There’s a new sheriff in town. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.
Per a source with knowledge of the ongoing labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has taken a much more visible and vocal role, so far. He has become a driver of the discussions, emboldened by the perception (and to a large extent reality) that Patriots owner Robert Kraft played a major role in getting the 2011 deal done, following a lockout that lasted more than four months. Jones, apparently, wants to be the one who gets the credit for getting this one hammered out.
Jones has made plenty of deals during his time in the NFL and prior to it, but he at times has a knack (in the opinion of some) for talking too much, which can lead to the ruffling of some feathers. Indeed, we’re told that Jones’ remarks regarding player health and safety during a bargaining session earlier this month sparked a spirited discussion with Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee. While Jones apparently didn’t reprise his “if I didn’t have 50 concussions during my own football career I would have been the President” shtick from several years ago, it was enough to test the feel-good vibe that has characterized the discussions to date.
Jones’ ascension also creates a bit of awkwardness regarding his 2017 assault on Commissioner Roger Goodell. But Goodell and Jones seem to have patched things up (at least enough to work together), and there’s a belief that Goodell hopes to parlay a new CBA into a new round of TV networks into a ride off into the sunset.
Although, as initially reported here several weeks ago, the league wants to get a new deal in place before the start of the NFL’s 100th season, that could be an unrealistic objective, it’s not out of the question that a deal will be done in time to be annouced in the days preceding the Super Bowl, possibly with both the CBA and TV planes landing at or about the same time.
It remains too early to know whether any potential timeline will become the actual timeline, because the deal has far too many moving parts. And the reality is that it’s far too early to know whether the direct involvement of one of the NFL’s biggest movers and shakers could make a good outcome for all parties more likely, or less likely.