It’s been reported, somewhere, that the NFL wants to have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place before the start of the 2019 regular season, the NFL’s 100th. Recently, Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed it.
“That’s certainly our intent,” Goodell said on that point during an interview with Julia Boorstin of CNBC. “Our intent is to make sure we have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, we’ve been in it for eight years. It’s worked very well, mainly for our fans but also for our players and our clubs, and so we have the structure of a system that works quite well. We’re continuing that dialogue, there are obviously changes we all want on both sides, and I think those are things that’ll improve us and try to make the Collective Bargaining [Agreement] continue to be successful for all the parties, and I hope we’ll do that.”
The fact that the league admittedly wants to get a new deal in place before the start of the season gives the NFL Players Association some leverage, as previously explained. The challenge for the NFLPA will be to play their hand without overplaying it and, in turn, blowing the chance to get more favorable terms if they can get a deal done before the season starts.
It nevertheless remains difficult to get an agreement fully negotiated and finalized by the time the Packers and Bears launch the season on September 5. Rosters remain at 90 until August 30, expanding dramatically the pool of employees who would have to vote on the CBA. Then comes a compressed window of days to sell the agreement to the newly-formed rosters before kickoff.
It’s possible for a tentative deal to be reached by September, with the formal team-by-team votes done as quickly as the circumstances warrant. Still, plenty of work needs to be done. Even if it seems that the league is happy to retain the overall structure of the deal, both sides are going to want potentially significant changes, whether it’s stadium credits (from the league’s perspective) or an adjustment to gross revenue split (from the union’s perspective).
Regardless, it’s now clear that the league wants to get something done sooner than later.