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Everyone has a timeline of when how the NFL will re-open their doors and get back to business. Pro Football Talk has the timeline that's being presented to the NFLPA executive committee and player reps so I would expect this to be close to what will actually go down when the lockout is officially lifted.
The caveat is that, while deals can be negotiated, no money can actually be paid to a player until the players officially reform as a union and ratify the CBA. This needs to be done before Aug. 4.
Here's some good news, football fans: the latest labor deal between the owners and players does not include an early opt-out, NFL Network's Albert Breer reports. That means the 10-year agreement is just that -- a firm 10-year deal.
In the last collective bargaining agreement signed in 2006, there was an early opt-out which the owners exercised at the first possible time in May 2008. That won't happen this time around.
This means that we will have 10 more years of labor peace in the NFL extending their run to 35 consecutive years without a game missed due to labor disputes at the end of the new deal.
This is excellent news for football fans everywhere, especially after undergoing the last three years of labor talk around the NFL. We shouldn't have to hear the words "injunction" or "stay" or "8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals" in regards to a labor stoppage for some time.
The next step is for the players to vote on the proposed deal, which nearly everyone expects them to approve, and then to lay out a timeline for getting back to football.
If you've turned on the TV or opened your computer on Monday morning, then you know by now that the NFL lockout is nearly over. The owners and players agreed to the final details of a new labor deal early Monday morning and the players are expected to vote -- and approve -- the deal on Monday.
The NFLPA has confirmed that there is an 11:00 a.m. (ET) conference call with the players' executive committee and 32 player reps. Presumably, this is about the time a vote will go down to approve the deal. The 10 named plaintiffs will also have to sign off on the deal but that's not expected to be a problem.
The players vote appears to be a formality at this point. The NFLPA wouldn't put this to a vote unless they thought they could get all the necessary votes so expect it to get done.
From there, the NFLPA will likely hold some sort of press conference celebrating the return of football and then we should soon be getting an official timeline on the two most pressing needs -- free agency and training camps.
According to a variety of reports, the NFL players agreed to a proposal with the owners on a new labor agreement to end the NFL lockout. The agreement reportedly came sometime early Monday morning around 3:00 a.m. (ET). A press conference is expected to go down sometime on late Monday morning or early Monday afternoon.
Of course, this is all contingent on the players actually voting to approve the deal, which should take place sometime on Monday. That's considered a formality at this point.
So the next step will be the players voting to approve the deal followed by a press conference announcing that they've done so.
From there, we still need to determine what the timeline of re-opening the league will be like. ESPN reports that free agency could start as soon as Tuesday with contracts not becoming official until Aug. 2 while others report that full free agency won't open until Friday night.
This is going to be a very good day, football fans. The NFL lockout only has a few more hours to live.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, if the NFL Players Association ratifies a collective bargaining agreement with the owners on Monday, NFL teams would be able to re-sign their own free agents as early as this afternoon.
Schefter's timeline also has teams being able to discuss trade parameters and negotiate with other team's free agents (restricted, unrestricted) this afternoon, though trades would not be official until Saturday, July 30.
Teams would be able to sign other team's free agents beginning at 12pm ET on Tuesday, July 26, but those contracts would not become official until the 2011 league year begins at 4pm ET on August 2, eight days after the NFLPA will have ratified the CBA and potentially up to seven days after a player and his new team agree to terms.
Members of the NFLPA Executive Committee were scheduled to meet at 9am ET on Monday, though Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that a final document is not expected to be ready for the committee to vote on until late Monday morning. Once the committee recommends the agreement and recertification of the union, the 32 player representatives will vote on the same issues via conference call, turning the matter over to the ten plaintiffs in the Brady v NFL antitrust lawsuit.
We're hearing a variety of predictions on when things like free agency and training camp will start once the NFL lockout ends, which is expected to happen on Monday. We've pieced a few reports together (much of it from Mark Maske of the Washington Post) and believe we have the rough and unofficial outline of what the league year will look like if/when the players approve the deal on Monday.
Starting on Tuesday, teams would be able to sign their own free agents, undrafted free agents and rookies. They would also be able to begin talking to other teams' unrestricted free agents on this day as well.
Starting on Thursday, training camps would start to open. 10 teams could open on Thursday, 10 more on Friday, 10 more on Saturday and two on Sunday. This of course is all depending on each team's camp schedule.
Starting on Friday, unrestricted free agency would begin. This would be a 6:00 p.m. start date and it's expected to be wild. It'll be interesting to see how the fact that camp has already started for most teams affects free agency.
All this is contingent on the players taking a vote and approving the deal on Monday. Though it's widely expected to happen, we also thought it would happen last weekend, too. So once the players approve, the free agency and training camp plans will be put into motion.
Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com is the latest to report the NFL lockout is likely ending on Monday. The owners and players worked into early Monday morning on the final details of the deal and it's believed the players will vote on Monday to approve the deal.
The players' executive committee will vote first to recommend the deal followed by the 32 player reps doing the same. From there, the 10 named plaintiffs will give the OK to the deal and if that happens we'll be talking about actual football.
The first order of business, once the players vote, will be to figure out training camp and free agency. Glazer reports team facilities will be open on Tuesday and teams will start training camps on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Drew Brees, member of the executive committee, sent an email to his teammates indicating that free agency could start at noon on Tuesday. That means we could have an incredibly wild week of free agency only days before training camp.
So it appears Monday is the key day when the players wil vote and we could see a press conference between NFL and NFLPA officials announcing the end of the lockout.
Get ready for some football because when it comes back, it'll be coming fast and furious.
The NFL lockout deal is complete--at least that is what New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees is e-mailing his teammates, reports Brad Biggs of the National Football Post. Brees is one of 10 players involved in the Brady vs. NFL lawsuit over the lockout.
In the e-mail (via NFL Network's Jason La Canfora), Brees informs his teammates that the deal will be announced on Monday at a press conference. After that, the 72-hour window for teams to re-sign players could begin on Tuesday and that free agency would begin on Friday. However, none of this is finalized yet.
The league year, Brees writes, would begin on July 31 and that would be the day the Saints report to training camp and hold a team meeting. The first report believes physicals would take place on Saturday.
Start feeling the optimism about having football this fall.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this StoryStream.
As with most reports emerging these days on the NFL lockout, there's always another side to the story. While Sunday morning reports had the new agreement between the owners and the players settled, Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter has another side to the story. On Sunday evening, Trotter tweeted that the deal has not been completed yet, but it should be finished on Monday.
Both sides are probably arguing over the inclusion of a split infinitive on the 335th page. Actually, there's no indication what both sides are working on while they work toward a successful agreement, but language is obviously a god bet on what need to be work out.
Even with this latest wrinkle popping up, it's unlikely to turn into a major roadblock. On Monday, NFL fans should expect the NFLPA to hold its press conference to announce a new deal. But no one is likely to breathe easy until the players vote on reforming the union.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this StoryStream.
There are a few different timelines floating around about how the post-NFL lockout schedule will go down, including ESPN's which has training camps starting on Wednesday or Friday of this week, and free agency starting on Saturday.
Mike Freeman of CBS Sports has a different timeline.
The new proposal stipulates the league year starts on the fifth day after the agreement is ratified, I'm told by a player source. Training camps cannot start until seven days after agreement is signed by both parties.
So that means, if the players vote to recommend the deal on Monday, the league year (or free agency) would start on Saturday, July 30, and training camps would start on Monday, Aug. 1. Of course, this is all unofficial until the two sides actually finish the deal and announce a post-lockout schedule.
But it sounds like we could be seeing free agency sometime next weekend, and the start of training camps shortly after that, which would mean only a few days of missed camp time.
The NFL's players and owners had a breakthrough this weekend which may lead to the end of the NFL lockout and the return of football. Heading into the weekend, the players had three major steps to take care of: resolve the settlement, recertify as a union and hammer out the final collectively bargained items.
It appears they're getting closer to that. The two sides are getting to the point where it seems most reports have the end of the lockout as a formality at this point.
There are, however, a few more steps to take. On Monday, we'll see players voting on whether to recommend the deal. They've been poring over it all weekend, talking with the owners, so expect it to be recommended.
So here's how the process will go down. First, the players executive committee will vote (reportedly on Monday) to recommend the proposal (with all the changes made via talks with the owners over the weekend). This is an 11-man committee and they're expected to approve it. Second, the player reps -- one from each team -- will need to vote, likely via phone, to recommend the deal. Again, this is expected to happen. The 10 named plaintiffs are also expected to sign off on any deal.
From there, the players would need to sign physical union cards and that could be something that's done on the first day of training camp.
The sides are reportedly still trying to work out a scenario where the league year opens sometime this week.
According to a new report this morning by Mike Freeman at CBS Sports, the NFL lockout of 2011 is all but over, and the NFLPA vote coming on Monday is more or less a formality. The players and owners are said to have reached an agreement on the CBA, and the players will approve the deal in a vote on Monday, according to Freeman's source, a player.
This sounds very definitive and not like a smoke and mirrors report at all. It appears that the NFL lockout is finally coming to an end and that the labor stoppage will finally end on Monday.
A few other things have to happen before the NFL is totally back in business, such as the reformation of the NFLPA as a union, but there's no reason to believe that there will be any obstacles in that respect if the two sides have agreed to a deal. If the players vote to approve the resolution on Monday, team facilities should open on Wednesday with players reporting for training camp on Friday.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this StoryStream.
The NFL lockout may be over early this coming week. We heard similar statements last weekend and none of that held true. However, the NFLPA has spent the weekend negotiating with the owners to iron out any problems in a new collective bargaining agreement. Talks have gone so well apparently that the NFLPA will hold a press conference on Monday to announce an agreement with the owners.
One significant change that happened over the weekend was wide receiver Vincent Jackson dropping his compensation claim for either unrestricted free agency or $10 million as part of the settlement deal in the Brady vs. NFL lawsuit. He was the last remaining of the 10 players in the lawsuit who agreed to drop any demands.
After Monday's press conference, there are still a number of votes that need to take place. First the NFLPA executive committee would need to recommend the CBA and a reformation of the union. The next vote would go to the 32 player representatives. The final hurdle would then be to have all of the players vote. If all goes according to plan, voting could start Wednesday when players report to team facilities. Friday would be the day for all players to report, which could lead to the required 50-percent-plus-one majority needed to recertify the union.
It's best to remain cautiously optimistic, but it does look like the NFLPA is fully behind this new deal.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this StoryStream.
Because of the NFL lockout, HBO will not air its popular training camp series, "Hard Knocks," this season. With training camps, free agency and the exhibition schedule all in flux, it seemed as though the HBO series was always in jeopardy, but the show was an afterthought with the bitter labor struggle ongoing and the prospect of canceled games looming.
Peter King broke the news to the world on Twitter Saturday afternoon, confirming the expected.
No "Hard Knocks" this year. I repeat: No "Hard Knocks."
For now, it appears the entire preseason will be strewn together, operating unlike any run-up to the regular season we've ever seen. The NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton has been canceled already, and free agency will boil down to about a week of hectic action whenever the lockout does end.
On the plus side, Rex Ryan cursing like a sailor will be the lasting image of "Hard Knocks." And you know, I'm sure plenty are fine with that. There's no topping how Ryan handled the cameras last season, so perhaps a year off will be good for the show.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this storystream.
Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith struck up an odd relationship throughout the NFL lockout, working together in the midst of a emotional rollercoaster of negotiations and public battles in the media. It was Goodell and Smith huddled together in secret meetings and over the last few days, it's the same two working together to iron-out the last few details.
How solid is there relationship, even after Thursday's power play by the owners? They're still talking this weekend and if everything goes according to plan, Goodell may be at an NFLPA press conference to announce an agreement on Monday, according to Chris Mortensen.
Goodell & Smith working directly on ouple finishing details but trust is there & determined. In fact, Goodell may be invited to Mon. presser. Now Goodell doesn't have to show for a Mon presser in DC. They've had their's but would be a good show of unity if he was with Smith.
As we know by now, nothing is final, but the prevailing wisdom seems to be that Monday is the day. The NFLPA executive board is expect to recommend the agreement Smith and Goodell are working on be passed, and football could be back as soon as Wednesday -- at least if the tentative timelines are right.
The two have become the odd couple as public faces of both sides of the NFL lockout, but deserve an immense amount of credit for getting the negotiations this far. All that's left is a few final details to end our long national nightmare.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this storystream.
Saturday's talks between the National Football League and NFL Players Association has led to "major progress" towards a new collective bargaining agreement, ESPN's Chris Mortensen and John Clayton reported.
Legal and financial teams for the NFLPA are working throughout the day, with the 11-member NFLPA Executive Committee members remaining in contact via phone. The 10-member NFL Management Council Executive Committee also held a conference call to discuss the outstanding labor issues.
According to the ESPN report, the players' executive committee is expected to meet on Monday at the NFLPA's Washington, D.C. headquarters where they could vote to recommend the 10-year collective bargaining agreement and recertifying the union. After the executive committee makes its recommendation, the 32 player representatives will vote on the CBA and recertification issue before the matter is in the hands of the ten plaintiffs in the Brady v NFL antitrust lawsuit.
A major hurdle in the settlement of the antitrust lawsuit was cleared earlier on Saturday when a request for unrestricted free agency or $10 million on behalf of franchised San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was withdrawn. Earlier requests made on behalf of New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had already been withdrawn.
Once the players reform as a union, remaining issues such as the league's drug testing and discipline policies can be collectively bargained with the league.
Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network reports that there are a lot of moving parts, particularly concerning the recertification timeline, but the players could be in position to vote on a collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday, with the 2011 league year possibly beginning on Wednesday and training camps opening up on Friday of next week.
Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that talks are still ongoing.
Vincent Jackson has finally given it up.
Jackson, one of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit, was reportedly making demands -- or someone on his behalf was making demands -- such as a cash payout or lifting of the franchise tag in return for his signature in the settlement with the owners.
Jackson tweeted earlier this week that he just wanted to play football and wasn't making demands but multiple reports suggested otherwise.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Jackson has dropped his demands. He's not seeking money or free agency in exchange for his role as a named plaintiff in the case.
Jackson's the last question mark of all 10 named plaintiffs. It's believed all 10 will sign the settlement without a problem whenever the players vote to approve it. Previously, it was reported Colts QB Peyton Manning and Saints QB Drew Brees were requesting special treatment, but agent Tom Condon denied that. The agent for Patriots G Logan Mankins also denied he was seeking special treatment.
So whenever the players review the owners' proposal and ultimately vote, they'll have all 10 signatures.
As the NFL owners wait for the players to make a move on a new collective bargaining agreement, there are still issues that the players need to resolve in any new agreement. According to Pro Football Talk, on Wednesday the NFLPA received a summary of a deal that included 10 open issues, but which were not in the one the owners' approved deal.
Among the 10 issues, there are several that jump out. The first issue deals with teams needing to spend 89 percent of the salary cap and other conditions on spending. Another issue is with the rookie wage scale, as the open issue is whether fourth-year players will receive an escalator clause to boost their salary to $1.2 million. Another issue that was left open was to have the franchise tag be applicable only once in a player's career.
But as we've heard over the last two days, two big issues are an opt-out clause and a resolution to the Brady vs. NFL case. The players want an opt-out clause after seven years, while the owners voted for a straight 10-year deal.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this storystream.
This is the bizarro world of the NFL lockout we're living in now: Adam Schefter, who just minutes before reported the players will reconvene on Monday to figure out what to do with the owners' proposal, is now reporting a meeting is not certain. Instead, the players will continue to stay in contact throughout the weekend -- the NFLPA office will be open, as well -- and figure out what to do next when the time comes.
Let's contrast, shall we? First up, the email from the NFLPA, courtesy of Schefter.
Player reps emailed a letter to players saying, "We will meet again Monday to discuss our options and the direction we want to go."
Minutes later, a report from Schefter.
Although an email told players that reps would meet Monday, NFLPA sources say no meeting is planned and talks will continue through weekend.
And finally, what should happen next:
Would really appreciate it if Schefter smiled at camera and said 'Guys, I have to be honest here. I have no effin clue. Put the poker on.'
At any rate, the NFLPA will continue to parse the proposal from the owners and, whenever the players are ready, will hold a vote. Negotiations may still happen before a vote and the players can take their time here, and likely will after the owners' power play on Thursday. At this point, the players can afford to make the owners sweat by not setting a firm timetable and keeping them guessing.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this storystream.
Yep, the NFL lockout is still on. The players and owners have yet to formally finalize an agreement that will end the lockout and, while we think they're very close to doing that, we still don't know when it'll all become official.
The player reps have been considering the owners' latest proposal, which was issued on Thursday night. The first step for the players will be voting on the settlement but, according to reports, that likely won't come on Friday.
In fact, it may not come at all this weekend. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the player reps sent an email to the players that said:
"Our recommendation is for everyone to stay put and keep doing what you are doing where you are doing it. We will meet again Monday to discuss our options and the direction we want to go."
Sigh..another NFL lockout-filled weekend.
By many accounts, this lockout will be resolved. We just don't know whether it will be tonight, this weekend or next week.
The NFL and NFLPA are nearing the end of the lockout. Here are three more steps that must be completed before football returns.
More changes are expected to be coming to NFL rosters in the 2011 season and beyond. NFL executives met at an Atlanta hotel on Friday morning for a labor seminar on the new rules involved with the owners proposal to the players.
Though it's not officially official, the executives in that meeting were told that game day rosters would expand from 45 to 46 players, according to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora. However, there won't be a third quarterback designation.
