CBA talks peaceful and cordial, for now

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The NFL and the NFL Players Association are getting along. At least for now.

Kevin Draper and Ken Belson of the New York Times take an extended look at the nascent negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Talks have begun, even though the current labor deal covers two more seasons.

The league seems to be inclined to turn the page on the 301-page document signed eight years ago in August, securing long-term labor peace before embarking on the next round of TV deals. The thinking is that the league will be in better position to maximize the sale of broadcasting rights if the league comes to the table with the fruitful efforts of a trip to the bargaining table with players.

Talks between the NFL and NFLPA thus have begun. Per the Times, a pair of bargaining sessions have had “little of the rancor evidence in the last labor dispute,” which led to a management lockout in order to secure a better deal for ownership, which had been complaining about the prior CBA from not long after the ink had dried on it.

This time around, no owner has complained publicly or privately about the CBA. And all that that implies. They’ll say that the current deal works for both sides, which could be code for, “It works really really well for us, and it’s important for them to think the same.”

Indeed, the report from the Times indicates that unnamed people involved in the discussions expect the players to receive a “modest increase” in their share of overall revenue (it must be working really well for the owners, then), and that the agreement to otherwise contain “few major changes.”

“I do hope it is sooner rather than later,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week regarding a possible CBA extension, during his press conference at the conclusion of the May ownership meeting. “I think there is great value to all parties, and most importantly our fans, that we get this issue resolved and move forward.”

That all sounds good, and it should be easy to check the boxes on many of the minor aspects of the relationship. But the reality with any high-stakes negotiation is that both sides have to agree on a deadline for getting a deal done, or neither side will move toward bottom-line positions on the major issues.

The agreed-to deadline can arise from the same motivation, and the manner in which the league and the union share revenue gives them an equal incentive to agree to something sooner than later, so that negotiations can then begin with media companies for the next round of TV deals. However, there’s a separate incentive for both sides, which the Times briefly mentions.

“The union’s leaders want to get a deal done while Eric Winston, its president, is still in office, and not risk a shift in leadership during negotiations,” Draper and Belson write. “Winston, who won his third term last year, will be president through March 2021.”

The desire to not risk a leadership shift understates the smoldering concern, for both sides, that the next NFLPA president will be adamant about pushing for more, about maximizing all available leverage in the quest to do so, about laying the foundation for a strike (even though a strike likely won’t work) by making a wide array of over-the-top demands and by generally taking an unpredictable, illogical, and irrational approach to negotiations, potentially screwing things up for everyone.

Those concerns are real, and those concerns — coupled with the desire to rake in many more billions in TV rights — could be the factors that keep these talks on course for a smooth landing before March of next year.

25 responses to “CBA talks peaceful and cordial, for now

  1. The public is on the side of the players, until they hear the word “strike”. Then they side with the owners. The owners know this. The NFLPA has yet to figure it out. You have to play nice with the owners. They hold all the power. The NFLPA isn’t fooling anybody.

  2. Calm before the storm.
    Personally, I hope the players strike or there is a lock out and it lasts for a long time. I want these millionaire owners and players to get a big dose of reality.
    I am still very bitter about the seat licensing fees the owners stuck to the fans, and I will never forget that. The greed is on both sides though, and neither side gives a damn about the fans.
    I have already cut my NFL watching down close to half of what it used to be because of all the stupid rules changes and because they’re playing games in other countries, and because of Thursday night and Monday night games, and I found out my addiction to the NFL was easier to get over than I thought it would be. I never watch the pre-game crap anymore, and I don’t miss that either.
    The final straw for me was that horrible non-call in the Rams/Saints game. I had no dog in the fight because I am neither a Saints or Rams fan. But to see a game of that importance be ruined by the officials — who should have been fired, by the way — and the NFL not even comment on it for several days, was a complete farce.
    So go ahead and fight over the billions of dollars you rake in owners and players, and have a work stoppage over it. I won’t miss you a bit — especially that phony, ridiculously over-paid Commissioner.

  3. The public is on the side of the players, until they hear the word “strike”. Then they side with the owners. The owners know this. The NFLPA has yet to figure it out. You have to play nice with the owners. They hold all the power. The NFLPA isn’t fooling anybody.

    Ya think? I generally side with the owners. Players make millions and most of them are dummies. Good for them but they don’t deserve any more than they get. 95% of them are replaceable so they should be thankful.

  4. increase practice time, and allow teams to stay in contact through the off season, getting rookies acclimated with their new teams is better for everyone!

  5. @slimglynn
    Until it is legal in every state teh NFL has games in, it is too much of a legal risk for the NFL to allow unfettered use of pot. They cannot afford to have, say, a locker room “bust” before a game in Texas. With the current seizure laws for drug possession, some overzealous prosecutor could, feasibly, make a case to “seize” the team or the stadium for the use therein, calling it a “distribution” location.

  6. This will be interesting. For everything that the players try to get, the owners will respond “ok fine… we want an 18 game schedule.”

    Players: Look at the recent studies that suggest marijuana is much safer than the Toradol you keep pushing on us. We want to use marijuana to relieve pain
    Owners: Fine. Since you’ll have less pain, we want an 18 game schedule.

    PLayers: Rodger Goodell has way too much power. We want a better system for handling suspensions and discipline
    Owners: We agree. But if you play 18 games, there will be less time to get in trouble

    Again…. it’s going to be interesting.

  7. We shall see if the union can get some leverage with their players saving money and being smarter.

    They need to be ready to cite Goodell’s corruption during the last 8 years and make sure they don’t use that card until the last minute.

  8. HurtsToReadComments says:
    May 28, 2019 at 8:55 am
    Millionaires vs Billionaires, I can’t side with either


    And we are the suckers 😉 Haplessly consuming the product and handing over our hard earned money year over year because it’s awesome.

