The New CBA- A Final Solution to the NFL Labor Issues

I posted this article I wrote on a couple of SBNation blogs I respect yesterday.  Since mockingthedraft  has fans from every team that are interested in the future I thought I would also post it here for you. Warning.  It is long and pretty drawn out.



I have taken the time to try and resolve the vexing NFL labor issue.  My past articles on the  dreaded labor negotiations and pending lock-out have not offered a contract solution to the issues. They have offered A view from a Labor perspective, A players resistance solution, and a fan's resistance solution.    Lately, I see that both sides have softened up the rhetoric and that gives me hope.  This is a  lengthy discussion post. 

The terms of the CBA and the reasoning behind it follows the jump.

Here are the issues:

  1. The players want pay and benefits to continue to be associated with the revenue they produce
  2. The players want to be able to maximize their individual earnings by being able to shop their services when they achieve free agency
  3. The owners want to place a ceiling on wages in order to be competitive
  4. The owners don't want to waste money on bad draft picks
  5. The owners want each team to be competitive
  6. The owners want to increase the value of the league and each well run team.


General Terms of the New CBA:


A.  Pay-

  As liberal as I am.  As capitalistic as I am.  As greedy as I am.   I can't justify why the best football player in the world needs a salary above 20 Million per year.  I also don't know why the worst player shouldn't receive $500,000 per year. The reason I limit the top player is because anyone that good is going to have extra endorsement money anyway.  The reason I want to pay less talented  players so much is simple.  They won't last long anyway and they take a daily risk of permanent injury.  So those are my parameters.  Those are hard individual salary caps and floors. They are fair amounts.  The Owners share revenue for the good of the game.  Top players should have to share by capping their wages for the good of the game.

B. Free agency- 

The draft dictates where a player must play.  That is extremely restrictive.  For instance,  every other college graduate can work for whoever in their field wishes to hire them.   In exchange for that restriction every player becomes a free agent after his rookie contract or any other contract expiration.

Every player must play out his legal contract ( injury excepted) or be banished from the game for life.  If you don't want to play don't sign and take any money.

 A contract is a contract.  Therefore,  every contract is 100% guaranteed and a maximum of three years long except the Rookie contracts described below..

 C. Rookie Salary Cap

1.  Rookie contracts are a maximum of three years long. Rookie contracts are only guaranteed for one year.  The top 15 draft picks get a sliding scale from 10 Mil per year to 5 Mil per year.  The salary of all other picks shall be set by the market ( slotted as it exists today).

2.    Any  draft pick that performs in the top 10% at his position in the NFL shall receive a bonus equating his total salary at 5 Mil per year. In other words if a 6th round selection performs in the top 10% at his position he shall be awarded the lowest  salary of a top 15 pick for that year.

3.  Any  draft pick that does not perform may be cut or maintained under the existing contract after each year.

4. Any team which offers the maximum salary under the CBA to an expiring rookie contract may maintain the player for an additional 3 year guaranteed contract.  You may keep your star player but you have to pay him the max. 


C.  Salary Caps and floors. 

The current salary cap is computed as follows:

Owners get the first 1 Billion in Revenue.  Players get the next 60% of the defined revenue. In 2009 the salary cap for each team was 127 MillionThe least a team was allowed to spend was around 108 Million. This was all based on league wide revenue of just about 8 Billion Dollars.

   A.  Salary Cap:

         Starting in 2011 the salary cap for each team shall be 127 Million plus 30% of all League revenue over 8 Billion dollars. In this way player compensation continues to rise if the league grows.  

The players percentage share  of league revenues shall increase 5% each time total league revenue increases 1 Billion dollars and cease to increase when total revenue equals 14 Billion dollars. This places the parties back in  exactly the position they are in  now, if the league grows revenue by an additional 75%.  Each side is  no better and no worse. The owners get their opportunity to prove that salaries are the enemy to growing the game.  The players get the opportunity to prove that this is not true. Neither side wins or loses during the contract.

  The players are assured that their wages do not get cut during times of rising revenue. The owners can grow the game and the value of its franchises without breaking the bank.

     1.  Owners opt to not raise the cap.

The owners may opt to not raise the cap for any year in which they claim player expenses are affecting their growth.  However this will trigger the financial audit as structured under paragraph E below and the auditor will be the sole judge of the economic question raised by the owners.  If the owners need this then they have to prove it.

   B.  Salary Floor:

The salary floor is designed to benefit those teams with excellent management skills.  Not to save money for low revenue teams that don't want to be competitive. The owners share revenue among themselves to create parity in the league.  This revenue sharing has been going on since 1960 and will continue under this new contract.  Therefore,  the salary floor is set at 90% of the salary cap. 

Small market and low revenue teams are successful in the NFL under these rules. There is no reason to change any of the existing structures that work.  It is obvious that certain markets are not being successful today. Those are individual market issues and must be resolved by that individual team's ownership.

   C. Retired player benefits.

50% of any direct savings resulting from the rookie salary cap being instituted shall be paid into the benefit fund for retired players.


D.  Player Benefits:  All benefits remain the same under this contract.

E. If Revenue goes down:

Then every player's salary on every team goes down by 50% of the % revenue reduction..  If the players union is so resolute that the league will continue to grow under the existing contract then they can put the players money where their mouth is. Players now get 52% of the revenues.  Under this plan if revenues decrease by 10% each salary shall decrease by 5%.  Once the players are asked to lower their salaries then each team must submit its financial records to an independent confidential auditor agreed to by both parties.  The cost of the league wide audit will be shared 50/50. No individual  team financial information will be disclosed to the union. The auditor shall be the sole judge of economic  contract questions  arising out of the CBA.

   F.  Length of New CBA:

  This contract is a six year contract. 


G.  Other terms.  The last CBA is 301 pages long.  I expect all of the detail to be pretty much the same. I know of know other major issues the parties are fighting about.


Of course I really don't believe that either side will take such a proposal seriously.  after all it is proposed only by a football fan.  But I do believe all the issues are solvable by these parties.

I would be curious as to what the fan reaction is to this model. Since this caps your star player, shortens the contracts, limits draft pick risk, and saves the owners money what objections do you have?  What objections would any owner have?  Is it a fair concept?

If you would make changes are your changes fair to each side?

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