Previously, teams could dress 46 players if one of those players was a third quarterback. There were rules that would limit a starter re-entering the game if the third quarterback did.
The new roster limit at 46 players will be a hard one. There are no more third quarterback designations so, for most teams, the same number of players will be dressing on game day -- they'll all just be active.
That's just one of several tweaks to the deal we'll expect to be hearing whenever it all becomes official.
So the NFL lockout story continues to go round and round.
The dispute started back in March when the owners disagreed with how the players were decertifying as a union. The dispute continues on Friday with the owners disagreeing with how the players were recertifying as a union.
The owners are willing to lightly open the doors to the league over the next few days -- as detailed in a post-lockout schedule -- as the players begin the process of recertification. However, the players, according to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, don't want to get things started back up until the lockout is officially lifted.
The owners said on Thursday that teams would open their facilities to players on Saturday. However, the trade association doesn't want players to do so until the lockout is lifted first. The chances of that happening are zero.
And around and around we go. This will end...eventually.
In the last labor agreement extended in 2006, there was a clause that allowed each side to opt out of the deal early. The owners did so in May 2008, the earliest point in which they could opt out.
In the latest proposed labor deal, the owners have said there will be early opt-out clause in the 10-year agreement. That means it would be a hard agreement of 10 years.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, some players want an early opt-out clause included. Mort reports that some players have the desire to include an opt-out clause after seven years of the 10-year agreement that would include some sort of penalty.
This is one of those details the players want to clear up with the owners before agreeing to approve the proposal.
For the fans, a 10-year agreement would be great because it means another 10 years without labor disputes interrupting the season. For the players, though, it's a tough decision considering most of the players currently playing won't be in the league in 10 years.
This issue suggests the owners and players need to do some more talking before the deal becomes official. It's looking more and more like the players vote won't be taken on Friday.
The process of finalizing the proposal from the owners and ending the NFL lockout may not be done on Friday morning. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that it's possible a vote by the players is taken on Friday night but more likely that will come sometime this weekend.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is in Boston attending the funeral of Myra Kraft, the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who passed away on Wednesday morning.
NFLPA president Kevin Mawae issued a statement from the players Friday morning:
"Player leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement, deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification. There will not be any further NFLPA statements today out of respect for the Kraft family while they mourn the loss of Myra Kraft."
So it certainly sounds like we won't have a resolution on the owners proposal. Things can change but that's the way this is heading. If a deal isn't done by sometime Friday, the timeline of re-opening the doors to the league could change.
Thursday night, Roger Goodell announced that NFL owners had an agreement to end the lockout. This was news to the players, who hadn't agreed to anything. So why announce it? Because the NFL thinks you're stupid.
The NFL lockout was in a state of confusion on Thursday night as some folks reported that the players were expected to vote on the owners proposal on Friday and others indicated a vote wouldn't come on that day. Even the NFLPA didn't know if they would vote on Friday.
The truth is somewhere in between, as usual.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports the players will vote on the owners proposal on Thursday. However, there are a few "finishing points" they need to clear up in the proposal. The players indicated the owners included several terms in the proposal that were negotiated on so I imagine that's what those "finishing points" are.
But if they can get past those -- Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are staying in touch -- then we could see a vote on Friday. Normally, I'd say they would accept the proposal but there was quite a negative reaction from some players on Twitter so that's no guaranteed.
The owners are looking for the players to agree to the deal and recertify by next Tuesday.
Andrew Brandt at the National Football Post takes a look at the labor deal that the owners have proposed to end the NFL Lockout. This isn't guaranteed to be the actual deal, of course, since there's still some wrangling to be done over some provisions that shocked players who hadn't yet seen them before the owners drew the deal up and agreed to it on their own. But here's the general idea.
Players will receive about 48 percent of all revenue, but owners will receive credit for stadium investments.
There will be a salary cap of around $120 million, with the potential for yearly increases depending on revenue. There will also be a cash minimum, as compared to a cap minimum, which will guarantee that teams have to spend real money up to a certain level.
All minimum salaries have increased $55,000 over 2010, and will rise $15,000 each year after that. As NFP points out, this will affect a tremendous number of players.
There will be four-year contracts for all rookies taken in the draft. There are also a number of provisions that will limit the salaries of first-round picks.
There will not be an 18-game season until 2013 at the earliest.
The NFL can decide to begin revenue sharing, and players want to make sure that teams have to commit shared revenue to player salaries -- a point of contention for the NFLPA.
Finally, and this is another point of contention, the NFL wants the players' union to re-form, and to use electronic means. The players want the union to re-form in the old-fashioned way, with union cards. The players feel like the NFL is coercing them, which is illegal.
Head on over to the National Football Post for all the details. Again, this is not necessarily guaranteed to be the deal put into practice whenever the NFL lockout ends -- and we're assuming it ends sometime in the near future. Instead, the players can counter, approve the proposal as is or negotiate some of the more contentious points before taking a vote.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue following this storystream.
For players, one of the key sticking points in the proposal that NFL owners have passed to end the NFL Lockout - aside from some provisions involving revenue sharing, and the fact that it includes anything at all that the players haven't agreed to yet - is its suggestion that the players have to form a union by a certain date.
An email from the NFLPA makes clear that the owners' apparent attempts to get the players to form a union could be illegal, in that the owners can't force players to form a union. And by using language that suggests that the union needs to recertify by next Wednesday, they appear to be making recertification a precondition of reaching an agreement and ending the lockout.
"In addition to depriving the players of the time needed to consider forming a union and making needed changes to the old agreement, this proposed procedure would in my view also violate federal labor laws," the email read. "Those laws prohibit employers from coercing their employees into forming a union, and could result in any agreement reached through the procedure being declared null and void."
Gabe Feldman, an NFL Network legal analyst, says that the fix here might be a simple one: simply say that NFL Training Camps will start on the condition that the players recertify the union "at some point." Not next Wednesday, but at some point in the future.
For more on the NFL Lockout, keep following this storystream.
The impending end to the NFL Lockout might not be so impending after all, after a strange day on Thursday that featured the owners approving a proposal that includes terms that the players hadn't previously agreed upon, and with a number of players expressing frustration at the owners' actions. The players have received the proposal, but at this point, they haven't had much time to review it, and it's not yet clear whether they'll vote on it on Friday.
At this point, we don't quite know what's going to happen. On one hand, here's Chris Mortensen:
Good news. Players wrapped call, then leadership received final details. Vote can come tomorrow if they can satisfy a finishing detail or 2.
Okay, great! But here's Gregg Rosenthal:
ESPN.com article: NFLPA execs told Mort vote is likely Friday. NFLPA rep says no timetable. On ESPN. Confusion in nutshell.
But wait! On the other hand, here's ESPN.com.
The NFLPA executive committee and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith saw the details approved by the NFL owners late Thursday night, and told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen they expect to have a player vote Friday.
But hang on! Here's Nick Hardwick of the Chargers:
"There’s still a ways to go," he said. "… I can’t put a timeline on it. Our leadership can’t put a timeline on it. We’re not going to be rushed into taking something we’re going to regret down the line."
Yikes. We may have to wait a while to find out what's really going on here. It still isn't clear whether the NFLPA will vote on Friday.
For more on the NFL Lockout, check out the rest of this storystream.
Following news of the owner's ratifying a significantly altered version of the previously agreed upon collective bargaining agreement, a proposed player vote that was scheduled to take place Thursday has now been delayed until further notice. With the unexpected last-second changes in the proposal, the players union have decided to break off all talks until the agreement's new stipulations can be fully overlooked by representatives. The decision to was reached following an extended union conference call Thursday night.
Understandably, there has been a firestorm of reaction from the NFLPA's side once the owner's deal was reached. Upon finishing the call, player representative George Wilson stated "This is nothing more than an attempt to get the fans to turn on the players, to add even more pressure on the players and to attempt to get us to take a deal."
According to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith, he and NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen are under the impression that the nature of the proposal may violate federal labor laws. Essentially, the idea is that it is highly illegal for an employer to strong-arm their employees into the formation of a union. In trying to call a press conference to intimidate players into passing an agreement they have yet to look over, Smith believes the owners are in clear violation of the clause.
The NFL also demanded that they see proof of the validity of the union's re-certification by visibly monitoring whether a majority of players have signed their union authorization voting cards. An e-mail by Berthelsen explained that the league made it clear that the player's union must meet a July 26th deadline for this request.
The new CBA includes "virtually all provisions of the old CBA" and that, after voting on it, by July 26, the players would have just three days to bargain changes in terms. The agreement, the email goes on, "would become final on Saturday, July 30. If the NFL does not agree to the players' proposed changes, the old CBA terms on benefits, discipline, safety, etc., will remain unchanged for another 10 years."
ESPN reports that players will not vote Thursday night on the new CBA proposal that was approved by the owners. The new proposal apparently contains terms that the players did not get an opportunity to negotiate, and the players, perhaps understandably, are upset. It's not surprising that they would want time to review the proposal at the very least, and it isn't a shock that they would be infuriated by this latest move from the owners.
This #Lockout is a Shame.......The owners are trying to Bigboy us in the end..they wanna ball the New CBA up and Kick it to us basically...
So yall expect us to sign a 400 page deal in a hour without thoroughly looking thru it?
Meanwhile, the NFLPA recently emailed teams' player reps to let them know it was dissatisfied with the owners' behavior.
"In addition to depriving the players of the time needed to consider forming a union and making needed changes to the old agreement, this proposed procedure would in my view also violate federal labor laws," the email read. "Those laws prohibit employers from coercing their employees into forming a union, and could result in any agreement reached through the procedure being declared null and void."
In the middle of the week, it looked like the NFL Lockout would be over in a matter of days, or perhaps even hours. But the owners' latest move has opened a new chasm between the players and owners. We'll see if they can bridge it, but I wouldn't bet on it happening immediately.
For more on the NFL Lockout, continue to follow this storystream.
In case you hadn't heard, the owners finally took the first step towards ending the NFL lockout, voting to approve the proposed deal with the NFLPA late Thursday afternoon. The agreement was almost unanimous as well, with the result of the vote coming out to 31-0. ‘But there are 32 teams!' you say. That's correct, and that 32nd one -- Al Davis' very own Oakland Raiders -- elected to abstain from voting.
Upon first glance, the general feeling crossing the minds of most NFL fans when they read the news was probably one of mild amusement. ‘Of course the party pooper was the Raiders.' Yet, as further reports continue to leak out regarding the unethical absurdity that revolved around creation of the new deal, the lone abstainer is starting to evoke a far nobler tone.
According to CBA team CEO Amy Trask, the franchise expressed "profound philosophical differences" with the formation of the new deal, adding that their misgivings were both "football and economic in nature." She continued, tweeting, "We voted in the manner we believe best for football and with the courage of our convictions."
While declining to specify the franchise's reservations, Trask said, "We've consistently expressed these views to the league."
In a show of hands, who would have thought that the one franchise most notorious for ineptitude throughout the past decade, would actually emerge from the owner's negotiations as the best dressed of the ball. Anyone?
So the NFL owners approved a proposal to send to the players that would help end this NFL lockout mess. Apparently, not all of the terms in the proposal have been negotiated on by the players.
In fact, the NFLPA isn't even seeing some of these changes until Thursday night -- the same night they're expected to vote yay or nay on the proposal.
That, Jay Glazer reports, is why a vote among the players likely won't go down on Thursday.
I'm now hearing the players will NOT vote bc they haven't even seen what owners have done w changes players made to the owners' proposal.
It's yet another stumbling block. It seems any time an end to the NFL lockout is in sight, some new development ruins the momentum.
The delay is understandable from the players' perspective if the owners added terms to the agreement that the players weren't unaware of or didn't negotiate.
NFL officials conducted a press conference on Thursday evening announcing that they had approved a proposal to send to the players that would resolve their labor dispute. If the players accept, the NFL lockout would (conditionally) end.
As noted by SB Nation's Jason Kirk, the owners' approving the vote and announcing to the world that they're ready to end the lockout puts the players in a difficult position. Reportedly, not all players are happy with the proposal.
SB Nation obtained an email sent by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith to the players and it sounds like there's work to be done.
As you know the Owners have ratified their proposal to settle our differences. It is my understanding that they are forwarding it to us.
As you may have heard, they apparently approved a supplemental revenue sharing proposal. Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions.
As you know from yesterday, issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open, other issues such as workers compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms remain unresolved.
There is no agreement between the NFL and the Players at this time. I look forward to our call tonight."
We should learn more following Smith's conference call with the players.
The owners approved a proposal to send to the players in an effort to reach an agreement on a new labor deal and end the NFL lockout. The owners proposal has been sent to the players. NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith will be conducting a conference call with some players on Thursday night but it's not yet known if they'll vote on the proposal (and even if they do vote, it's no guarantee it passes).
The owners' released details of what the NFL schedule would look like over the next week if the players accepted their deal.
July 23: Team facilities open and players are permitted in to work out and meet with the coaches. These are voluntary until the first day of training camp.
July 23: Teams can start signing their own free agents, rookies, restricted free agents and franchise players.
July 23: At 2:00 p.m. (ET), teams can negotiate with -- but not sign -- undrafted free agents, other teams' unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and franchise players. This is an interesting wrinkle that they can negotiation but not sign the players.
July 24: Teams can start signing those undrafted free agents.
July 27: The league year starts at 2:00 p.m. (ET) -- if the NFLPA has recertified and ratified the CBA. Most people know this day as the start of free agency. After four days of negotiating but not signing, it'll be interesting to see how quickly the market moves.
July 27: Rosters expand to 90 players. This was 80 players in previous years.
July 27: Surprise: training camps are open for every team. Players would have physicals on day one and no pads would be allowed until day four.
From there, the rest of the preseason schedule -- minus the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7 -- would go on as planned. The regular season as well wouldn't be affected.
Wednesday night, NFL players reportedly agreed to "conditionally" accept a settlement that would move the two sides to end the lockout, if certain agreements with ownership could be reached. The owners voted Thursday to ratify a proposal to be sent along to the players ... so what happens if players don't like that proposal?
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, that might be exactly what's happening right now. He cites multiple NFLPA personalities who are displeased by the owners' vote, as it "puts the onus" on players to either accept a deal that they wouldn't have otherwise accepted or to look like the bad guys for continuing the labor impasse despite what will appear to Joe Fan to be a good faith effort by the NFL.
Whether the deal the owners signed off on has anything to do with what players would agree to won't matter to football fans who've been told the lockout is inches away from ending.
To further rain on the parade: Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter says "you can take it to the bank" players won't ratify the current proposal. CBS Sports' Mike Freeman quotes another player who doesn't like the deal.
However, there are dissenting views.
For more on the NFL Lockout, check out this storystream.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to the media after the owners voted 31-0 to approve the proposal with the players to end the NFL lockout. The vote now goes to the players who are scheduled to hold an 8:00 p.m. (ET) conference call.
Here are the bullet points of Goodell's press conference:
-It's a 10-year agreement and there are no early opt-outs for either side.
-Training facilities could be open to the players as soon as Saturday. That means the players can go back to their team facilities, meet with the coaching staff and start game-planning for the 2011 season.
-The new league year could start next Wednesday. NFL attorney Jeff Pash said that would mean free agency would start that day as well. Next Wednesday is July 27 and most training camps open between July 29-Aug. 1. That's a tight timeframe for free agency before training camp starts.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news. The news may not be over for the night as the players could vote on the proposal later on Thursday evening.
The process of ending the NFL lockout took a big step on Thursday as the NFL owners voted to approve the proposed deal with the players, according to NFL Network's Albert Breer. The vote was 31-0 with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders abstaining (of course).
We're now halfway there as it now comes down to the players' vote.
NFLPA leadership is conducting a conference call with the players at 8:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday night though we're not sure if that's just an update on where they stand or whether a vote to approve the deal will happen.
The current hang up is whether the lockout will be lifted only after the players officially recertify as a union, or if the league will immediately lift the lockout under certain conditions (such as the players recertifying as a union in a certain number of days).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith spent approximately an hour on the phone together Thursday night trying to compromise on a way to lift the lockout.
The heads of each party in the NFL lockout dispute have been on the phone for over an hour trying to come to an agreement on a way to end the lockout. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith are staying in contact in case both sides approve the deal Thursday evening.
As we've noted, the players want to approve the settlement and then have the league re-open its doors while they begin the process of recertification. The league, however, wants the players to officially recertify as a union before lifting the lockout.
The owners are expected to be voting at some point on Thursday while the players have an 8:00 p.m. (ET) conference call on Thursday night. It's believed they'll approve the settlement at that point.
It seems as though the only major issue remaining is how recertification goes down. A deal will get done either way, it sounds like. It's just whether it will happen within hours or sometime next week.
With most training camps set to open next week, it's time for the two sides to find a compromise that results in the lifting of the lockout.
The NFL requested that a couple of executives from each team report to Atlanta for Thursday's owners meetings. The idea being that the owners would vote to approve the new labor deal and the executives, like GMs and team presidents, would sit down for a seminar on some of the nuts and bolts of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Those team executives were in Atlanta at a hotel to prepare for the seminar but have now been told there will be no meeting today.
NFL Network's Jason La Canfora says not to read too much into this yet. The owners and executives understood that this could spill into Friday.
We're still waiting to hear the result of the owners vote -- many expect them to approve it -- and then the next step will be hearing from the players, who are scheduled for a conference call at 8:00 p.m. with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.
