Report: NFL has given NFLPA a “rough deadline” of March 18 to accept pending proposal

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The NFL and NFL Players Association have negotiated an acceptable labor deal. The NFLPA now must officially accept it, or reject it. And the clock is ticking.

According to Dan Graziano of, the league has given the union a “rough deadline” of March 18 for accepting the current proposal, premised on a 17-game regular season. If the offer isn’t accepted, talks will be tabled indefinitely.

The message is clear: The league is taking the position that the deal isn’t getting any better, so don’t come back and ask for more. Take it or leave it. And if you leave it, a lockout may happen in 2021. The lockout likely will last until the players accept a 17-game arrangement while on the brink of missing game checks.

So if the players will eventually take the best offer on the table before losing any real money, why not take the best offer that’s on the table now? That’s the question that the NFLPA needs to address when the Executive Committee and the board of player representatives meet today in, per multiple reports, Los Angeles.

It’s a simple flow chart. If the players do not want 17 games and are willing to endure a lockout that extends into the 2021 regular season, reject the offer. If the players eventually will take a 17-game deal before missing games, take the deal now so that the league can execute new TV deals before the presidential election takes a chunk out of the 2020 ratings and a potential recession puts a crimp in budgets.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m. ET: NFLPA spokesman George Atallah and Steelers rep Ramon Foster have disputed Graziano’s report of a March 18 “rough deadline.”

UPDATE 7:10 p.m. ET: Prior versions of this item indicated that the report came from Adam Schefter of, who had tweeted a link to the story. The byline on the story belongs to Dan Graziano, who has since revised the story to remove the term “rough outline” and to say that “both sides would prefer to have a deal in place soon so that changes in the CBA structure could go into effect at the start of the new league year on March 18.” (The original language currently can still be seen by Googling “rough deadline ESPN.”)

34 responses to “Report: NFL has given NFLPA a “rough deadline” of March 18 to accept pending proposal

  1. Don’t want a 17 game season. And I don’t know any fans that do. How do some teams get 8 home games and some get 9? (unless you’re the Jaguars). And the stats will be all messed up. Just seems like owner greed to me.

  2. –How do some teams get 8 home games and some get 9?–

    There would be one ‘neutral site’ game for every team…

    And BTW, I don’t want 17 games either.

  3. Average NFL career is roughly 50 games and the majority of NFL players are making less than 2 million a year. Why would any of those guys put a single game check on the line to ensure that Odell Beckham Jr makes 25 million a year on his next contract instead of 20?

  4. I’d rather see the jump to an 18 game season but…

    16 games is enough.

    Figure out how to make the bye weeks fair, so they occur in a shorter time frame, maybe add a second bye.

  5. Very few fans, myself included, want a 17-game schedule. The NFL is betting that we’ll watch anyway. They’re probably right. Unless fans band together to boycott a week in which all teams play. Call it “The Fans’ Bye Week”. We can actually interact with our family and friends that day. Now we just need a media outlet to help us promote it. . . .

  6. If there is another lockout I’ll be done with the NFL. This game has become so about the money it’s just taking over the sport. What’s with the salary cap? Get rid of it. Owners should be able to pay players whatever they think is fair. Hedge funds go in and buy companies, borrow against it’s assets, give the money to the shareholders and then declare bankruptcy and nobody bats an eye. Just make it so that an owner cannot spend non football revenue to sign players and there you go. Let him take it out of his own football teams profits.

  7. Don’t want a 17 game season. And I don’t know any fans that do. How do some teams get 8 home games and some get 9? (unless you’re the Jaguars). And the stats will be all messed up. Just seems like owner greed to me.
    They won’t have uneven home games. Each team would have 8 home games, 8 away, and one at a neutral sight.

  8. The NFL players have proven themselves to be awful negotiators going back decades. Compare to MLB for example. No reason to think that they won’t get played again. Oh and 17 is clearly just a step on the way to 18. With the NFL owners, more is never enough. And they get what they want.

  9. “Seems like negotiating with Darth Vader.”

    Minus the cool force powers and awesome voice. Nobody is afraid of Roger Goodell. (Though the thought of him being your father would be quite frightening.)

  10. thetooloftools says:
    February 6, 2020 at 10:05 am
    If there is another lockout I’ll be done with the NFL. This game has become so about the money it’s just taking over the sport. What’s with the salary cap? Get rid of it
    In baseball… the top 10 teams in payroll have 95% chance of making the playoffs. Also in baseball… ghost ship franchises and fan bases like the Padres, Orioles, Marlins, etc…

    Why give such a massive competitive advantage to the teams in the largest markets?

  11. Almost noone wants a 17 game season except the greedy billionaires. It will ruin the symmetry of the season. I’ve been on the verge of losing all interest in the NFL for the last 2-3 years, and have gone from watching every possible game to often only parts of the Pats games. I’ve got too much else to do in life and going to 17 games will be the final nail in the NFL coffin for me

  12. 16 games is enough! Stop trying to portray that you are all in on player safety…but still NEED to add ONE MORE GAME to the schedule! Why…simply to get more money into the pockets of the owners!!!

