the right to decertify for 6 mos.

    The players felt the owners were stalling them to force them to miss that deadline and lock them out as a union & max their leverage (that lockout couldn’t be deemed ‘illegal’).

    Now, they’d agreed to extend that deadline by a week to 3/11, but couldn’t see their way to keep extending it (since decert was the only card they could play). Think this is a case of them trying to max their leverage v. doing a deal, but I don’t think it’s evidence they didn’t want to negotiate…

    “You don’t want to get closer to my demands ahead of this 3/11 deadline & seriously negotiate with me? Fine, I’ll decertify the union and we’ll see how good the deal gets in court.”

  36. tombrookshire says: May 24, 2011 7:26 AM

    Sheesh, it’s simple. Gross revenue, minus salaries and expenses equals profit. Typical of greedy billionaires to want to grab from the top then divide up the remains. Despicable behavior.

  37. skolvike says: May 24, 2011 8:04 AM

    Do these clowns still believe they are arguing over a 9 billion dollar pie?

    Really?

  38. canteatgreens says: May 24, 2011 9:32 AM

    *****************************
    realfann says:
    May 24, 2011 2:10 AM
    Once again the majority of pro-owner comments make personal attacks against DeMaurice Smith.

    It’s always the sign of a side in the wrong when their main argument is to abuse the opposite leader.

    Yes, he’s an ugly lawyer, wears silly hats, talks old fashioned slang and WORST OF ALL, has a funny name.

    With all that evidence, he MUST be a very bad man who is putting his own personal interests above his clients. What other proof could anyone want?
    **************************************

    The problem is that he isn’t representing his clients. Stone-walling is not going to work. Not looking at the financial info provided because you don’t think it’s enough is shrewd. Not responding to multiple offers from the owners is unfaithful to many of his clients.

    He’s so afraid to look bad and make a wrong move, that he won’t even try to make a step of progress in fear that he might move a half step back.

    So yes, attacking their official (but now unofficial) leader is what’s going to happen until he proves that he’s actually willing to do his job and provide his services to ALL of his clients.

  39. bigd9484 says: May 24, 2011 9:45 AM

    Now I finally see why the minority of people on here are on the players side. They want to have guaranteed salary caps, then share in the excess profit made.
    In other words, they would never agree to a system where the caps are based on total profits, and would go both up AND down depending on the league revenue. The players want none of that, they just want to be a part of the system when it’s doing well. Good for them.

  40. Southpaw says: May 24, 2011 9:51 AM

    And by “respond,” I’m assuming you mean more of a response than calling the proposition “the worst deal in the history of sports”

  41. zxcvbnmjhgfdsa says: May 24, 2011 10:32 AM

    bigd,

    As certain as Minn. will never win the Super Bowl
    (whether they stay put for another 100 yrs., or leave tomorrow), the players would accept 50% on the downside of the ‘true up’ faster than Chris Johnson.

  42. SpartaChris says: May 24, 2011 7:12 PM

    harmcityhomer says:
    May 23, 2011 11:03 PM
    The lockout is not the only source of owner leverage. They could start by just spending a billion less per year on player salary. They also would not be forced to pay the insurance and pension funds unless players have them individually negotiated into contracts.
    ==============================
    If only it were that simple.

    The formula for setting the salary floor was negotiated in the last CBA. As were the pension and insurance requirements. To simply “Pay less” or “Not pay at all” would put the owners in violation of the CBA. Terminating the agreement and locking the players out *Was* their only option.

  43. SpartaChris says: May 24, 2011 7:16 PM

    straitalk says:
    May 24, 2011 12:16 AM
    You call the owners banking money intended to be shared revenue with the players in anticipation of a lock out over the past 3 years negotiating in good faith? Grow up.
    =========================
    Not sure what money they banked, but I do consider the insurance policy deal they worked out with the networks to pay them regardless of whether football happened or not to be smart business. There’s no other way to see it. It was, pure and simple, smart business. The players are pissed because they were outsmarted, so they ran to daddy Doty.

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