The process of ending the lockout is, as usual, taking a little longer than we expected.
The NFL and NFLPA continue to haggle over some issues as it relates to how they end the NFL lockout. Judy Battista of the New York Times has provided a solid look at each side's position as of Thursday afternoon.
The players will vote on Thursday night to approve the settlement and recommend re-forming as a union. However, the NFLPA wants the players to actually sign union cards and not conduct an email or phone vote. So, the players want the league to open the doors while they go through this process of re-forming as a union, which could take a few days.
The owners will vote on Thursday afternoon and it's believed that they'll approve the deal. However, they do not want to re-open the league until the players officially re-form as a union. Battista tweets, "League does not trust that union would reform without complication."
This basically puts us into some kind of endless circle in which we're wondering whether the chicken or the egg comes first. Indications are that the owners will be voting very shortly on the proposed CBA. Approval from them could help put some of these issues to bed when the players get on their conference call at 8:00 p.m. (ET).
The players need to convince the owners they'll re-form as a union without any problems and the owners need to trust that the players will do that. We're at the point where waiting even a few days could delay training camp (even more) and possibly eliminate the first preseason game of the year, the Rams and Bears Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7.
Over the last week it's been reported that Colts QB Peyton Manning, Saints QB Drew Brees, Patriots G Logan Mankins and Chargers WR Vincent Jackson -- all named plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit against the league -- made personal demands before signing off on the antitrust lawsuit.
Tom Condon, agent for Manning and Brees, said Wednesday on NFL Network that neither player made any sort of demand as part of the NFL lockout talks.
It had still been reported that Mankins and Jackson are seeking $10 million as part of the settlement. Jackson tweeted that he just wants to play football and now the agent for Mankins, Frank Bauer, told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Mankins never made any financial demands.
"For people to say he has made monetary demands, he hasn't made any such demand. We don't know terms. We haven't talked to (NFLPA attorney) Jeff Kessler. There has been no communication, but it's irresponsible to report Logan has made monetary demands."
Mort also reports that the 10 plaintiffs won't receive anything extra in the proposed deal the owners are expected vote on before 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Thursday.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith called a press conference just before 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday in front of the NFLPA headquarters. He didn't provide much of an update but did note that the decision to re-form as a union would be a decision each player has to make and it would be a serious one.
As it stands now, the owners are expected to vote on the deal at some point early Thursday evening. If they approve, the pressure will be on the players. Smith has reportedly called an 8:00 p.m. (ET) conference call with the player reps. It's possible they vote right there and the process of ending the NFL lockout continues but it's also possible no vote is taken pending the resolution of other issues.
Here are a few highlights of Smith's press conference:
We continue to talk. There are some issues that are outstanding that are left to resolve.
I know there's a lot of questions swirling around ... let me tell you: every individual person has to make a decision about whether they want to be a part of the union ... The individual decisions are something our players take extremely serious.
The decision to decertify was important because at the time we were a real union. And the decision for the players, as men, to come back as a union, is going to be a equally serious and very sober one they have to make.
Over the past 24 hours there has been some concern that the players are not prepared to vote on a global settlement. This concern has generated a good deal of speculation as to the reasons for the delay. Some people think Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins still want $10 million apiece. Some think it could have to do with franchise tag issues. And even others think it relates to the $320 million in lost 2010 benefits.
Gabe Feldman just spoke on NFL Network's Total Access show about a possible underlying reason for this delay. Feldman spoke to the idea that the players don't want to rapidly recertify because it could give credence to the owners original claim that the decertification was a sham. For the purposes of this particular collective bargaining agreement that's really not of much significance because the underlying lawsuits and NLRB unfair labor practices would all be part of a global settlement.
The issue is for future collective bargaining. The antitrust lawsuit has proven to be an incredibly effective weapon for the players and they do not want to undercut that option in the future. While we are limited in what we know about the specific details of the current negotiations, it is possible the players want some assurances that a quick return to their union status now would not be used as evidence in the future if they were to chose to decertify down the road. Naturally the owners might have their own opposition to this, thus creating the current logjam. It is simply one more possibility in this seemingly endless process.
The latest news with the NFL lockout is that both sides will be meeting separately within their own groups, possibly to determine the future of the lockout. We have some more information on what's going down on Thursday but we're not totally sure what it all means.
According to ESPN's John Clayton, the league has told the owners to be prepared for a vote sometime on Thursday between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (ET).
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has scheduled a conference call with the player reps at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Thursday evening. It's not clear if that will be an update on where the talks stand or an actual vote.
So we're left waiting again. It's possible -- and maybe even likely -- that this schedule will change at some point so stay tuned for the latest NFL lockout news.
As we've previously explained, there are currently two issues at hand with the NFL lockout negotiations between the owners and players.
First, there needs to be a settlement to end the lawsuits -- both the antitrust (Brady vs. NFL) and the TV contracts case. That's the vote that we hope is going down today.
Second, the next CBA needs to be finalized.
However, the players and owners can't finish a new CBA until the settlement is approved and the players re-constitute themselves as a union. It's that reconstitution of the union that could be holding things up. ESPN previously reported there would be a "global settlement" but it may not be that easy.
How long will it take for the players to re-unionize?
Depends on who you ask. Some argue it could be done in a day and others say it could be a couple of weeks.
If it does take a couple of weeks, then it makes you wonder if the owners would re-open the doors while the players go through the process of reconstituting themselves as a union.
It may happen today, it may happen in two weeks but, in the big picture, it appears we're on our way to ending this thing.
Yes, the NFL lockout is still alive but we hope to have a resolution to that very soon, perhaps within hours or days. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith continued to talk through issues on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, according to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.
The first step for both sides is to approve a settlement agreement that would resolve the antitrust and TV lawsuits. Once that's done, the two sides can start wrapping up the collective bargaining agreement.
Depending on who you listen to, the players reportedly took a vote on Wednesday regarding the settlement which was "conditional" meaning there are still minor issues to clear up. The owners are already meeting on Thursday morning and, if the players can officially pass the settlement approval through, the owners would then take their vote.
Once the settlement issues are cleared up, the players will presumably re-certify as a union, which could take some time (unknown how long that would be), and formalize the CBA with the owners.
So we may not officially end the NFL lockout on Thursday but we can take another step in the right direction.
The NFL lockout is still intact but there are plenty of reasons to believe that this will be the final day before we hear that the owners and players have both voted to essentially end the work stoppage. Many players and player reps are in Washington D.C. with NFLPA leadership while the owners are meeting in Atlanta.
According to reports, the players conditionally voted to approve the settlement pending the resolution of a few issues which would then send the settlement to the named plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL case to sign off. From there, the owners would then need to approve the settlement agreement.
It's important to note that, technically, the settlement and the new CBA are two different things. ESPN previously reported that the two sides hoped to achieve a "global settlement" which would wrap all the legal and CBA stuff up into one but the players may not be following that path.
So here's what you, as a football fan, should be hoping for today:
Will that happen? Past experience with the lockout tells us that this thing will probably be dragged out even longer but I'm hoping the two sides follow the scenario above.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports that lawyers for Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins are still holding up the NFL Lockout by demanding $10 million apiece after being among the plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit.
The lawsuit against the NFL cannot be settled until all the plaintiffs agree and as of late Wednesday night, the source said, Mankins and Jackson were still seeking payment. The NFL, thus far, refuses to agree.
My guess: tomorrow, after more criticism, the two men will drop their requests and the CBA will be agreed to by the players and owners.
Freeman is probably right. Earlier this week, it had been reported that Jackson in particular had "softened [his] stance," and Jackson himself claims that he just wants to play football and that he has "made no demands." That doesn't sound like someone who's going to turn this into a protracted battle that will probably accomplish nothing except delay the start of the season and turn Vincent Jackson into a nationwide villain. I bet Mankins will eventually back down as well. But you never know - greed knows no bounds. In the meantime, this little dancing is beginning to upset their peers - Chris Kluwe has already expressed anger about this, and as Sean Keeley points out, he probably isn't the only player who feels that way.
For more on the NFL Lockout, check out this storystream.
The NFL lockout is incredibly difficult to follow.
On Wednesday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the players would vote on a settlement which, if they approved and the owners did the same on Thursday, would end the NFL lockout.
On Wednesday afternoon, Howard Frenrich of the Associated Press and Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reported that a vote would actually not go down on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated went in a little more in-depth reporting that the players have agreed to approve the settlement and forward to the named plaintiffs "pending resolution of some outstanding issues."
The players vote is conditional, meaning they're prepared to forward the settlement if certain issues can be resolved with the owners.
The players lawyers will continue to negotiate with the league's lawyers, Trotter reports, in anticipation of knocking out the last few hurdles by Thursday morning so that the owners can vote at their meetings in Atlanta later on Thursday.
So the lockout is still on for now but things will become a lot more interesting on Thursday.
The last bit of NFL lockout news we had was a report that the players planned to vote on the settlement with the owners. If they approved then it would be up to the owners to vote on the deal that would end the NFL lockout.
Apparently, the players' vote isn't going down on Wednesday. Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press reports via a source familiar with the negotiations that the vote won't be happening on Wednesday.
This doesn't mean a deal won't get done. NFL super agent Tom Condon said on NFL Network Wednesday afternoon that a vote could happen on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning so there are still opportunities to finish it off this week.
I think most still expect that to happen but like most parts of the lockout it's taking a little longer than we expected.
Previous reports suggested the players would be voting on the settlement on Wednesday and, if they approved, the owners would then vote on Thursday. The players could still approve the settlement Thursday morning but we'll have to wait for that.
Follow along for more NFL lockout updates as we hope for this thing to finally be over.
The NFL lockout is believed to be in its final days (or hours) and the first official step to end the lockout will be the players voting to approve the settlement. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, that vote will take place on Wednesday.
The NFLPA is debriefing both the lead and alternate player representatives from each team on the proposed new collective bargaining agreement. The lead reps for each team are in Washington at NFLPA headquarters. Those representatives not there are taking part in a conference call.
While it's more than just a formality at this point, the best guess is that the players will vote to approve the settlement. They'll need a majority vote and there will be some debate but if NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith recommends the deal, then the players should, too.
That would then put the ball in the owners' court to make their own vote on the deal on Thursday. The owners will need 24 of 32 votes to approve the deal.
It certainly sounds like the NFL lockout is coming to an end. The next big piece of news we're waiting to hear about is whether the players' vote approves the settlement.
We've been treated to stories all week indicating the NFL lockout could be ending very soon. According to reports, the players could vote on the settlement as soon as Wednesday and the owners could do the same on Thursday. If those reports are accurate, and both sides do vote by Thursday, then we could be heading into our first NFL lockout-free weekend since March.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post notes that, while an agreement is expected to be voted on this week, there are still a few loose ends to tie up.
There are still unresolved issues, but few people seem to consider them major obstacles now that the deal is headed to the voting stage.
It would appear that this thing is really happening.
The best-case scenario at this point is that the players vote -- and approve -- the settlement on Wednesday followed by the owners doing the same on Thursday.
As Thursday's estimated deadline looms near, further reports have begun to dribble out regarding the timetable for the next two weeks once a new NFL labor agreement is reached.
According to NFL.com writer Jason La Canfora, the hope is that a new collective bargaining agreement could be reached by Wednesday, after which the plaintiffs in the Brady case would sign off on the deal. The NFLPA would then have to recertify, with roughly 1,900 players receiving ballots to vote on the new CBA.
Following the adoption of a new agreement, teams would receive a brief amount of time to understand the new cap rules and requirements, before free agent activity began on Monday. La Canfora estimates that there will be a 72-hour time period to negotiate and re-sign players, most likely starting Wednesday, before full-blown free agency begins over the latter half of the week.
Amidst the speculation, one interesting development stands out in particular. According to La Canfora, internal reports from cap experts have commented that several low-budget teams will be forced to spend a rather large amount of money before the onset of the season in order to meet the new minimum.
The New York Times notes that the nearly-complete agreement by owners and players to end the NFL Lockout contains compromises on both sides.
The players will receive less revenue - 46 to 48 percent - than they once did, and draftees will receive far smaller deals than in the past. However, the league will allow training camps to be much less intense, as two-a-day practices would become a thing of the past. Also, retired players would receive substantially better benefits (including a boost in pensions, and programs for disabilities).
It appears that training camps will open shortly, and the first NFL preseason game (the Hall of Fame game between the Rams and Bears) will take place August 7, less than three weeks from now. It has often felt like the offseason would never end, but finally, an end is clearly in sight. The next couple weeks will be wild indeed, but it looks like the NFL season will begin on time, almost as if nothing had ever happened.
For more on the NFL Lockout, stay tuned to this storystream.
With all signs pointing to owners and players reaching a settlement to end the lockout on Thursday, the retired NFL players who joined negotiations Tuesday have said that they will not hold up the deal on account of their negotiations. The Los Angeles Times has the details:
"They want to get these games going, and they want to have a season. That's their focus," said Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller, who attended the talks. "Our issues are very, very critical - very important - but they don't really have much to do with whether the game goes on or not."
Sounds good to me. Retired players participated in seven hours of negotiations today, and rumor has it that under the new collective bargaining agreement, $1 billion in benefits would be heading retired players' way, $620 million of which would go to pension increases, long-term care insurance and disability programs. Considering the punishment NFL players take and the devastating impact its proven to have later in life, I'd say that's a good thing.
If I were the players, I'd want more of my money going to my retirement, but I'm not because I'm small and weak.
Another hurdle has been cleared until football comes back. Then the madness will set in.
Over the several days there have been reports that the NFL owners and players are getting very close to a labor agreement that would end the NFL lockout. The details might be different from person to person but the end result seems close.
Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Roddy White appeared on ESPN Tuesday to talk about the lockout and said that he's been told teams are expecting players back at work by the beginning of next week...assuming the deal is done.
I think it'll be done by at least Thursday, cause they want to get everyone in the building by Monday or Tuesday, so, you know, I'm excited. I'm ready to go back to my locker. Just sit back in my locker and just wait for my teammates to walk through the door and handshakes and things like that. Get ready to get on this grind and go out there and win us a Super Bowl.
Various reports have said throughout the day that Colts QB Peyton Manning, Saints QB Drew Brees, Patriots G Logan Mankins and Chargers WR Vincent Jackson are seeking some sort of compensation for being named plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit.
Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being 'that guy'.#douchebags
Assuming he's probably not the only player who feels that way, there was a bit of backlash today and those plaintiffs have surely been hearing about it, publicly or not. So it's not a surprise to hear that at least two of them are backing off their request.
At this point, NL players have been hearing about how the deal is almost done for a while now. Topics like this aren't high on their list of priorities, given the solidarity they've had throughout the process.
While there's still optimism that a deal will be struck to end the NFL lockout sometime this week, we've been treated to several stories on Tuesday that aren't so positive.
Various reports have said that Colts QB Peyton Manning, Saints QB Drew Brees, Patriots G Logan Mankins and Chargers WR Vincent Jackson are seeking some sort of compensation for being named plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit.
As we previously explained, the plaintiffs in the Reggie White lawsuit in 1993, which is similar to this one, were compensated via the fact that the franchise tag couldn't be used on them.
This time around, the players are hoping for something similar (or, in at least one of those players' case, seeking $10 million as part of the settlement).
Apparently, not every NFL player agrees with the idea that those players should receive bonus compensation whether that be through eliminating the franchise tag for them or a cash payout. Chris Kluwe, punter for the Vikings, has taken issues with those players via Twitter:
Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being 'that guy'.#douchebags
He's probably not the only one that feels that way.
It'll be interesting to see if there will be more backlash against those players for requesting special treatment.
Each piece of news coming out of the NFL labor negotiations brings us one step closer to ending the NFL lockout as different issues are resolved. The latest news has several retired players joining with player and owner representatives on Tuesday. This is significant because of their own lawsuit against the owners and players. The retired players have been working to get a bigger piece of the pie in recognition of their contributions in building the game.
Recent developments have the new CBA providing nearly $1 billion in additional benefits to retired players through what is called a Legacy Fund. This includes $620 million in pension increases, long-term care insurance and disability programs. Funding will come from both the players and owners, with the owners providing a slightly larger share.
This was a key issue for DeMaurice Smith who apparently told players before he was elected that "I'm not your guy if you don't fulfill moral obligation." While television money has only greatly increased over the last couple decades, the idea is that long since retired players built this league into what it has become and deserve compensation accordingly.
The players presence at the meetings is likely to secure a final approval on this portion of the CBA as well as work out the details of settling the retired players lawsuit. There are numerous legal actions currently ongoing and each needs to be settled as the sides work towards a global settlement.
The NFL lockout news continues to roll in and for the most part it's positive. It's believed that, in the best-case scenario, the NFLPA will approve a new labor agreement on Wednesday and the owners will follow suit on Thursday, which could open the league for business on Friday.
In yet another sign that the lockout is ending soon, several teams have started announcing dates in which tickets will be on sale.
Though this in itself doesn't mean much, combined with the other signs we've been seeing, it does appear that most are bracing for the lockout to end very soon.
That's good news for the fans. We've been waiting all offseason to hear that a deal is getting closer and now we're being overwhelmed with reports like that. Now we'll see if fans get back into the game and start buying tickets.
The last time the NFL went through something similar to what we're going through now was in 1993 but instead of the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit, it was the Reggie White vs. NFL case. As part of the settlement of that case in 1993, the named plaintiffs were exempt from the franchise tag.
