The CBA in a nutshell


We have an agreement.  Finally.   So what’s in it?

We know a lot about the new collective bargaining agreement and how it will shape the NFL for the next decade.  We’ll learn even more in the coming hours as we get a chance to read the fine print.

In the meantime, PFT wanted to give folks just joining the party a broad outline of the agreement.

(And by broad outline, we mean that we’ll mostly link to all the other posts we’ve been cranking out.  What, you thought we were going re-write everything?)

Length of agreement: We’ve got ten years of labor peace on the way.  There is no opt out clause in the deal.

Revenue split: This is what it was all about.  The players were on defense the whole time, knowing that owners would get a larger share of the overall pie.

The two sides agreed on a new “all revenue” model.  It’s a little complicated, but overall the players must average at least 47 percent of all revenue for the 10-year term of the agreement.

The money was counted differently in the past, but the split was essentially closer to 50-50 before.

Drafted Rookies: A new rookie wage scale will dramatically curb spending on rookies. High first-round draft picks are taking a huge hit. No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, for instance, is expected to see less than half the guaranteed money of 2010 No. 1 pick Sam Bradford. Those top-shelf contracts will be four years, with a pricey fifth year option.

Measures to prevent rookie holdouts were also put into the deal, in part by making the rookie contracts simpler.  Players taken rounds two-through-seven aren’t overly impacted.

Undrafted rookies: They will be among the first players to sign with teams. A new signing bonus cap for undrafted players is expected to be put in place.

18-game season: The possibility of an 18-game season died a lot sooner than anyone expected. The players wanted no part of it and the issue was put off until 2013.  Owners can try to negotiate more games in 2013, but the players would have to agree to it. A stare down could ensue over the fate of the preseason.

Revenue sharing: The owners separately agreed to a new ten-year plan for revenue sharing. This negotiation didn’t directly involve the players, yet it remains as vital to the sport as anything accomplished over the last few weeks.  The plan will tax the highest-earning teams.

Salary cap: The salary cap is set for $120.375 million in 2011.  That’s actually about $6 million less than the salary cap was back in 2009, the last year the cap  was in place.  It’s important to note the cap will rise with revenues.  (Future television deals.)

2011 salary cap flexibility: Even though the salary cap was ostensibly scaled back, teams were given two avenues to make it easier to retain high priced veterans this year.  Teams can “borrow” $3 million against future salary caps to pay for veterans.  They can also use another $3.5 million in what would otherwise be performance-based pay to use for veterans.

So the cap really isn’t $120.375 million. It’s basically $126.88 if teams want it to be.  An extra $6.5 million won’t save guys that truly deserve to get cut, but it will make life easier for teams near the cap limit.

Salary floors: Players accepted a relatively low salary cap in exchange for the raising the minimum teams have to spend.  This can’t be underestimated.  99% of the salary cap must be spent in cash in aggregate between 2011-2012.  The league-wide number falls to 95% after that.  Teams must spend at least 89% of the cap from 2013-2016 and 2017-2020.

This helps ensure teams that were way under the cap in recent years like the Bengals and Bucs spend more.

Player safety: The amount of padded practices in the regular season is now heavily regulated by the league.  Two padded practices per day in training camp (two-a-days) has also been banned.  (This doesn’t sit well with all players.) Teams can do a padded practice and a non-padded practice in the same day in training camp.

Teams will also reportedly have more days off during their bye week.

Offseason work: Offseason Organized Team Activities (OTAs) have been reduced from 14 days to 10.  The offseason program was reduced five weeks overall.

Retired players: The new deal reportedly adds $1 billion in new funds for retired players.  $620 million will be used for a new “Legacy Fund,” which will be devoted to increasing pensions for pre-1993 retirees.

Tampering: There will be no need for teams to illegally contact free agents in the coming week.  Almost as soon as teams are back Tuesday, they can begin speaking to all unrestricted free agents. Check out the timeline of the next week right here .

And just in case we missed anything: Seven more odds and ends you may have missed.

28 responses to “The CBA in a nutshell

  1. My favorite part:

    “Measures to prevent rookie holdouts were also put into the deal, in part by making the rookie contracts simpler.”

  2. The padded practice thing is nonsense. If high school kids have to do it why can’t these guys?

  3. Dear lockout,

    Na na na na, Na na na na, HEY HEY HEY, GOOODBYEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  4. And it took MONTHS to negotiate this deal? Could have been done in a week without the lawyers and the phony “anti-trust” lawsuit. Hopefully this will be a lesson for the players ten years from now!

    And now, let’s get to the long awaited business of PRO FOOTBALL!!!! Lawyers out, teams in!

  5. Thanks for simplifying it, makes sense. I’m more than ready for some football!

  6. No, this is the CBA in a nutshell: “Help! I’m in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell? What kind of shell has a nut like this?”

  7. Is it just me or did the NFL [thankfully] fold on that 18 game schedule thing pretty quickly?

  8. thephantomstranger says:
    Jul 25, 2011 2:13 PM
    No, this is the CBA in a nutshell: “Help! I’m in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell? What kind of shell has a nut like this?”

    LOL. EASY AUSTIN POWERS International Man of Mystery.

  9. You should know how to block and tackle by the time you’re playing in the NFL…

  10. “$620 will be used for a new “Legacy Fund,” which will be devoted to increasing pensions for pre-1993 retirees.”

    So they are giving a whopping $620 total for all pre-1993 retirees to share? What’s that, like a nickel each?


  11. Neither side got everything they wanted, that means the CBA is essentially fair.

    Things the players won:
    salary floor (huge) , reduced OTAs , reduced training camp schedule , reduced regular season practices , lifetime health insurance (huge)

    Things the owners won:
    52% revenue split (huge) , rookie wage scale (huge) , no judicial oversight (huge) , better revenue sharing

    The no opt out is neutral. Even though the owners wanted it, it’s most likely that if anyone needs it will be the owners. The details of the revenue sharing are going to be the key to this. With such a high salary floor, small market teams might still not be able to make it depending on how the real life numbers turn out. That’s the biggest danger in this CBA.

  12. Wait. Going from 50% to 53%.

    Okay, so if league-wide revenue is expected to be 10B next year, the owners are keeping an extra 300M. Divided by 32 teams, that’s a little over 9M per team. And in gaining that 9M, you’ve knocked 5 weeks from training camps and limited padded practices and increased the salary floor?

    Remind me why they oped out of the previous CBA?

  13. You forgot to mention in 2018 the players union make invoke the rule to extend Manning, Brady & Brees careers by invoking the “” for the good of the game.

  14. It was great to listen to the owners, De Smith, Roger Goodell, and members of the NFLPA executive committee.

    There was mutual respect. Robert Kraft was quite eloquent as he apologized to the fans for the lockout.

    De Smith and Roger Goodell did a great job!

    The NFLPA and the owners worked together to come to an agreement!

  15. Just glad it ended in time for the preseason.

    I knew there was too much money to be lost for billonaire owners to sacrifice stupidly.

  16. Kwame F says:
    ghostrider- I read somewhere that 18 game schedule is up for a vote in 2013


    Ugghh. I hope not.

  17. “Remind me why they oped out of the previous CBA?”


    Small market teams were in serious danger of losing money and unable to keep up with Dallas, New England, and Washington in free agent signings.

  18. So, boil it down for us all, Mike;

    What exactly did the players gain by holding out these past four months, after walking away from the owners in March?

  19. What about length of service to become an unrestricted FA? Is it 4 or 5 years or what?

    And what about the Transition tag? Nobody was using it because of poison pills, did they get rid of the Transition tag or get rid of poison pills or what?

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