The NFL and NFL Players Association have made progress toward a new labor deal. But they’re not yet at the point where NFLPA leadership can recommend the ratification of a proposal.
In an email sent to all players on Thursday, a copy of which PFT has obtained, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith summarizes the areas in which a tentative agreement has been reached, and the “major issues” that remain.
Topics that currently prevent a deal from being done include: (1) the maximum percentage of revenue that players could receive each year in salaries and benefits; (2) minimum cash spending requirements for each club and league-wide; (3) the continuation of, and ultimately an increase in, the NFLPA Legacy Fund, which in 2011 increased pensions for pre-1993 players through contributions of active players and NFL ownership; (4) greater increases for individual minimum salaries; (5) removing the escrow requirement/funding rule as a barrier to guaranteed contracts; (6) rules for players drafted in the first round and for restricted free agents; and (7) a liability waiver proposed by the NFL for on-field injuries. (A source with knowledge of the situation described the liability waiver as a “non-starter.”)
The negotiations have focused on a model that would include a 17-game regular season, a reduced preseason, and possibly an expanded postseason. The two sides have made progress as to: (1) provisions the would increase the guaranteed revenue coming to players; (2) increases in minimum salaries, performance-based pay, injury protections and practice squad benefits; (4) improvements to the players’ offseason, especially reduction of contact during training camps; (5) decreases in fines for on-field violations; (6) significant increases in benefits; and (6) significant modifications to the drug and disciplinary policies.
PFT reported over the weekend that a deal is there to be done, with the share of the revenue between the league and the players the primary sticking point. Once a deal on economics is reached, the rest of the agreement would likely fall together quickly. As one source explained it at the time, if the contract were premised on a 16-game regular season, a deal already would be done.
With Chargers left tackle Russell Okung intending to run for the position of NFLPA president, both sides may want to treat the March election as a real deadline for getting a deal done. If Okung wins, there’s a chance that the negotiations could change, significantly.