In general, players don't like the franchise tag because they would prefer to get that long-term deal with more guaranteed money.
Apparently, the players are going for something similar this time around. We already heard a Yahoo! Sports report that Patriots G Logan Mankins and Chargers WR Vincent Jackson want to be exempt from the franchise tag and become an unrestricted free agent or receive $10 million as part of the settlement.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reports they're not the only ones looking for something extra as part of the settlement. Bedard reports that Colts QB Peyton Manning and Saints QB Drew Brees also want to be exempt from the franchise tag as part of the settlement.
If this is accurate, it could immediately affect Manning as he's been hit with the franchise tag. Brees' contract expires next season.
Now, it's important to note that the chances of Manning leaving Indy are unlikely at best. The Colts will clearly do anything they can to keep him. But removing the franchise tag and allowing him to enter the open market could provide him some more leverage which would make the Colts prospects of keeping him a little more difficult and a little more expensive.
It's also possible that Manning and Brees simply want to be exempt from the franchise tag moving forward, as NFL Network's Albert Breer notes. This would keep Manning's current tag intact but would prevent the Colts, or any other team, from using it on either player in the future.
Assuming all the issues between the National Football League and NFL Players Association have been resolved, the players may vote to settle the Brady v NFL antitrust case on Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
Members of the NFLPA Executive Committee began arriving Monday at the trade association's headquarters in Washington, D.C. for meetings scheduled on Tuesday. Meanwhile, player representatives from all 32 teams are expected to arrive Washington on Wednesday.
Those player representatives could vote to recommend settling the antitrust lawsuit, at which point it would up to the ten plaintiffs--New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, free agent-turned-retired linebacker Mike Vrabel, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Patriots guard Logan Mankins, Denver Broncos first-round linebacker Von Miller, free agent linebacker Ben Leber, New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison--to agree to end the lockout.
A potential holdup may be plaintiffs seeking certain concessions in agreeing to settle the lawsuit.
One example pertains to the franchise tag, which three plaintiffs--Manning, Jackson, and Mankins--received in February. As part of the 1993 Reggie White settlement agreement, all the plaintiffs were exempt from the franchise tag, an arrangement Jackson and Mankins, who were denied unrestricted free agency during the uncapped 2010 season, may attempt to secure for themselves.
Uh-oh. After several days of complete and utter optimism surrounding the NFL lockout we have a bit of less-than-great news. According to Yahoo! Sports, Patriots G Logan Mankins and Chargers WR Vincent Jackson, both of whom are named plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit against the owners, are seeking compensation.
Yahoo! Sports has learned through multiple sources that the agents for wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Logan Mankins have requested that their players either become unrestricted free agents when the lockout is over or that they receive $10 million each as part of the settlement.
Before you say "What the heck are these guys doing?", understand that there is precedent for this. In 1993, the last time we came to an agreement on a new CBA, the named plaintiffs received some special treatment. As part of that deal, none of the named plaintiffs could be hit with the franchise tag.
Plus, these two have been hampered significantly by the labor rules the last two years. In the uncapped year of 2010, the threshold for free agency moved from four to six years of service time in the league which resulted in both players unable to cash in on free agency. That rule change cost them a lot of money.
So their request isn't totally out of left field. Some have thought the named plaintiffs could do this. The question is whether the league or the players association will honor their request. I can't envision a scenario where the Patriots or Chargers let these guys go. I could, though, see the league or the players paying them that $10 million, or another number close to it.
Only a couple more days until this thing is expected to end so a resolution will ideally come very quickly.
Negotiations to end the NFL lockout have advanced to a point where several teams are reportedly instructing their players to prepare to return to the team facility this weekend. The owners and players are in the final stages of negotiations for a new labor agreement and it's believed that both parties will vote on the agreement by Thursday.
If that's the case, and the lockout ends on Thursday, then Friday is when players could start returning to the team facility. In one of the clearest signs yet that the lockout will be ending this week, some teams have reportedly told their players to prepare to come home this weekend.
TE Jeremy Shockey told a website that he was instructed to return to Charlotte on Friday. PFT reports that the Packers players have been told to prepare to come back to Green Bay on Saturday. I'm sure players on other teams have been told the same.
It's looking more and more like the players and owners will both vote yes on the new labor deal by Thursday and the doors could open on Friday.
It's getting closer, folks. Very close.
Don't expect the NFL lockout to end Tuesday, but pieces are falling into place for it to essentially conclude Wednesday and to be announced as over on Thursday. Adam Schefter reports the players are planning to vote Wednesday on whether to approve the Brady v. NFL settlement, assuming everything else has been ironed out by then.
The Washington Post's Mark Maske has more details about the voting process. The executive committee of players will meet Tuesday, being joined by team representatives the following day. If all goes well, they'll approve the deal that's on the table and reform the NFLPA, with the vote following reformation.
The vote is open to all players, and requires only majority. Players can email in their votes or participate in a conference call. If all goes well, we could be picking apart the NFL's official new collective bargaining agreement before the end of the week.
Over the several days there have been reports that the NFL owners and players are getting very close to a labor agreement that would end the NFL lockout. We've heard these sorts of reports before (maybe not to this extent) so I've been somewhat pessimistic in believing that the lockout is actually ending soon.
That said, we have yet another sign that the lockout will actually be over soon. The Minnesota Vikings previously gave their training camp partner in Mankato a July 18 deadline for camp. That would be the date in which they would have to inform Minnesota State University if they were coming.
The two sides released a joint statement on Monday that said the Vikings decision on camp would be delayed. I would guess that's because the lockout is so close to ending that they want to hold out hope that camp still be conducted in Mankato.
It's another good sign that this lockout will be ending soon.
Amidst news that key team executives for all 32 teams have been told to report to Atlanta on Thursday, NFLPA player representatives are also sending the word out to players. Jeremy Shockey told Busted Coverage he received a text from his agent Drew Rosenhaus telling him to report to Charlotte for a three-day camp this weekend.
It is expected the camp will be a mix of actual workouts and a chance to explain the new CBA to all the players. This is yet another significant sign that the NFL lockout is close to an end. If Shockey received word to report to camp, that would indicate NFL player representatives are confident a deal will be done as they would be the ones passing on word to the rest of the team.
Both sides will need to learn the new rules before free agency gets going as there will be a wide variety of changes from the previous CBA on everything from salary options to drug testing to conduct issues. Executives, players and agents will all have a lot to learn in a very limited amount of time. The ones who learn the most will be the ones who can find the loopholes seen in any contract.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news as we will hopefully have a resolution this week.
In another sign that we're nearing the end of the NFL lockout, the league sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday telling them to send "key executives" to Thursday's owners meetings in Atlanta, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It's believed that, if progress continues to be made on the minor issues remaining in the negotiations, a deal could be voted on by the owners at Thursday's meetings.
The presence of "key executives" -- likely including those from football operations -- is a sign that the owners very well could approve the new labor deal on Thursday.
Indeed, Judy Battista of the New York Times reports that, if the new deal is ratified on Thursday, there would be a labor seminar for those "key executives" shortly after that. This would presumably be a run down of the key parts of the agreement for those that haven't been inundated with the daily negotiations.
If this means what we think it means then it's very good news. All signs are pointing toward the next labor agreement being agreed upon at Thursday's meetings and, if they do that, the process of ending the lockout would begin.
The owners and players coming to a new labor agreement and ending the NFL lockout isn't as easy as signing off on a few papers and getting back to football. There are a couple of court cases remaining -- the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit as well as the TV damages case -- that have yet to be decided and could ultimately delay our return to football.
According to an ESPN report, the owners and players are hoping to work out a "global settlement" that would result in all those cases being dropped if a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
A global settlement would mean that those two cases, along with the retired players' lawsuit and all other legal issues, would be dropped if the players ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to cover the next 10 seasons. That would be the quickest way to get the lockout lifted.
There were reports a few weeks ago that, whenever the lockout ends, it would be another 7-10 days before football can return because of these outstanding court cases. The global settlement would essentially mean a quicker return to football.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Talks between owners and players to end the NFL lockout are on the fast track with a new labor agreement coming as soon as this week, according to various reports. Like any negotiation, each side is giving some concessions to get other things that they want.
For the players, they want more time and less hitting in the offseason in order to keep the game healthier and make their offseason lives less stressful. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports the owners are expected to concede several points regarding practice times.
-Offseason practices may not start until mid-April or later, according to the report. Previously they were allowed to start in March.
-The total number of offseason practices will be nine instead of 14. In addition to that, six of those nine practices will be without helmets.
-Two-a-days during training camp will effectively be eliminated. In their place, teams can run a post-practice walk-through but not another full-blown practice.
The players don't want coaches running them ragged and using as much of their offseason time as possible. Because of the grind of the regular season, I think this is a fair request by the players.
The NFL lockout is nearing its end. Though there hasn't yet been an official "It's over!" we're getting to the point where there's almost nothing standing in the way of getting a deal done. Lawyers for each side will be meeting in New York this week finalizing legal language in the agreement.
Meanwhile, NFL and NFLPA leaders will be meeting in Washington D.C. NFL Network's Albert Breer reports the NFLPA executive committee will be arriving in Washington D.C. and will be meeting through Tuesday.
Arriving on Wednesday will be the player reps for each team. Their presence is note-worthy because they'll be the ones filtering the information down to the rest of the players in the league.
The idea, it seems, is to come to an agreement by Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, NFL owners will vote on the agreement at their meetings in Atlanta, as will the players. If all goes well, that's when the deal goes down.
That's another four days until we have a new labor deal and an end to the NFL lockout but, as we noted, not much is standing in the way of getting that done. It looks like it's going to happen.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
The NFL lockout is finally -- finally! -- almost over. The owners and players will reportedly meet early this week with minor issues remaining on the table but it's widely expected that there are no more deal breakers remaining and a new collective bargaining agreement will be ratified within the next several days.
I've been wondering how fans will react once the lockout is finally lifted. Will we jump for joy despite the last four months? Or will we hold those last four months against the owners and players?
I'm betting on the former. You see, once the lockout is lifted, we're immediately going to be talking about free agency. Teams will have a couple of days to digest the new CBA but for the most part they're going to immediately be preparing for free agency.
The presence of free agency will require our immediate attention, and then training camps open, and then the preseason starts, and then the regular season....we won't have much time to blame the owners and players for the lockout. The season is set up now so that we roll right into free agency and then the season.
So my guess is that there won't be a whole lot of blame for the owners or players after the lockout is lifted. We'll be busy with actual football news (and not court cases and injunctions) and I think most of us would prefer to forget all about the lockout.
As the NFL labor negotiations enter what most hope will be the home stretch, Chris Mortensen reported on the handful of issues left to be resolved at the bargaining table. One issue the owners are fighting for is resolution to a workers compensation claim system that strongly favors the players. NFL players get injured on the job much like any other employee and they have the opportunity to file for workers compensation. The issue that distresses owners is the ability of retired players to forum-shop in hopes of getting the most money in compensation.
As the situation currently stands, California allows retired players to file claims years after they've retired so long as they played at least one game in the state. California allowed such limited contacts with the state as a way of protecting transient workers like truck drivers. Professional athletes have been able to benefit as well.
Players choose to file in California because the state generally provides higher workers comp benefit payouts than many other states. Additionally, the statute of limitations is longer in California, which means players are filing years after they retired. Given the dated injuries involved it is hard for teams to prove the injury is simply an old-age issue more than an on-field injury.
The fight has ended up in court in recent years with teams arguing the issue should be decided by an arbitrator and not a judge. The state of Florida has even gone so far as to pass legislation preventing claims in other states when a Florida resident is a temporary work in said state. Although Florida Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign the legislation into law, it is a safe bet to expect a court battle over the legality of the law.
In the meantime, the owners and players will look to figure out some way to address this issue. Now that the negotiations are in the final days, each side is throwing Hail Mary's hoping to slide through some final demands. Given how late in the process this issue is coming up, it would not appear to be any sort of deal-breaker. The owners may very well concede it in hopes that more states will attempt to pass legislation similar to that in Florida. Or maybe they'll use it as leverage against the players battle for $320 million in unpaid benefits from 2010. These final few pieces of the puzzle can be mixed and matched to determine the final compromise in the final CBA.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this StoryStream.
If the NFL lockout is really going to end within the next three or four days as expected, expect more and more details of the new collective bargaining agreement to trickle out. We've already heard that the NFL's new CBA would impose a $120 million salary cap. The National Football Post's Andrew Brandt reports the cap will also include a "NBA-type" one-year exception, which would give teams the chance to spend $123 million just for 2011.
The salary floor would be based off of the $120 million figure, though, not the $123 million mark. Just pretend that $3 million doesn't really exist -- since it won't, after this season.
That's the report, at least.
Why would players agree to a temporary cap boost instead of lobbying for a permanent $123 million cap? Niners Nation's legal mind David Fucillo speculates it's because players would rather have that then deal with teams still having right of first refusal despite the compacted free agency season. This gives each owner a little bit of wiggle room to let him hang on to a prized veteran while still helping to limit that part of the process to that 72-hour time frame.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this StoryStream.
With the NFL lockout winding down to a whimpering conclusion, the court case, Brady, et al. vs. NFL, that started the legal battle between the owners and the players does need to come to a conclusion to end things. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFLPA has already begun to contact the 10 plaintiffs in the case about coming to a settlement with the league.
Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning were among the highest-profile players who filed lawsuits against the NFL following the imposition of the lockout. Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, was the only rookie brought into the legal battle.
Earlier in the week, Brady, Brees and Manning came out with a statement, telling the public that there was a fair table on the deal and that the owners should take it.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this StoryStream.
How serious is the NFL about returning to Los Angeles? In NFL lockout negotiations, building a stadium in Los Angeles has come up, and there appears to be language in the potential detail directly at bringing a team, and a stadium, to the city. It's not a major hurdle in the talks, but appears to be a piece in the revenue sharing puzzle the two sides are putting together.
The news comes from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who reported some of the details the players and owners have agreed upon. The deal is not complete, nor are any of the details final, but they add up with everything that's been reported thus far.
Under the proposed 10-year CBA, players would get a split ranging from 48 to 46.5 percent of a simplified all-revenue model, the sources said. The lower 46.5 percentage would represent an increase in total dollars as revenues grow from new television contracts, as well as allowing credits if three new stadiums are constructed, including one in Los Angeles, where the NFL has not had a team since the 1994 season.
Simply, the NFL can hand out credits to construct new stadiums, as it has in the past. The league would then receive payments on those credits, paid back by the team after the stadium opens. It's a good deal for owners looking to build a new stadium, and allows the NFL to earn back the credit over time.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this StoryStream.
While the NFL and NFLPA maybe be inching closer to a settlement that will end the NFL lockout, there is still issues to iron-out before finalizing an agreement. The two sides are still in contact over the weekend, choosing to work over the phone and by email instead of in person. And on Monday, they'll be back at the negotiating table with the finish line near, but a special guest will join the proceedings.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the NFL and NFLPA will sit down with Judge Arthur Boylan for negotiations on Monday and Tuesday.
It ain't over til it's over. Filed to ESPN that NFL & NFLPA negotiations necessary Mon and Tues in Wash DC w Judge Boylan. On SC in 7 min
Boylan has presided over mediation sessions between the two sides in an effort to speed up the proceedings and hammer out some of the more difficult stumbling blocks. And while Mortensen opens with "it ain't over til it's over," that may not be the case here. The scheduled mediation sessions could be to iron out a few serious issues, or it could simply be part of the vetting process.
In fact, the scheduled mediation sessions could mean a deal is in place, or nearly in place, requiring Boylan to take a look at the deal and sign off on it. Either way, a deal appears to be imminent and could be voted on as soon as this coming week.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this StoryStream.
The last 48 hours have seen incredible progress as the NFL owners and players work towards a new collective bargaining agreement and an end to the NFL lockout. Thursday evening saw an agreement on a rookie wage scale and Friday saw the owners drop their request for a right of first refusal on veteran free agents. However, Albert Breer sent out a tweet today that could arguably be the most optimistic piece of information thus far.
Sides have no plans for owners & players to meet again unless necessary. Details expected to be worked out via email, phone, thru lawyers...less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyAlbert Breer
We've been told repeatedly that this is down to the details and the major issues have been worked out. Given the developments of the past two days, no further meetings between the owners and players would provide further support. The last few weeks have included days with only lawyers working on language, but those were always followed by more formal bargaining sessions between the two sides.
Although Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are still conversing through the weekend, all reports indicate that even the final significant issues have been settled. One of the final such issues was player concerns surrounding player safety and the culture of the game as it related to organized offseason workouts. Earlier today Chris Mortensen reported on ESPN that there had been some resolution to this matter. It was a "deal-breaker" issue, too, so if there are no more player/owner meetings planned, that would indicate the issue is settled and done.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this StoryStream.
With some sensing the NFL lockout is literally down to its final hours*, excluding various post-agreement steps like ratification and union reformation, ESPN's Chris Mortensen broke down what he calls the most "emotional issue" left for players: safety and quality of life factors related to training camp and practice.
According to Mortensen, players want post-practice opportunity periods -- like the one that injured padless Cleveland Browns rookie James Davis -- to be significantly altered, among other calls for less physical stress during non-game situations.
Others are reportedly worried about sending out players who haven't yet been hardened by grueling practices, hypothesizing that those players would be more subject to injury during games since they haven't had to, uh, battle for their lives every day for an entire summer, or something. Not so sure about that one.