  9. 60 man rosters, all active on game day, bring back hitting in practices (fewer concussions) and keep the schedule at 16 games.

  10. Non-guaranteed money makes the NFL GREAT. Players give it their all to stay employed and earn their paycheck as they know they can be cut if they do not.

    Perhaps the solution to keep the game great, give players security, and consider their health as much as possible is:

    1. Guarantee all deferred payments and healthcare (above any pension amounts) as a reward for the sacrifice they made playing the game;
    2. Thursday or Saturday games ONLY AFTER a bye-week and Monday games always followed by a Bye week;
    3. Use the safest equipment possible regardless of sponsorship contracts the NFL might have as there are currently scientifically-proven safer helmets on the Market.

  11. The reason the nfl always wins is easy and ironic, their real leverage lies in the fact that the players are too over-leveraged in their personal lives ergo the nflpa can never dig a trench cause the players can simply not afford to start missing game checks. The leagues brass simply chuckles at their impotent threats of lockout cause they will invariably cave when the exotic car and mansion payments start to bounce. It’s pathetic but true.

  12. I wonder if the NFLPA took any notes from the 2012 NFL Referees Association lockout. While it was a lockout, it stemmed from the Refs being unhappy and unwilling to ratify a new labor agreement without their demands being met. You may remember it resulted in the preseason and first 3 weeks of the regular season being played with substitute refs. The public/fans screamed about it and the NFL caved, resulting in the Refs getting pretty much what they were demanding to begin with. The Refs were assisted with by the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, both of whom were sympathetic to the Referees positions in the dispute.

  13. k1dicarus says: “The reason the nfl always wins is easy and ironic, their real leverage lies in the fact that the players are too over-leveraged in their personal lives”

    You know, when 1,700 players will be earning $6 billion this year, I wouldn’t consider that “losing”…

    And it’s not like the owners are paying them pennies on the dollar – the negotiated CBA pegged the players’ share at 48% of all league revenues, which is still pretty high for a workforce that you think has no leverage.

  14. Robert says: “the NFL caved, resulting in the Refs getting pretty much what they were demanding to begin with.”

    No, they didn’t. The main issue was the retirement plan – up to then it was a defined benefit plan (income based on length of service), but the league wanted to move to 401(k) plan and download the investment risk to employees and lower funding obligations. The final agreement delayed the transition to 401(K) until 2016. In the end, the NFL still got what they wanted.

  15. QB’s make too much money, let the players smoke weed, and take some power from Rodger should get it done.

    That’s on the owners. They don’t have to give them that much money. It’s also the players fault. They all say they want to help the team win and do what it takes, but then all want to be highest paid player at their position. Russell isn’t a top QB in the league, but yet he gets paid more than anybody else. If they make Wagner the top LB as well now you have like 30% or so of your cap in 2 players. The rest of the team will be garbage and average at best.

    Players need to start being like Tom, hate the Pats, but he understands if he takes a little less they can fill the team out with better players over all which helps him win. If you notice too when the any Patriot player pushes to be the highest paid player they are cut or traded. Bill knows if you can do your job he can replace anybody on a cheaper better deal that lets him fill in back up rolls with above average players.

  16. David Muehlhausen says: “If they make Wagner the top LB as well now you have like 30% or so of your cap in 2 players. The rest of the team will be garbage and average at best.”

    70% of the salary cap is still $135 MILLION. Pretty sure any decent GM can spend that wisely to build up the rest of the team.

    And as Peter King pointed out, QBs are earning the same percentage of the cap as it was 20 years ago. Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre and Troy Aikman were all in the 16.5% range as the current quarterbacks like Wilson and Rodgers. In fact, I’d say QBs are underpaid relative to the past, as they’re passing a lot more and turning the ball over less.

  17. i think this should be part of any new NFL – NFLPA CBA deal >>> when a player signs a deal, no more holdouts. when a player(s) signs a deal. honor it. no more sitting out for pay raises. as a fan i’m sick of seeing guys that think $14.5m isn’t enough to play for. they wanna sit out a year because they want more money. under the current NFL NFLPA CBA if a player is franchise tagged they aren’t not eligible to become free agents and sign with another team. so why is there anything to sign when they are franchise tagged? just pay them end the dumb formality of signing the paper! add that too. how about just getting rid of the franchise tag altogether, i myself don’t even like it. so NFL executive who might or might not be reading this comment : MAKE IT NFL LAW THAT IF A PLAYER SIGNS A DEAL THEY HAVE TO HONOR THAT DEAL UNTIL ITS OVER. NO HOLDOUTS FOR HIGHER PAY. NO SITTING OUT A YEAR. SIT OUT A YEAR WHEN MONEY IS ON THE TABLE MEANS A PLAYER DOESNT PLAY THE SEASON AFTER THE ONE THEY SIT OUT. NO MORE SITTING OUT A YEAR, NO MORE HOLDING OUT A YEAR. DON’T LIKE THE DEAL, DON’T SIGN IT BECAUSE IF A PLAYER DOES THRY WILL NOW HAVE TO BE 💯 % FULLY COMMITTED TO THE DEAL THEY SIGNED OR BE SUSPENDED THE SAME AMOUNT OF GAMES THEY HELD OUT OR SAT OUT WITHOUT PAY!!!!!!!

  18. if players want to use eatables make it so, however invent a test to tell wether they smoked it, if found that they smoked it suspend them for conduct unbecoming of a professional athlete [ smoking anything causes lung cancer it’s a proven fact ] not only that smoking athletes are not the athletes you draft for speed , smokers become useless props – damaged goods – bad investment for an NFL owner is what a smoker is. eat it rub it on your skin however no smoking it whatsoever don’t like it say bye bye to a career in the NFL 😘💯😊

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