  13. If the owners thought they could make it work they would ask for a 52 week season. No player wants a 17 game season and all the talk about player safety from the owners is bunk.

  14. Bengals owner mike brown would love another payday.

    Then… he could give more home games away
    to foreign countries for guaranteed subsidized revenue
    while nickel and dime-ing by signing cheap, less talented players
    (since… it’s always Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton’s fault).

  15. If the NFL is thinking the pubic will support their side in forcing a lockout because they are shoving a 17-game schedule down the players (and fans) collective throats, they are sadly mistaken. If my season ticket prices go up as a result of one more regular season game (even with the reduced pre-season games), I won’t be happy, nor will my fellow season ticket holders.

  16. It all about the greed of the owners. They don’t care about the players. For owners it’s about maximizing profits. As if any team wasn’t making money a huge profit already. No owner is in the soup line, and no owner is homeless. These owners need to figure what is important in life. It’s not all about profit. 16 games is enough!

  17. History indicates that the league and the owners have far more to lose by taking a hard line adversarial and non-negotiable position. Both individually and by association, the players need to recall how the Seahawks responded to the hard deadline imposed by Russell Wilson. The franchise had far more to lose than did Wilson.

    I grow weary of watching substandard NFL competition due to large numbers of injury. There are more injuries than there is replacement talent. Even at 16 games, the roster size needs to increase, to accomodate better development of roster depth and more rotation of players to increase longevity throughout the 16 game season.

    The present 16 game / 17 week season is very well balanced. The best 17th game would come from additional playoff games — which motivate stronger competition from the players, that then generates higher television ratings and ultimately more revenue to the league and owners.

    In short, this demonstrates an antiquated robber baron negotiating tactic for what appears to be short term profits at the expense of long term success and player health — which is actually the league’s most valuable resource. Every time there is a lockout or strike, it takes half a decade for the league to recover.

    Major League Baseball learned its lesson. But apparently, NFL leadership and franchise ownership suffer from CTE brain trauma, and have forgotton the repeated lessons of the past.

  18. If the NFL Owners want more revenue I’d rather see an extra team(s) get added to the playoffs.
    You could add one extra team per conference (7 teams instead of 6) and only allow the top seated team in the conference to get a bye. Or, add two teams per conference (8 total) and do with the bye weeks altogether. Since the NFL teams share the TV revenue, wouldn’t this benefit each owner and generate a little more excitement among fans?


    I care about player safety, but I assume they will:
    – increase roster sizes and game day active players
    – Add another bye during the season
    – shorten preseason/training camp
    – hopefully move toward a quicker OT

    It’s only one more game, so they go a little later into February. If they give everyone a neutral site game that could be interesting as well.

  20. Major League Baseball and the NBA already suffer from too many games in a season. 19 NFL games (and in some years, 20, if a Wild Card team makes it to the Super Bowl) is enough.

    If the NFL decides to over-saturate the market with too many games, the ratings will have the inverse effect and decline, leaving less money in the owner’s pockets.

    Hey Owners: Don’t devalue your product. 16 regular season games is enough.

  21. Cut the pre-season to two games. Make week 17 an elimination game played only by the bottom two potential playoff teams to fill the 6th seed in each conference. Award distance points to all field goals and to make one’s less than 40 yards at 2pts, up to 55 yards, 3 points; and then anything over 55 should be 4pts. Attempting over 60 yards and making it should come with 4 pts and you get the ball back on offense. That would make the onside kick useless. And make the 2pt post touchdown play also a requirement to get the ball back without having to kickoff. Making that play should not allow the defense to get the ball back – they failed to stop the offense. Should be no reward for incompetence.

  22. A lockout hurts the NFL and the owners, in addition to the players. In a lockout:

    Players lose game checks
    Teams lose ticket proceeds
    The NFL and Teams lose the TV advertising revenue

    Everyone loses is a lockout and the NFL knows it. They are applying pressure now to scare the NFLPA into accepting the 17-game season.

    The NFLPA should tell the NFL to put it where the sun don’t shine.

  23. Including pre-season and worst case path to the SB as a wild card thats 25 games.

    We know greed won’t let them do it but if the league wants 17 regular season games they need to balance player health and safety by cancelling pre-season. They can use that time for practice and scrimmages..Thousands of high schools and 100 or so D-1 schools take this approach every year. What’s the big deal.

  24. THE PLAYERS MUST WALK!! They have the power they just have to recognize what they have, and they have to stop thinking about the bling, and be willing to think about their long term financial stability. Sacrifice now for a prosperous tomorrow don’t let D. Smith railroad you into another bad deal

  25. –If I’m the Players, I would say and stand pat on ……. No more Thursday night games–

    Until you see how many billions the Thursday night game package went for, of which the players are getting about half that pie. You can’t cut that game AND keep the money too.

    Same reason they want the 17th game. Adding another bye week brings in an additional week of TV, but having a neutral site game for every team brings in many potential high profile neutral sites for every team…a lot more revenue and the expanding the brand to new markets. I’m against the idea, but I definitely see why they want it…

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