* Mort himself doesn't quite agree with that projection, going with July 22 instead.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this storystream.
Days after DeMaurice Smith had Domonique Foxworth commence Operation Do Your Worst on NFL owners, it sounds like lockout negotiations are proceeding at a brisk pace. Smith and Roger Goodell are supposed to keep talking throughout the weekend, and lawyers pretty much always stay lawyerin'.
One significant detail: ProFootballWeeklyl's Eric Edholm reports fourth-year free agents will be unrestricted under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Under the uncapped system the league had been under, fourth-year players remained restricted.
This isn't a surprise, but it would open up a whole new crop of free agents for teams to fight over, including Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice, who had previously said he'd like to test the waters instead of re-signing with the team that drafted him. Couple that with the report that teams will have 72 hours to lock up their own free agents before those players are up for grabs, and this will almost certainly be the zaniest free agency period ever.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this storystream.
In what is likely to be a sign of the times soon enough, the Philadelphia Eagles are getting a jump start on post-NFL Lockout era by getting. The Eagles are already setting up their facilities at Lehigh University, the site of their training camp, reports Pro Football Talk (via LehighValleyLive.com).
A Lehigh spokesman is going about this as business as usual, while the Eagles are still equivocating on the start of training camp:
"We're trying to be as prepared as possible in the event we go to Lehigh for training camp," Eagles spokesman Derek Boyko said.
Other NFL teams have canceled training camp at away facilities, including the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Giants and the New York Jets. They are all staying home this summer as a result of the lockout.
Even though the Eagles are still taking this step as due diligence even if a lockout wasn't close to ending, there is still much optimism to find in this move.
One of the more contentious proposals from the NFL owners during the labor talks -- once you get past the basics like revenue and a rookie pay scale -- was the idea of right of first reffusal. Essentially, a team would have been able to match any offer for one of that team's free agents from any other suitor. (So if a free-agent Drew Brees got a 5-year, $50 million offer from the Vikings, the Saints could have matched it and kept Brees.)
That's gone now, and it will apparently be replaced by something far more dizzying.
In fact, owners have now abandoned the right of first refusal issue on this year's free agents. They'll have 72-hour period to re-signless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet ReplyChris Mortensen
That's right. Teams will have 72 hours to re-sign any free agents they want to keep. Dozens or possibly even hundreds of players' fates could be decided in three days. At which point, the free-agent market will suddenly be opened and become absolute madness.
Three days of teams scrambling to sign the free agents they want to keep, followed by an explosion of teams trying to get their hands on whatever is left. And you thought the machinations of the lockout were hard to follow.
The NFL owners and players are apparently calling it a week with no agreement in place, but with a statement suggesting they are moving in the right direction. In other words, nothing much has happened aside from rumors that the two sides have agreed to a rookie wage scale, which is obviously not the most pressing issue in the negotiations.
This is basically how it goes when it comes to labor negotiations, though. There's no deal until, well, there's a deal. Usually the sides like to nibble around the edges and find agreements wherever they can, but it's the big meaty stuff that tends to keep anything from actually being signed.
It's certainly a positive that talks are ongoing, but it's probably not worth getting your hopes up that the season has been saved until we get some more concrete statements.
After weeks upon weeks of negotiations in the NFL lockout, talks started moving quickly on Thursday. Friday morning, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com wondered why owners were giving the players what they wanted all of a sudden. What happened?
Well, now we know. The owners just learned that DeMaurice Smith of the NFL Players Association had gotten insurance that would pay each NFL player about $200,000 if the NFL lockout were to result in the cancellation of the 2011 season.
Domonique Foxworth of the Ravens told the owners about the insurance on Thursday, and it seems that the owners realized that ultimately, they were ones who most needed the 2011 season to happen. One source from the players' side says that Smith was simply planning for the future by getting the insurance, rather than buying a trump card to play on the owners later.
"Players Association leadership looked into this as a last possible resort to keep players together in case games would be missed," one players-side source said of the insurance war chest. "It was never intended to be used as a bargaining chip or negotiating point until things became critical."
Still, the insurance may well turn out to have saved the 2011 NFL season. Well played, Mr. Smith.
For more on the NFL lockout, keep following this storystream.
The NFL lockout has gone on long enough, it seems, as the owners and players are creeping eerily close to coming to terms on an agreement that would allow football to start on time this fall.
The economics of a deal between the players and owners are done, according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer, aside from a few small details. The financial details weren't the last major hurdle, but it was a big one that should allow the rest of the issues to crumble rather quickly.
This is the second consecutive day that a major agreement has taken place in the NFL's Collective Bargaining talks as the two sides agreed to terms on the rookie pay scale Thursday evening.
The remaining issues, according to a Thursday report from Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver, should be a "legacy fund" for retired players, franchise and transition tags, the possibility of increasing the 16-game schedule to 18 games along with healthcare and player safety.
Hopefully the ball keeps rolling and the rest of these issues are hashed out soon.
It was just a couple of days ago that QB Drew Brees went on a San Diego radio station and announced that a deal with the owners was "very close". This caused quite a few people, including other players, to douse cold water on the the idea that the two sides were close suggesting that they were in fact not as close as Brees made it sound.
And now here we sit on Friday with reports that the rookie wage scale is, in principle, completed. A deal could be done within 24-48 hours, according to reports.
So what happened? According to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, the owners made concessions on several key topics after some sort of threat from the players.
The question is: what was that thing? What caused the owners to make such grand concessions? I'm told the owners didn't conceede out of the goodness of their hearts. I'm told the players made a threat that scared the hell out of the owners (and I don't think it was court related). But no one will tell me what the threat was.
Interesting. I wonder what the threat was. If it wasn't court-related, I can't figure out what leverage the players would have.
Like many of these situations, the real story may not come out until after this is settled.
The talks to end the NFL lockout made significant progress on Thursday as a group of owners and players reportedly agreed on the basic principles of a rookie wage scale. The two sides have a number of minor issues remaining but it appears we are "on the fast track" to get a deal done, according to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.
We could be hearing the news we've been waiting for all summer -- that the lockout is over -- within 24-48 hours. We've heard that before, so be cautious in assuming it'll get done, but there's certainly a number of reports indicating we've had a breakthrough.
My initial reaction: finally.
It's been over four months since the NFL lockout started and it's completely ruined our NFL offseason leaving us talking about things like a stay, injunctions and other court terms that require a law dictionary. The NFL is perhaps the only sport that has a 365-days-a-year feel to it and that's something they have worked hard to do. Fans are more engaged in the NFL than any other sport.
That's a good thing...when there's labor peace.
When there's a lockout, that's a very bad thing because, even though it's "just" the offseason, it's something we as fans have been looking forward to.
Bring it home, NFL owners and players. We've been waiting for this.
Sal Paolantonio tells ESPN that now that players and owners are in agreement on a rookie pay scale, the two sides are charging toward a resolution of the NFL Lockout.
Critically, the two sides have agreed, for now, to set the salary cap at $120 million in 2011. Some teams currently spend more, so the agreement would allow for a one-player cap exemption.
The talks finished at 10:00 PM Eastern on Thursday and are expected to continue at 9:00 AM Friday. Sources speaking to several ESPN correspondents characterized Thursday's developments as very positive, with one player noting a "sense of urgency" in Thursday's negotiations.
This isn't to say that it's a certainty that the lockout will end soon. Albert Breer, for example, quotes a source telling him that there are still "real stumbling blocks."
But Thursday has to be seen as a huge positive. There are a number of issues that have yet to be resolved, but the two sides took care of two of the biggest ones on Thursday. With the NFL Preseason schedule coming up quickly, there is plenty of incentive for the two sides to reach an agreement and play a full preseason slate. Let's hope negotiations continue to move quickly on Friday.
For more on the NFL Lockout, check out the rest of this storystream.
Ten days after filling an antitrust complaint against the players and the owners, a group of NFL retirees has sent an official letter to the league office, once again asking to become a part of the negotiations. As the two opposing sides inch closer to a new collective bargaining agreement, the demands from the retirees have thus far been met with deaf ears.
Within the letter sent late Thursday afternoon, the group of former players -- led by Hall of Famers Carl Eller, Marcus Allen and Franco Harris -- reference a correspondence they received from Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson which firmly acknowledged that improving retiree benefits and plans were of the utmost importance to the owners.
"Richardson and Murphy admitted that `some former players have struggled financially' and it was incumbent upon the League and owners `to reach a new agreement' to provide the retirees with the well-being they earned,'' the retired players wrote.
"Richardson, Murphy and the League stated `these material improved benefits' were a `top priority' necessary to enhance the quality of life of `the people who made football great,''' the letter read. "To do so, they said, was the `fair' and `right thing' because it addresses the needs of retirees off the field for their having given so much `on the field.'''
Throughout the entire negotiation process, cries have echoed from the retirees claiming that the NFLPA, which currently represents the group, has eschewed their input in favor of specific demands for the current players. As news of the latest collective bargaining agreement nears closure, that feeling of marginalization the former players share may serve as a rather large stumbling block.
One of the major roadblocks in NFL labor negotiations seems to have been cleared, per Adam Schefter:
Filed to ESPN: two sides agreed to new Rookie Pay System. Still i's to dot, t's to cross on rookie system, but it's not impediment to deal.less than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyAdam Schefter
One step closer, my friends. The words "pay scale" mean that the deal will likely try to emulate the NBA's system ... oh, wait. D'oh!
Admittedly, I don't think anyone was particularly worried about this part of the deal getting done. With contracts for top-3 picks garnering tens of millions of dollars in guaranteed money — and rising — everyone agreed this was a broken system. Now some of that money can go to paying veterans, or, my personal preference, toward the NFL pension plan.
Knowing how these labor negotiations have been going so far, the money the owners save will likely just go to catering future meetings.
There's been a lot of back and forth the last couple days regarding the NFL Lockout and how close the owners and players are to a resolution. Thursday's discussions have folks on the optimistic outlook again as the owners reportedly make some "significant concessions."
Owners did make significant concessions in the rookie wage issue, hoping to bring talks closer to a resolution. Management sources indicated that the move saved what could have been two or three days of talks, clearing the way for lawyers to draft language that still could take a significant amount of time.
It appears that both sides are indeed on schulede for the possible resolution next week. Both sides will have a mediation session in Minneapolis, which is expected to be place a handshake could occur and a vote could be scheduled. Whether or not that's July 17, July 19 or July 21 remains to be seen.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news as the season continues to get closer and closer.
There has been quite a bit of speculation that the NFL lockout is nearing its end, most notably from Drew Brees. However, the owners and NFLPA are apparently not as close as has been reported.
It would be in the best interests of the NFL to be able to come to an agreement by July 21, the date of the next owner's meeting, but that might not be a possibility according to Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver.
"Are we close? I wouldn't say that at all," one NFLPA executive committee member told Silver. "Drew is the eternal optimist, and yeah, it's closer than it was a week ago. Could it happen quickly? Yes. But I'd be extremely surprised."
According to Silver, even those on the player's side aren't ready to say fans are any closer to watching football start on time this fall.
"Don't read too much into that," a player told Silver. "We're not there yet, and there are still a lot of issues in play."
Issues still on the table, according to Silver's sources, are the rookie wage scale, the splitting of revenue, a "legacy fund" for retired players, franchise and transition tags, the possibility of increasing the 16-game schedule to 18 games along with healthcare and player safety.
Those issues all seem to be big deals, too, so it seems like Brees may have been speaking a bit too soon.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark recently appeared on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan to discuss teammate Hines Ward's recent DUI and a kerfuffle with Ravens running back Ray Rice over comments about the incident. And at the end of the interview, Clark did discuss what is hanging up negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
While some reports have claimed that a rookie wage scale is the only thing holding up a new deal, Clark clears the air and says there's more to it than that:
If that was the only issue, we’d have a deal done today. I can say that. There’s still a lot of things. When I say a lot of things, I don’t want it to be like ‘Ryan Clark said it’s not even close.’ We’re definitely closer today than we ever have been.
Clark doesn't specify what else is at issue, but he does admit that reporters from ESPN and elsewhere do need to report something and that they'll pick up anything their sources tell them. But don't fear, because Clark does believe there will be football in the fall.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Good news, NFL fans. Someone in the know claims that the NFL lockout talks are getting to the point where the two sides are "very close to a settlement." Drew Brees joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego on Wednesday and provided some optimism for NFL fans.
"We're very close to a settlement," Brees said on XX Sports Radio in San Diego. "We're at that point in the negotiations where there's just a few more details that need to be ironed out."
Among those details are the split of the over $9 billion in revenue and the rookie wage scale. Reportedly, discussions of the revenue split are nearing its final stages. The rookie wage scale remains one of the last big hurdles but the two sides have made significant progress over the last two weeks, Brees says.
Brees is involved in the talks and is one of the named plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL case. He knows what's going on so I think his words, more than others, mean something.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news, where out next update is hopefully announcing more optimism that a deal is done soon.
On Wednesday, three high-profile NFL players -- QB Tom Brady, QB Peyton Manning and QB Drew Brees -- released a statement to the AP indicating that now is the time for the owners and players to come to an agreement on a new labor deal and end the NFL lockout.
The NFL has responded to the statement from the three Brady vs. NFL plaintiffs with their own statement.
"We share the view that now is the time to reach an agreement so we can all get back to football and a full 2011 season. We are working hard with the players' negotiating team every day to complete an agreement as soon as possible."
We want to get a deal done...blah, blah...We're working hard to get it done...blah, blah...We need to get back to football...blah, blah.
We've heard it all before -- from both the owners and players -- and it's starting to fall on deaf ears. The NFL is a results-oriented business and the only positive result that's out there is to end the NFL lockout.
What these guys say matters very little. It's what they do is important. The next step is do a deal that ends the lockout.
The NFL lockout is expected to end within the next couple weeks and when it does there are five things every team will need to do to prepare for the 2011 season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, along with owners and players, will meet on Wednesday as they continue negotiations to come to an agreement on a new labor deal and end the NFL lockout.
Momentum over the last few weeks has been generally positive with several key sticking points, like the revenue split and the rookie wage scale, still being finalized.
"We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done."
The statement continued: "This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way."
Like most statements released by the players and owners, this one is aimed at winning the public relations battle. The players want to put pressure on the owners to do a deal as quickly as possible that will put the players back to work and ultimately get them paid.
Will it work? We can only hope.
Joel Thorman wrote on Tuesday that estimations of the target date for the resolution of the NFL Lockout include ... well, really, anytime in the 10 days. Well, following the close of negotiations on Tuesday, Albert Breer of NFL.com wrote that he hears the target date is July 21.
Sources said the league's objective is to have a completed deal July 21 to present to the larger group at an owners meeting in Atlanta. But the owners and players still have work to do in solving significant issues such as the rookie salary system and funding for retirees' benefits.
Breer's reporting on the lockout has really been the best available anywhere, but with so many working parts and disputed topics, any target date is bound to be a mere estimation.
Representatives of the players and owners have to meet before a judge next Tuesday, so the idea is that they would like to have the groundwork for an agreement in place by then. That could happen, of course, but the lockout has now been going on for four months, but I would wait to hear about a breakthrough in the negotiations before getting too optimistic.
For more on the NFL Lockout, check out this storystream.
Depending on who you ask, the target date to end the NFL lockout and start the 2011 NFL season is either July 15, 17 or 21. All three dates have been thrown about in recent weeks as possible deadlines to get a deal done.
Within the last few weeks, July 15 has been the most popular "deadline" for the NFL lockout. It's said that the two sides need to come to a labor agreement by then or else the Rams and Bears are in danger of not only starting training camp on time, but also playing the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7.
This week ESPN came out with a report that everyone's been citing that says July 21 is the target date to get a deal done. That would cause only minor delays in the start of training camp and free agency could be hitting seven days later.
Now the latest target date for the NFL lockout is July 17, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Sit tight...it should only be a couple of more days (or hours) before we have the latest target date.
Last week the plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL case -- otherwise known as the NFL lockout antitrust lawsuit -- held a conference call with, among others, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. The call was an update of sorts on the status of the negotiations with the owners and not much new information was revealed.
On Tuesday, there will be another conference call with the plaintiffs. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the call is expected to update them on where the talks currently stand.
It's not believed a deal is imminent so the fact that the plaintiffs are involved in the call doesn't necessarily mean a deal is coming. Like with most of the calls involving players, I wouldn't be surprised if the contents of the discussion leaked.
Lawyers for each side met on Monday and Tuesday as they continue to hammer out the legal language in the next labor agreement. On Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, as well as other owners and players, will return to the table. That's when the real negotiations will continue in the hopes that they can come to an agreement to end the lockout.
The biggest impediment at the moment appears to be the rookie wage scale. The owners of course want to keep the players under contract as long as possible, while bringing down the total dollars paid to draft picks, and the players want to get the rookies to free agency within four years.
Of course, we're hoping that's when they kick off the season. The NFL lockout is still in effect which would block any preseason games from being played. The two sides are reportedly making progress but there has to be a date that officially kills the Hall of Fame game. July 22? Aug. 1? Aug. 5? We're not sure what it is but it's sometime between now and the start of the game on Aug. 7.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Chicago Tribune that they don't have a deadline date set up yet, or at least one they're not announcing yet.
"We have not identified a date by which we have to have an agreement to save the Hall of Fame Game," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Chicago Tribune. "Time is admittedly running short, however."
We'll see what happens but it's not like the lockout can be solved on Aug. 6 and these two teams can line up and play on Aug. 7. That's not the way it works. So i would guess the deadline to play that game comes sometime around the last week in July.
Lawyers for NFL owners and players met on for five hours on Monday and they'll get back together on Tuesday as they continue to hammer out details of the next labor agreement. After the lawyers on Monday and Tuesday, the owners and players will rejoin the table on Wednesday.
I'm sure the two sides are putting in a lot of work and when they're not meeting face-to-face they're doing other work aimed at ending the NFL lockout. But from my vantage point it certainly doesn't seem like they're busy. They met last Friday and waited five more days before meeting again.
The clock is ticking. The deadline to save the first preseason game could be days away. The Rams and Bears line up on Aug. 7 for the first exhibition game of the year and some are already talking as if it's not a big deal if that game is sacrificed. In the long run, it's not a huge deal but each side should be doing whatever they can to avoid that scenario.
This Friday will be July 15, which is one of those artificial deadlines a lot of media folks have been pointing to. The following week, on July 22, the Rams and Bears will open the first training camp of the year so that's more of a hard deadline to get a deal done, allow them to open training camp and then prepare for some sort of free agency period.
So Tuesday is another lawyer day and the principals will get back to the table on Wednesday.
On Monday, the rookie wage scale made an appearance in the NFL lockout negotiations, perhaps signaling the end of the work stoppage is near. For months, the NFL and NFLPA have been arguing over revenue sharing proposals, focusing largely on how billions of dollars would be split in a new collective bargaining agreement. The discussion shifted this week, and reports began to surface indicating a revenue sharing agreement may have occurred.
According to a USA Today report, it appears the rookie wage scale debate wasn't much of a disagreement at all. Instead, both sides seem to agree that something needs to be done to cut down on bloated contracts for players taken early in the NFL Draft.
While the two factions have not agreed on much since the lockout began in March, they appear to be in accord on one thing — a rookie salary structure that eliminates enormous guaranteed contracts for top draft selections.
One example, according to an ESPN report citing people familiar with the negotiations: A No. 1 overall draft pick would earn $34 million in five years, including a team option for the fifth season. In the current system, that number could be $78 million through six seasons.
The cut would be roughly 50 percent, a significant change from the present deal. The trade-off, however, is the length of the contract. Players would likely be able to sign a second contract after their fourth year in the league, allowing players outside of the first round to capitalize on their successes. It minimizes risk for the owners and maximizes potential future earnings for the players, especially for some of the more unheralded players that quickly make a name for themselves with their performance on the field in the NFL.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news as the season continues to get closer and closer.
Over the past several weeks we've been treated to reports that the NFL owners and players are getting closer on a labor agreement to end the NFL lockout. Though a deal hasn't been struck yet, it's generally accepted that the two sides are closer now than they were last month.
That said, one NFL player told Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com that fans shouldn't believe the hype surrounding the lockout right now.
"That's not true," the player said. "All that is hype coming from the owners side to try and put pressure on us to do a deal. They want to make us look bad. It's simply not true. There is a lot of work to be done. They are not close."
The owners are generally more effective at getting their message out because they have 32 public relations staffs that deal with the media in all NFL cities so from a sheer numbers standpoint they can get their side of the story out quicker and more effectively than the players.
Check out Prisco's blog post for the full story -- and for the player's "drop your nuts" comment to Goodell -- but suffice to say not all players are on board with the idea that a deal can be done in 10 days or less, as reports have suggested.
The NFL lockout continues to roll along with deadlines like training camp and the preseason looming. Already, three teams have decided to abandon traveling for camp and deciding to stay home due to the uncertainty. The latest report from ESPN indicates a couple of important nuggets.
First, the players feel they've made significant concessions and may have reached their limit.
However, one member of the players' negotiating team who has been a constant presence at the table said that players feel they have made significant concessions and overtures "that have not been reciprocated."
The two sides are very close so feeling as if you've reached your limit on compromise is to be expected. Let's hope those limits won't preclude the two sides from coming to an agreement.
Second, the latest key dates in the negotiations are the talks on Wednesday and Thursday with the owners and players returning to the table.
He stated that negotiations Wednesday and Thursday will be the most telling days on whether an agreement indeed will be finalized within the July 21 time frame because "we've basically reached the limits of compromise."
These are all indications that the two sides are close to a deal. It's been reported that a handshake agreement is possible sometime this week so we're hoping that the key parts of Wednesday and Thursday include coming to an informal agreement on a new CBA.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news as the season continues to get closer and closer.
NFL players and owners have been making more progress in the last several weeks and it's gotten to the point where there are just a couple of key issues remaining, namely the rookie wage scale. As the two sides figure out the details of the rookie wage scale, ESPN reports that the key date in the NFL lockout right now is July 21.
There are league meetings in Atlanta on July 21 which is part of the reason for that date. 24 of the league's 32 owners have to approve of the new CBA.
As one NFL owner said this weekend, there's "no reason to believe it won't get done."
Other people familiar with the talks now think an agreement in principle will be put in place in the next seven to 10 days, a handshake deal that would allow each side to ratify the deal to start the 2011 season.
July 21 is when the two sides are hoping they could realistically come to an agreement. Supporting that idea is the presence of a document called "The Transition Rules" which is basically a guide for every team in making the transition from the NFL lockout back to the start of the league year, according to ESPN's report.
Under "The Transition Rules" it appears the goal is to ratify a deal by July 21 and open free agency on July 28. Though things would be hectic with training camp starting at the end of July, it would allow preseason games to go on as scheduled.
So it appears most feel a deal will get done and it will get done in time to save preseason.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
There's nothing like welcoming back an old friend. Locked-out NFL players and the National Football League will resume negotiations Monday morning, and according to the New York Times' Judy Battista will be circling back to an item that most had sort of assumed had already been settled: the rookie wage scale. Hello again, rookie wage scale.
As far back as March, the NFLPA had conceded to trimming first-round rookie pay after the two sides basically agreed on the need to control rookie wages. However, in that March 19 letter Kevin Mawae and fellow players sent to Roger Goodell, players alleged the following:
Your rookie compensation proposal went far beyond addressing any problem of rookie "busts," and amounted to severely restricting veteran salaries for all or most of their careers.
Two ways to look at it: either talks have fallen back all the way to the beginning, or the two sides are tying up loose ends as they near a complete deal. Which do you think is more likely?
The NFL and NFLPA will take part in a formal mediation session on July 19, according to a report on Saturday morning. While the owners and players have made progress, the mediation session, ordered by Judge Arthur J. Boylan, is meant to update the court on the progress of the talks, though the work could be done by then. The two sides have been voluntarily negotiating as of late and clear progress has been made, according to reports from the meetings.
Judge Boylan wants the players and owners back at his mediation table as a safety net, it seems. Boylan is taking a hands-on approach in an effort to hammer out some of the smaller details that have been holding up talks.
Boylan ordered both sides to continue mediation without him "in an effort to define and narrow the differences between their respective settlement positions." He also ordered attorneys from both sides to be ready to meet with him on the evening of July 18 "for an in-person agenda-setting session" that presumably would set the stage for meaningful, fruitful talks the following day.
The hope is this mediation session won't be needed. Though progress has been slow as of late, there has been progress in the talks and the two sides may be close to some sort of an agreement. Lawyers are working on the language in advance of any agreement to expedite the process with a deadline to save training camp looming, but the next two weeks are a critical time.
The bottom line: If the mediation session is needed, the NFL is in serious jeopardy of losing at least part of training camp and the exhibition slate.
Stay with this StoryStream for more NFL lockout news as it becomes available.
Friday morning saw the Eighth Circuit somewhat unexpectedly release their opinion in Tom Brady v. NFL even as the players and owners slog through negotiations. The court vacated Judge Nelson's ruling that the lockout was illegal and remanded the case to her for additional proceedings. The Eighth Circuit was expected to rule in favor of the owners if a decision came down but many people felt a decision would continue to be delayed while the two parties continued negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.
The owners and players issued a joint statement declaring that the court ruling would not change the state of negotiations. Prior to this decision both sides were feverishly working towards a deal in part because neither side knew who would get the most leverage in a decision. Following the release of the decision (PDF), the court's reasoning and actions should leave neither side comfortable with the long term implications of a continued lockout.
The court ruled for the owners by stating that the Norris-LaGuardia Act prevents federal courts from issuing injunctions during labor disputes to end work stoppages. The owners were successful in part because the court agreed that the players could not simply turn the key with decertification and end the lawsuit. The court's ruling does not address whether the decertification is legitimate because that is a labor law issue that would be ruled on by the National Labor Relations Board.
The district court decision focused in part on the need for unionization among employees for Section 13(a) of the Act to apply. The Court of Appeals disagreed because employees may engage in activities for the purpose of mutual aid and protection even without the existence of a union. While the NFLPA decertified, the labor dispute did not simply end at the drop of a dime.
While the court would not enjoin the lockout against current NFL players, the same did not hold true for current veteran free agents and rookies. The court ruled that the court could enjoin the NFL when it comes to veteran free agents and rookies because they are considered non-employees at this time. However, in order to enjoin the NFL with regards to these particular players, the district court has to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine harm to the parties. The court remanded the case to the district court to conduct such a hearing.
The implication of this is that if the court finds sufficient harm to veteran free agents and rookies, the league could be required to negotiate with free agents and rookies even as the lockout continues. This could lead to players signing contracts and then immediately being locked out because they have joined the ranks of the employees. The problem at this point is the amount of time that would be involved in getting the hearing scheduled and conducted, and then dealing with an inevitable appeal on the results of the hearing.
There was also a long term implication of the ruling. Since the court ruled the lockout legal based on the Norris-LaGuardia Act, it did not address whether the nonstatutory labor exemption provided the NFL with immunity from the underlying Brady v. NFL antitrust lawsuit. This means that without a settlement and new CBA, down the road the lockout could be ruled illegal and the league could find itself staring down the barrel of a multi-billion verdict for the players.
These two separate issues should hopefully keep the players and owners on the straight and narrow and working as hard as they can to get a CBA and settlement of Brady v. NFL. There are still significant problems facing both sides if a deal is not reached, which should be the necessary motivation to get it done.
While we respect the court's decision, today's ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come and allow for a full 2011 season.
The NFL lockout ruling from the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is in and it favors the league as the courts ruled that the lockout is legal and can remain in place. This doesn't change a whole lot at the moment because since March 11 we've been operating as if the lockout is in place (with the exception of a brief few days in April when the lockout was lifted).
But it does give the owners some leverage now that they know they can keep the lockout in place for the time being. And of course the owners biggest leverage is enforcing the lockout until the players miss paychecks and crumble. The two sides are in negotiations this week so the obvious question is how the league will use its leverage.
Peter King of SI.com tweets that he doesn't expect NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to hold this ruling over the players' heads.
I don't think Goodell will allow owners to step on players' throats w/8th Circ ruling. He has to know how dangerous that'd be.
Indeed, it would be dangerous -- and potentially costly. The owners can keep the lockout in place and gain some leverage but they would also be losing significant preseason money -- reportedly to the tune of about $200 million per week the lockout is in place during the preseason.
Albert Breer of NFL Network is one of those who thinks this ruling could actually help in coming to an agreement.
After running this 8th Circuit ruling by a few people ... I think it might actually ramp up urgency to do a deal now.
Let's hope so.
The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has made their ruling and determined that the NFL lockout is legal. The ruling isn't completely unexpected as that's the end result many of us expected but what is surprising is the timing of it all.
Over five weeks ago when the two sides went before the Eighth Circuit to state their case as to why the NFL lockout is legal (NFL's argument) and why it's illegal (NFLPA's argument), the courts said it would be in each side's best interest to come to their own agreement before they make a ruling because it would be a ruling neither side liked.
Ultimately, though, the ruling shouldn't matter. Sure, the NFL now has some more leverage in the negotiations with the players but what does that leverage get them? They can keep the lockout in place?
That's not an ideal scenario for either side. The NFL can keep the lockout in place and use their leverage but it will ultimately hurt them because the real issue is coming to an agreement that would preserve the preseason and the approximately $800 million in revenue that comes with it.
It should also be noted that, while the league gained some leverage here, the players' antitrust lawsuit still lingers. It's unclear when a ruling could come down on that but, as we noted, it would be best if the two sides came to an agreement on their own before that ruling.
We've been waiting for the Eighth Circuit to rule on the NFL lockout but many figured that wouldn't come as the two sides continued to make progress in their own negotiations on a new labor agreement to end the NFL lockout.
Well, that was wrong. The decision from the Eighth Circuit is in and it favors the league ruling that the NFL lockout is legal.
The timing is very surprising because it could derail the negotiations between the owners and players. The two sides had reportedly been making progress on a new labor deal so we're hoping that this ruling doesn't disrupt the strides they've been making. Unfortunately, it very well could. Now that the league knows they can legally lock the players out, they may have gained some serious leverage.
The ruling went 2-1 with Judge Bye dissenting, as he did in the stay to keep the lockout in place over a month ago. The ruling itself -- going in favor of the NFL -- isn't unexpected. That's what many figured would happen. The surprise comes from the timing of the ruling as the owners and players are closer than they've ever been to coming to an agreement.
Let's hope the two sides continue negotiations and the league doesn't use the leverage they just gained.
NFL players and owners will meet again on Friday as they continue to try to hammer out a labor agreement so that the NFL lockout can end. Lawyers for each side met on Tuesday and Wednesday and the main parties returned on Thursday.
That would include the two main men from each side, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. The two sides met for over 12 hours on Thursday and they're back at it again on Friday
For the players it's Kevin Mawae, Pete Kendall, Sean Morey, Domonique Foxworth, Charlie Batch and Jeff Saturday, as well as Smith. For the owners, it's Chiefs' Clark Hunt, Giants' John Mara, Steelers' Art Rooney and Cowboys' Jerry Jones, as well as Goodell.
The main issue continues to be -- what else -- the money. The two sides are said to be making strides on the revenue split, which is the main sticking point right now. While there are other issues involved, it's believed that, once the money issue is figured out, the rest will be able to fall into place more smoothly.
On Saturday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who has been involved in the talks, will go on vacation so there's some urgency to get a deal done quickly. Many believe it's still possible a deal is done by next week. Once a handshake deal is done, it will then be up to the lawyers and courts to include all the details and finalize the paperwork, a process which could take up to 10 days.
Optimism is rising that the NFL lockout may be reaching an end. Reportedly, NFL owners and the players held talks throughout Thursday, and could be closing in on the deal that football fans have been hoping for. After the talks, renown agent Leigh Steinberg felt that he saw enough understanding from the meetings to declare that a new collective bargaining agreement would be agreed upon within a week.
"In the middle of a gold rush, no one wants to be the party that kills the golden goose," Steinberg said. "Players' salaries are at an all-time high. Revenues are at an all-time high. The NFL is America's passion.
"The good old days in football economics are right now."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL players association executive director DeMaurice Smith recommenced direct negotiations on Thursday after legal teams from both sides spent the previous two days writing up several chief principals of the new agreement. After which, the players union held a conference call that updated the primary plaintiffs of the progress. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Logan Mankins, Osi Umenyiora, and Broncos rookie Von Miller were said to be in on the call.
With training camps set to start just weeks from now, time is running short for the two sides. Should these latest developments crumble, it's likely that the NFL would be forced to abandon its lucrative plans for the 2011-2012 preseason.
The NFL Lockout won't just affect the owners and the players. It will also affect thousands of local businesses that rely on NFL games to provide income and opportunity. With that in mind, New York's attorney general is launching an inquiry into whether the National Football League lockout violates the state's antitrust law.
"The expected blow to the state's economy will be tremendous," the head of Schneiderman's antitrust bureau said in a letter this week alerting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to the probe.
"Many New York public and private institutions depend heavily on the NFL training camp and regular season games to generate revenue," Assistant Attorney General Richard L. Schwartz told Goodell. Hotels, restaurants, retailers, transportation systems and thousands of New Yorkers working at concession stands, parking lots and stadiums will suffer, he wrote.
The NFL's response? "We will review the letter with our attorneys and then respond to the assistant attorney general."
Of course, if the lockout ends shortly, the inquiry is moot. And most believe this move is meant as just one more impetus to make sure that happens sooner than later.
Stay with this StoryStream for more NFL lockout news as it becomes available.
The NFL lockout rolls on in its fourth month and we have yet to see the headline that a labor agreement is imminent. The two sides -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with five owners, and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, along with five players -- met in New York on Thursday where negotiations will continue.
While there remains a focused approach toward completing a labor deal between the NFL and its locked-out players in the near future, finalization of one Thursday is close to impossible, sources close to the negotiations told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.
It still is expected that negotiations will spill into early next week to achieve a "done deal," the sources said. Even with progress, there are unresolved issues that require further negotiations.
So we continue to wait.
Though it seems as if we've been waiting forever, we haven't yet hit a true deadline. For the last few weeks, July 15 has been pegged as a soft deadline in order for the Rams and Bears to open training camp on time on July 22. Most other teams open camp the following week.
Lately, though, some have been suggesting that it's possible that the Hall of Fame game between the Rams and Bears on Aug. 7 could be sacrificed. There are 65 total preseason games with the Hall of Fame game being the first so if they lost one game it wouldn't be catastrophic like it would if they lost the entire preseason.
The 10 plaintiffs involved in the antitrust lawsuit against the league have been contacted to conduct a conference call on Thursday evening, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. We're not sure what this means but here are a couple of options.
First, it could just be an update to what's going on with the negotiations between the owners and players. Various player reps have been in on conference calls throughout the process receiving updates so maybe it's simply an update call.
Second, and what we hope is the case, it could be to sign off on a settlement that's reached, or close to being reached. It doesn't appear as if a handshake deal is imminent so I'm not sure if this is the case, but getting these players ready to approve of a settlement is a good sign that the two sides are getting closer, if that's indeed what this call is about.
We should find out soon the progress of Thursday's talks, as well as what this conference call is about.
By the way, the 10 players as plaintiffs in the case are: New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson, Minnesota Vikings LB Ben Leber and DE Brian Robison, Patriots G Logan Mankins, New York Giants DE Osi Umenyiora, Kansas City Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel, and Denver Broncos LB Von Miller
It's been previously reported that one of the unspoken deadlines in the NFL lockout was July 15 because that would give some time for teams to have a short free agency period before training camps start. The first camp starts on July 22 for the Rams and Bears, who play in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7.
According to Don Banks of SI.com, some folks on the inside of the NFL lockout may be thinking the Hall of Fame game could be sacrificed in the event of a lockout.
While it has been presumed that the two sides would have to have a deal in place by July 15 in order to play the entire preseason schedule, it is now thought that only the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame Game between the Rams and Bears would have to be sacrificed if an agreement came together as late as July 22.
There are 65 total preseason games as the Rams and Bears will actually play five preseason games due to the Hall of Fame game. Sacrificing just that game would preserve 64 of the league's 65 preseason games. An NFL spokesman recently said that the preseason generates approximately $800 million in revenue so missing just one game wouldn't be as devastating as missing them all.
So it's possible the new deadline for the NFL lockout could be July 22. Most camps open the following week so, if an agreement comes around that time, it's possible just one game would be missed and, even then, the Bears and Rams would still be playing four preseason games like the rest of the league.
Stay here for more NFL lockout news.
Lawyers for the NFL and NFLPA have been meeting in New York for labor negotiations on Tuesday and Wednesday but it's now time for the real power players to re-enter the room. On Thursday and Friday, the NFL lockout talks will again include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as five owners, and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, as well as five players.
As Don Banks of SI.com notes, the meetings between Goodell and the owners and Smith and the players is when actual progress is made.
That's a very positive sign, because it's the six-on-six, face-to-face formula that has resulted in most of the progress that has been made in these talks, with the principles in one room, and the lawyers and accountants for both sides meeting in a separate room. Reflecting the mounting sense of urgency on both sides, this set of talks is scheduled to continue indefinitely if progress is being made. No more weekend breaks are expected unless negotiations founder.
And then there's the fact that the mediator, Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, is going on vacation on Saturday, which is even more of a reason to wrap this thing up very soon. That doesn't mean they can't do a deal without him but it should be a reason for urgency on both sides so as not to disrupt any momentum in the talks.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Reports on Monday stated that a sector of retired NFL players filed their own anti-trust complaint against both the current players and the owners, saying that the retirees felt their voices were not being heard at the bargaining table. The general sentiment surrounding the startling announcement questioned how the newest development would impact the already fragile state of negotiations.
Now, it appears, the group's claim -- led by Carl Eller and Franco Harris -- can be attributed directly to a quote from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
The Eller plaintiffs quote Bress as saying: "There's some guys out there that have made bad business decisions. They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They've had a couple divorces and they're making payments to this place and that place. And that's why they don't have money. And they're coming to us to basically say, 'Please make up for my bad judgment."
While Brees was a functioning contributor in the mediation sessions that were held before the NFL's labor deal expired, he removed himself from the negotiations once the messiness began. Though he has mentioned that he would likely return to the ongoing talks, it has not happened yet.
Regardless, it seems that both sides have a valid point here. Brees is probably, at least partially, correct in his assumption that some of the retirees are chasing this route because of a lifetime of bad financial decisions. Still, the idea of that the players of the present possess some form of moral obligation towards the players of the past is quite valid. Without those that paved the way, the lavish salaries and revenues that the league now enjoys would not exist.
As it is with everything lockout-related, the best option would likely fall within some sort of middle-ground that can keep the less-financially challenged retirees out of trouble, while still not cutting to deep into the pockets of those that currently risk their health and well-being on a daily basis.
There have been any number of unforeseen twists and turns in the soap opera that the NFL lockout has become. Now, we have a new one. It seems like the mediator in the case has something better to do starting Saturday. He's going on vacation.
Putting more pressure on the negotiators, U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks, is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday, sources said. But both sides are committed to stay in New York this weekend to try to finish the deal. The sides did not get together on weekends during negotiations the past month.
Of course, there's nothing saying that the sides can't strike a deal even if the mediator is gone fishin', and in fact negotiators are saying they're going to try to do that. But it does leave one less avenue for resolving things if talks blow up -- and the path of the lockout so far has told us that expectations aren't always the best guide for what happens next.
Ah, the ups and downs of the NFL lockout coverage. One day, the two sides are nearing a deal that could be done within days and then the next day something has gone wrong and the talks are in danger of falling apart.
If you've been following the day-to-day coverage of the work stoppage, like we have, then it's hard to keep your head on straight with all of the conflicting stories.
But despite some of the doom and gloom of the reported slow progress being made, it's still possible a handshake deal is done by early next week, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Lawyers for the two sides met on Tuesday and will do so again on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, the owners and players, as well as the two principals, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, will reconvene to continue the negotiations.
Talks would extend into the weekend if there's enough progress Thursday and Friday. A handshake deal by early next week could be possible.
Maske also notes that, once a handshake agreement is reached, it could take 10-12 days to sort out all the details and return to football. So let's say a handshake agreement is reached by next Monday, July 11. That would mean free agency could potentially start by July 21 -- one day before the Rams and Bears open the first training camp of the year.
The problem with following the NFL lockout is that there are so many people involved on each side -- and so many of those people are sources of information for the media -- and they all have their own viewpoint of how the talks are going.
That's a large reason why, on one day, you have Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports writing that "the two sides are closer to an agreement than many people realize" and then just a couple of days later, on Tuesday evening following the first set of meetings between the lawyers this week, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reports there wasn't much progress and the first week of the preseason is in jeopardy right now.
Oh, and on top of all that, Redskins officials have said to the media that they believe a deal is coming by this Sunday.
So who to believe?
That's the difficult part. There are so many people involved in the labor talks -- Roger Goodell, owners, NFL lawyers, DeMaurice Smith, players and NFLPA lawyers -- that everyone has a different interpretation of where the talks stand.
It's important to keep in mind that, for the last several weeks, folks have identified July 15 as an important date in the talks. That's a week before the first training camp is expected to open and it's believe to be one of the final days to do a deal before it starts to affect the first preseason game on Aug. 7.
USA Today has a great summary of potential paths to resolution of the NFL Lockout. The number of possible scenarios is headache-inducing, but here's what it comes down to:
Players could reach an agreement with owners and drop their suit against the league. Or, the two parties could settle the suit, with the court looking on. The former option seems more likely, since the court wouldn't have to be involved. Attorney Matthew Cantor, who's quoted in the article:
"The players could dismiss the class action voluntarily, and they can enter into a collective bargaining agreement outside of the court process," says Cantor.
Another potential path toward the end of the lockout has to do with an antitrust lawsuit filed by several NFL players. Judges involved with that suit could make a decision that would end the lawsuit.
A group of former players' class-action complaint against both players and owners could complicate matters, however. These players are arguing that both parties are reducing the value of the pensions for retired players by continuing to haggle over the amount of money paid to current players. If current players and owners are able to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the former players could sue to stop it.
It looks like these next few weeks could be filled with more twists and turns as players and owners continue to work out an agreement.
Stay with this StoryStream for more NFL lockout news as it becomes available.
It seems as though everyone has an opinion on when the NFL lockout will end. There was a time in April when it was over for a few days, only to be put back into place. There were some folks in the know that I spoke with who suggested we could be hearing a resolution by the end of June.
It's now the first week of July so obviously those predictions have been wrong to this point. The latest opinion on the end of the lockout is coming from Washington D.C.
Chris Russell of ESPN 980 in D.C. wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning that, in talking with Redskins officials, he felt an end to the lockout was coming soon. Shortly after that, Rich Tandler of RealRedskins.com wrote:
In fact, there is talk in the Redskins organization that there will be a resolution this week and that the lockout will end Sunday.
That's this Sunday, July 10.
That would be a nice surprise. Time will tell if these Redskins officials are correct.
It was believed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith would be meeting on Tuesday with their respective legal teams as labor talks continue to end the NFL lockout.
As it turns out, though, Goodell and Smith won't be joining the table until Thursday. Lawyers for each side will be working on the language of the deal on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, without Goodell and Smith.
There's no substitute for face-to-face negotiations but a labor agreement of this magnitude requires plenty of lawyers so, as Mort suggested, this is simply part of the process. It doesn't mean a deal is done -- reports say we're still a minimum of several days away from that -- but a labor agreement involving over $9 billion per year will unfortunately require the presence of lawyers at times.
Reports last week said other owners and players would also re-join the table on Thursday but it remains to be seen if that's still the case.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
The NBA lockout began last week as David Stern decided Roger Goodell shouldn't have all of the fun. The NFL lockout has gone on since March. How are the stoppages similar and different?
What would no football in 2011 feel like?
I bet it would be sort of like waking up on Tuesday morning after the Fourth of July weekend. You don't want to get out of bed and re-enter a world without a constant stream of fireworks. (OK, not exactly like that but you get the idea.)
The good news is that, for some folks in the know, football will likely be back in 2011. We can't say that for sure but the two sides will get back together this week for more talks in an effort to end the lockout. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, along with their respective legal teams. On Thursday and Friday, owners and players will re-enter the room for more talks.
The goal, of course, is to come to a labor agreement and end the NFL lockout.
This week's schedule will be similar to last week when Goodell and Smith met for a couple of days before other owners and players re-entered the room. There were bumps in the road last week with reports of the two sides still having difficulty figuring out how to split the money but it seems that there were a few positive breakthroughs in a midnight session on Thursday.
The deal isn't done -- yet -- and it may not come at all. But the two sides are continuing to talk which is about all we can ask for at this point.
According to reports out of San Antonio, the Dallas Cowboys have tentatively scheduled to begin team camp June 29th at the Alamodome. The Cowboys have been unable to secure an official timetable as a result of the NFL lockout, however city officials explained that usage of the Alamodome required, at minimum, a provisional schedule, lest the Cowboys lose their claim over the facilities.
The Cowboys plan to start moving equipment into the building July 25, said Mike Sawaya, who heads the city's convention, sports and entertainment facilities. The annual pep rally/concert to kick off camp is set for July 28, Sawaya said.
The Cowboys have the dome reserved through Aug. 13, Sawaya said.
If the work stoppage continues past July, the Cowboys may be forced to move their camp to Irving, Texas.
As the fall inches closer, situations like this -- which serve as a stark reminder of the stakes at hand -- will become commonplace among the NFL brass. As the effervescent glow of the offseason shrinks, and more and more owners are faced with the myriad of obligations that correspond with ownership of a citywide entity, the tensions between the league and the players will likely escalate.
"I played a little safety, a little wide receiver and Romo was struggling at quarterback so I went in and threw him a touchdown pass," Payton said. "Aikman led his team on a 2-minute drive that ended up tying the game. After about a half an hour, the adults were ready to quit and the kids were screaming for more. But it was fun."
Fun, you say? Well, maybe not only that. NBC Sports points out that the game might have violated NFL Lockout rules, since coaches aren't supposed to be in contact with players. There's some leeway regarding exactly what kinds of contact are problematic, and the league probably isn't going to punish anyone for a little beach football game, but still - Mr. Payton, Mr. Romo, consider yourselves warned.
As of late Monday afternoon, a new hand has stepped into the already tenuous NFL labor negotiations. According to reports, a collection of NFL retirees has filed an isolated complaint against both the current players and the owners, claiming that their interests and representatives are being excluded from the table by both sides. The abrupt insertion of this third party may further dissolve the already shaky nature of the league talks.
The class-action complaint was filed in Federal District Court in Minneapolis against the teams, the league, the players named in the Brady v. N.F.L. lawsuit and DeMaurice Smith, the head of the N.F.L. Players Association.
The complaint says that the current players and the association, with the N.F.L., "are conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former N.F.L. players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current N.F.L. players."
Reportedly, the collection of retired players felt compelled to officially file the complaint after being repeatedly rebuffed at the notion of organizations setting aside money within the salary cap for NFL retirees. The league has offered a 10 year deal worth $640 million -- $64 million a year -- to cover the benefits. However, the group claims that it would take a minimum of $200-$300 million a year to cover the various benefits programs necessary to maintain the retiree community.
As of Monday night the NFL has declined to comment on the situation. James Quinn, a lawyer for the players union, commented that he was unaware on the newest development.
NFL players and owners will continue negotiating to try to end the NFL Lockout in New York on Tuesday, ESPN reports. While last week's negotiations didn't go particularly smoothly, ESPN now says that the two sides are a bit closer to an agreement, as the owners have agreed to give players 46 percent of revenues. We'll see whether that's satisfactory for the players - the players were reportedly upset last week when the owners "reneged" on a stipulation that the players would receive 48 percent of revenues.
The two sides are also arguing over a "legacy fund":
One of the league's first proposals to the players called for the establishment of a new legacy fund for retired players, which would include $82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years.
[Players Association leader DeMaurice] Smith's idea, which the NFL agreed to, called for the league to share the funding with the players on a 50-50 basis. But the union lawyers backed away and said the owners should fund Smith's idea with no effect on the cap -- meaning no player contribution.
We'll see how this plays out this week. At this point, though, the two sides will need to get cracking if the NFL is to have a full slate of preseason games. It's important to the owners that they do, since the preseason is a major source of revenue for the league.
Chicago Bears' player representative Robbie Gould is expressing optimism that the players and owners can reach an agreement that would end the NFL Lockout. But his optimism is tinged with what sounds like a hint of doubt.
"We are going to play football; we really are," said Gould after leading the Wrigley Field crowd in "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the 7th inning of Saturday’s Cubs-Sox game.
"And if we miss a season, it's really unfortunate. I think at the end of the day, when you get a group of people in the room working like they are working to get a deal done, a settlement will be reached and we will be playing football," said the veteran kicker.
This is exactly what I would expect Gould to say on the record, particularly in the context of a celebratory occasion like the singing of the national anthem at a ballgame. That said, that's no reason to think Gould's optimism isn't genuine. Negotiations between the players and owners will continue this weekend in New York, and the two sides will be racing to get something done so that the league can play all its preseason games. Both sides have plenty of incentive to swing a deal at this point - the players need their paychecks, and the NFL needs preseason games, which bring in lots of money.
Talks between the owners and players to end the NFL lockout will conclude early on Friday according to NFL Network's Albert Breer. The two sides met for over 15 hours on Thursday and continue to meet on Friday morning. Friday's talks are not expected to be an all-day affair.
Per Breer, the talks will resume on Tuesday, July 5. The first two days of talks will include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and their respective legal teams. Thursday and Friday's talks will then include other owners and players.
So where do we stand on the NFL lockout right now? It's hard to tell as some noted on Thursday that talks stalled due to -- what else -- disagreements on the revenue split.
That said, the reliable Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that the optimism is returning.
Things appear back on course after Thursday afternoon's near breakdown of talks. A deal by the end of next week again seems possible.
Good news? I hope so. The deadline to come to an agreement and still get in free agency and training camp is coming soon. Some feel that deadline is July 15 though no one has gone on record to say so.
Hoping to see the NFL lockout solved on the Fourth of July holiday weekend?
Judy Battista of the New York Times reports that, while a deal could still happen within days, the target date is still a couple weeks away. According to the report, the week of July 10 is now the target to get a deal done. Depending on how quick an agreement can be finalized, that could still leave room for a small free agency period before training camps start.
As with most of these lockout reports, there are some sources reporting good and news and some bad news. Battista writes that one person familiar with the talks believes little progress has been made on critical issues -- like the money -- but another feels a deal can come much sooner.
One person who has been briefed on the status of talks said that the sides were close enough to complete a deal within 72 hours with intense effort. But dynamics among the parties, the person said, could stall a deal.
The next 72 hours would be a best-case scenario situation and, according to other reports, that seems unlikely.
Until then, we wait...and wait...for these two sides to figure out how to split up the money of the most successful sports league in history.
Free agent wide receiver Donte' Stallworth argues that the ongoing NFL Lockout could have a negative effect on the quality of play in the NFL this season, even assuming that the lockout ends within a week or so. Stallworth says that it will be difficult for young quarterbacks to be competitive while having so little practice time before the start of the season. He also argues that safety could be an issue, since less-prepared teams will play more sloppily:
I think this could be one of the worst years as far as team chemistry and continuity as far as having new players and the fundamentals of football, tackling, injuries, so many things. I hope everything goes normally, but you just never know with all the work we’ve missed.
It's hard to argue with him, unfortunately. If the lockout stretches on too much longer, players will be forced into regular-season games they're not necessarily ready for. A lot of defensive players already found the NFL's new, and often-inconsistent) approach to tackling challenging enough last year - now defenders might have to combine that with a lack of practice time with their teammates, while young offensive players struggle to learn their teams' offenses on the fly. If negotiations stretch on for more than a couple of weeks, it sounds like injuries could be more of a problem than they typically are.
We've had a busy week with negotiations between the owners and players to end the NFL lockout. It started on Tuesday when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and their respective legal teams, met for the first time in weeks without owners and players present. The talks continued on Wednesday for a brief time until both Goodell and Smith flew to Florida together to speak at the NFLPA rookie symposium.
That brings us to Thursday when the owners and players were brought back into the room. The talks went 'round the clock as the two sides met past midnight into Friday morning.
That's 15 hours of negotiating on Thursday alone. While there is a general air of optimism surrounding the talks, several hiccups have come across this week. The main issue is, of course, the money. Reports indicate that the players feel the owners are going backwards on the revenue split now suggesting a smaller piece of the pie for the players.
The past several weeks reports have said more and more optimism is coming out of the talks. That apparently prompted Smith to speak with several players via a conference call and tell them that the talks aren't as close as being reported. Some believe he said that knowing full well that it would leak to the media. The reason for this would be to make sure that the players don't get their hopes up regarding the prospects of getting a deal done soon.
The talks will continue on Friday with slightly less optimism than before. The deadline to get a deal done in order to save training camp and the preseason is coming soon -- some suggest a rough deadline of July 15 -- so the two sides need to first figure out how to split the money, and then hopefully everything else falls in line.
Remember, this has been a long negotiation. There are going to be hiccups along the way. Let's just hope this is a hiccup, and not a deal-breaker.
At midnight Eastern on Friday, Albert Breer noted that NFL owners and players were in hour 15 of NFL labor negotiations. It wasn't an easy day for either camp, and neither was it a productive one, as sources on the players' side told ESPN that talks were headed "backwards," arguing that owners went back on an older stipulation that granted players a few extra percentage points' worth of revenue than they are now offering.
Players calculate that under the owners' proposal, it would leave them with approximately with a 45 percent take on revenue, an "unacceptable" amount that one player source said "sets us back to March 11 ... before the lockout."
A management source said the owners have not reneged on any revenue split, claiming "it's a negotiation, which is always subject to change."
The players' side held a conference call with other players on Thursday, and what the players' side reportedly said was that "talks had stalled" on the issue of how to divide revenues.
CBS Sports' Mike Freeman suggests that the players are telling the truth, and that owners are, in fact, going back on earlier promises.
Again, the NFL will deny this, but I believe it is the owners who are destroying this round of talks, even as the two sides are extremely close. I believe the sources that tell me owners are playing mind games with the players: getting their optimism up and then down hoping the players cave out of frustration.
The long, long day of negotiations could prove to be a microcosm of what the next few weeks could look like. Some sources close to the negotiations now believe that they could stretch on for at least another week, at which point the two sides would run the risk of cutting into training camps and the preseason.
The feel-good attitude over ending the NFL Lockout that permeated the last few days became a bit more muted on Thursday night after another day of talks ended. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the formula for a revenue split between the owners and the players has been negated by the owners.
According to the players, the two sides agreed to a 52-48 split in favor of the owners. However, it appears that the owners went away from that proposal and want an additional $500 million to offset expenses, lowering the players' take by nearly 3 percent. This change on the owner's part came around when talks picked up last week:
Player sources contend the owners' terms changed when the two sides convened a day after owners met June 21 in Chicago. A source said the players went into Thursday's negotiating session with owners at the table, hoping to "get them back on track. They wouldn't move. It's disappointing."
Owners don't believe they have turned their back on any deal; rather, they are still negotiating and never agreed to anything.
We're still several weeks away from any new collective bargaining agreement being agreed upon by both sides.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith met once again on Thursday to discuss the NFL labor deal, but this time they expanded the talks to include owners and players for the first time this week.
Sitting down with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan at a Minneapolis law firm were a handful of owners -- John Mara of the New York Giants, Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots -- and players including Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts, Brian Waters of the Kansas City Chiefs and Domonique Foxworth of the Baltimore Ravens.
According to the AP, the NFLPA held a half-hour conference call to update players following the meeting. According to the source, "no big news" was discussed.
The July 4 holiday has long been considered by some as a target date for a deal. There is only one day left before the holiday begins. It's unlikely an agreement could be made by then right now, though next week is beginning to look possible as both sides seem closer than they've been in a long time.
Over the past few weeks a collection of owners and players have been meeting for several days at a time in various cities in order to come to an agreement on a new labor deal and end the NFL lockout. The news has been generally positive in that time period with reports of progress being made.
This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith met with their respective teams -- and without other owners and players. It was the first time those two had met without owners and players in these set of negotiations so we wondered what the significance of that was.
Goodell and Smith both flew to Florida together on Wednesday morning to speak to players at the NFLPA's rookie symposium, which was interpreted as a good sign, and they returned to Minnesota shortly thereafter.
On Thursday, the two sides will meet again but, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the meetings will now include other owners and players.
A number of owners and players arrived Wednesday in the Twin Cities to prepare for scheduled talks that will include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and the legal teams.
One of my theories was that Goodell and Smith were meeting on their own because all of the high-level, conceptual negotiations had already been hammered out. With the return of other owners and players, I'm not sure exactly what the status of the negotiations is.
Smith continues to tell players that a deal isn't close but there are dozens of other reports, including our own sources, who suggest major progress is being made and a deal could be struck within weeks. I still believe that's the case and hope to see a deal within the first week of July.
Once again, fans are left waiting to see what happens next. The two sides likely need an agreement completed and finalized by mid-July. That would give us some semblance of free agency before training camps begin and would also allow the preseason to go off.
The NFL owners and the players continue to work their ways toward a new collective bargaining agreement, and negotiations are still ongoing. On Thursday, those talks will resume in Minnesota between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners with NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith and his players, as well as legal teams for both sides. This comes after just the legal teams for both sides having spent the last three days talking, according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer.
After Goodell and Smith spoke to this year's rookie class at a NFLPA Rookie symposium, there certainly is a strong public appearance of both sides mending fences. However, we have no real update on how the bargaining by both sides is going.
As Joel Thorman pondered in previous update, could it be possible that a new agreement is announced at the end of the weekend? Breer may be hinting at that:
The parties are only scheduled to meet Thursday for now, but preparations are being made to continue into Friday, if it's deemed necessary, as the league-imposed lockout threatens to enter its fourth month.
Football fans may be able to rejoice soon, but they should continue to be cautious over all of this.
It's been well-publicized by now that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith met in Minnesota this week and later flew to Florida to address the rookies at the NFLPA's version of the rookie symposium.
Both men spoke following the event but didn't give any specific information of where we stand on the lockout.
Various reports say Smith said the two sides are "continuing to work hard" in the negotiations to end the NFL lockout. Goodell and Smith will return to Minnesota following the event to continue the talks.
Goodell noted it was a great opportunity to sit with the rookies, an opportunity he hasn't had for most of the offseason with the lockout. That Goodell went down there to speak to the rookies is a good sign that the relationship between the owners' side and players' side is improving.
According to reports, their schedule included breakfast together, an hour speaking to the rookies in attendance, a Q&A session with the players and then they took off for the airport.
Let's hope Goodell's appearance at the rookie event is indeed a good sign and we're nearing an end to the lockout.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith are meeting in Minnesota this week without other owners and players and some are interpreting this as a sign that a new agreement could be on its way shortly ending the NFL lockout that passed 100 days long last week.
That the other owners and players aren't involved suggests the two have moved past the big-picture negotiating and now move into the details of creating a new collective bargaining agreement. Albert Breer of NFL Network confirms that the Goodell and Smith meeting is seen as a positive.
The changing time frame surrounding this set of talks and the shifting cast of characters -- the first "secret" meetings only included Goodell, Smith, owners, players and U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan -- are seen as part of the process of negotiating a new agreement to end a lockout that's in its fourth month.
It's also noteworthy that the talks are being held in Minnesota, site of the antitrust lawsuit filed by the players. If and when Goodell and Smith, and their respective legal teams, hammer out the final bits of the agreement, they'll be in position to file the paperwork to settle the case.
Reading the tea leaves, some are wondering if an announcement of a new agreement could come as soon as Friday. That would then put the wheels in motion to make a new CBA official, go through the court process of settling the case and finalizing plans for free agency.
Well this is promising.
In the midst of tense negotiations between the National Football League Players Association and league owners, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to speak at the NFLPA rookie symposium. And Goodell has agreed to do it.
The commissioner will appear at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sarasota, FL Wednesday morning. A symposium called The Business of Football: Rookie Edition will be held at the IMG Academy nearby. Goodell and Smith left Minneapolis on the same flight Tuesday night.
Now, don't go thinking the lockout is officially over. What you can read into this is that the relationship between the two strongest personalities on both sides is cordial, and maybe, just maybe, that's because they're finding more and more things to agree on.
Over the last few months we've been following the NFL lockout and the negotiations between the owners and players. Throughout those months, there have been plenty of ups and downs. There was a time in March where we thought the deadline for a new CBA would be extended (again) and it wasn't leading to the start of the lockout. Then there was a time in April when the lockout was lifted for a few hours only to see it go back in place. There was also a time as recently as late May when folks were predicting that multiple NFL games would be missed.
The point is that this thing has been so up-and-down. One day there's lots of optimism and we feel a deal could be struck soon and the next day the whole thing is being blown up.
As a fan, it's been frustrating, to say the least. It's good to know then that some players, like the Seahawks' Chester Pitts, is feeling the nausea of the up-and-down coverage of the lockout as well.
You lose your mind trying to watch it every day go up-and-down, where we are close to a deal and the lawyers are there and they blew up the deal. It's all over the place, so I'm basically preparing like they are going to call tomorrow, but if they call in two weeks to vote I know that's when I'm ready because until I get a call and someone says this is where we are and we are ready for you guys to vote.
I don't think a lot of fans cared much about the details of the new CBA over the last few months. Now, I would say fans care even less about the details. We simply want a deal done and, more specifically, a fair deal for both side that will last multiple years.
The best way for the NFL owners and players to reach a labor agreement and end the NFL lockout is to sit down -- in the same room -- and negotiate. They've been doing that the last few weeks and it seems that significant progress has been made. Enough progress that some are even thinking the lockout could be over within weeks.
Despite the progress, the two sides had only been meeting for a couple of days at a time. With the fate of the full 2011 season hanging in the balance, some have been calling for them to meet face-to-face every single day until a deal is done.
Representatives for the owners and players will be doing just that -- at least for the next four days. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the two sides have committed to four consecutive days of talks through Friday.
The twist this time around is that no owners or players will be there -- just NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and their staffs.
We're not sure what that means but it is noteworthy that the past four meetings between these two sides have included both owners and players. It's also noteworthy that the talks are being held in Minnesota, site of the antitrust lawsuit by the players.
At this point, most fans don't really care about the details. We just want a deal so we can see football in 2011.
Negotiations between the NFL owners and players to strike a labor agreement and end the NFL lockout have started in Minnesota, according to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network. This is the fifth round of talks the two sides have held and this time around they return to the home of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who will once again join the talks.
La Canfora reports that there is still "significant work" to be done to end the lockout.
Progress was made in the four other sessions in four different locations -- suburban Chicago, New York's Long Island, Maryland's Eastern Shore and suburban Boston -- but significant work must be done before the parties can strike a deal. Talks are expected to continue into next month, and time is of the essence.
Training camp isn't the only issue the two sides are facing as far as the schedule goes. We would like to see a decent free agency period as well so that means, ideally, the labor deal is complete and free agency is starting sometime in the second week of July.
The NFL lockout enters another week and, like previous weeks, we're not sure when the work stoppage will end. The latest updates says a contingent of owners and players will continue to meet this week at an undisclosed location. Previously, they have met in Chicago, Long Island, Maryland and Boston.
Over the past month, we've seen more and more optimism in the talks. While those involved are quick to caution that nothing is guaranteed to get done, others are privately predicting that the basic framework of an agreement is worked out in the first week or two of July.
Once the two sides reach an agreement, the question then becomes what happens with free agency. It's possible that a CBA is agreed and signed by mid-July, and then we'll see a brief free agency period before training camps start (for most teams) in late July or early August.
The NFL lockout has passed it's 100th day and we're still waiting. Hopefully all this waiting is worth it and the two sides strike a deal that will allow free agency and training camp to occur before the start of the 2011 season.
Over 100 days have gone by since the NFL Lockout started, but the league and the players to do appear to be moving closer to a resolution. While it will still take at least a few weeks to come to a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, both sides continue face-to-face negotiations, and this coming week they will meet at an unknown location, reports the NFL Network's Albert Breer.
After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith publicly spoke together on Friday, one would hope that appearances do meet the eye and that that was a good sign for things that are to come. However, no one is saying a new deal is close to being a touchdown in the end zone. But the situation doesn't appear to need a Hail Mary pass, either.
All in all, it appears fans should be guardedly optimistic about having football in the fall.
Another round of discussions between the NFL owners and players concluded in Boston on Thursday and for one of the very few (or only) times NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith stood together to speak to reporters following the conclusion of the meeting.
We can't read much into that but them speaking together and shaking hands is better than nothing. It seems as if trust is being restored and the two sides are genuinely working to get a deal done.
On the NFL talks, Goodell said:
"De and I were here the entire meetings. And it's complicated, it's complex, and we're working hard. We understand the fans' frustration, but both of us are continuing to work hard at it."
And Smith said:
"We know we're talking about the right issues. And we're working hard to get it done. It's extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by all the people, but we're going to keep working at it."
Let's hope they keep working. Many folks have been talking about the renewed optimism in recent weeks so let's hope that momentum continues and we're soon dissecting the new CBA.
Check out more of their comments here.
I don't think this is as big of a deal as it may sound but Mike Florio of PFT reports that in a conference call with player reps, the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith said that a deal with the league on a new CBA isn't close.
It sounds sort of doom and gloom but it's hard to truly believe that's the case when there's been a complete wave of optimism in the last few weeks. Many people, including NFL executives I have personally spoken with, believe a deal could be done by the first week in July.
Florio wondered whether this was an effort by Smith to slow down the chorus of those suggesting a deal will be done within weeks.
Now, it's possible that this is part of an effort to reduce the perception that an agreement soon will be reached. If enough players come to that conclusion, the NFL could choose to take a hard line on one or more of the remaining issues, forcing the NFLPA* to have to choose between conceding the point or killing a deal that the players think is done.
I agree with this theory. There are simply too many credible people saying publicly and privately that they believe a deal between the two sides can be done within weeks.
There's some optimism surrounding the NFL lockout as the owners and players continue to negotiate a new CBA that would end the nearly 100-day NFL lockout. ESPN's Chris Mortensen leaked some details of the new CBA such as the revenue split, the addition of Thursday night games and increased benefits for retirees.
An early look at the proposed CBA has some players saying they can "live with" a deal like that, according to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com.
Though the players explained to me they don't like everything they know about it thus far -- the true sign of a good deal is when both sides are unhappy about some aspect of it and that seems to be the case -- overall they think it's a solid one for the players.
"Most guys won't love this new CBA," said one player, "but they'll live with it."
Freeman contacted just five players so it's hardly a consensus but, as Freeman points out, the best deal is going to be one that neither side is particularly thrilled about because it means both sides are giving something up.
One thing the players don't like, which I agree with, is the length of the next CBA -- supposedly 10 years, if it gets done. That seems like a long time for a league which hopes to double their money in that time span. At this point, though, I'll take any sort of deal so we can get back to football.
The NFL lockout rolls on past it's 100th day but we're hearing more and more positive reports regarding the negotiations between the owners and players. The owners held a meeting in Chicago on Tuesday and the vibe coming out was that now is the time to do a deal. Reporters have suggested a new CBA could be done within a few weeks but, as Colts owner Jim Irsay said, the talks are "fragile" and can still break down.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed following the owners meetings on Tuesday that he and other owners would be meeting with a contingent of the players for further negotiations. The two sides have met over the past few weeks in Long Island, outside of Baltimore and now this week it will be the Boston suburbs, according to reports.
It appears we're heading into the final few weeks of getting a deal done without interrupting training camp. Reports have suggested a new CBA needs to be delivered by mid-July in order to save training camp. Goodell said after Tuesday's meetings that they don't have a drop dead date....yet.
Is there a drop dead date? There isn't but obviously, time is moving quickly and we are fast approaching the training camp period. There is an urgency for everybody to get this done.
A sense of urgency is very, very important. I think both sides are feeling that and I think that's a good thing.
Let's hope this NFL lockout can end in the next few weeks and we never find out what the owners drop dead date is.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen has quite a few details of the proposed CBA between the players and owners. The deal between the two sides isn't done yet so this isn't official but the two sides are progressing to a point where more people are asking when a deal will get done, not if.
Of the several notable items in Mort's report is that Thursday Night Football could be coming on a full season basis. Currently, only the second half of the season includes a Thursday Night Football package but, in the proposed CBA, that could be changed so that we have 16 weeks of Thursday Night Football.
We're not sure on the details but the league could sell the package to another network where they'll be able to add more revenue than if they kept it on NFL Network. It's also possible they sell only a portion of the Thursday night package while NFL Network keeps some of the games.
For fans of football, this is a very good thing. It means there are more nights in which football is on. This would put football games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday night, as well as the full slate of games on Sunday afternoon.
This is the type of NFL lockout news we like to be discussing rather than courtroom talk. Hopefully the two sides keep the momentum going and move closer to a deal.
Tuesday's owners meetings have produced quite a bit of NFL lockout news already -- including looks at the potential new revenue split and free agency -- but most football fans are going to be happy to start seeing more things like this: Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole says, "more people inside the room seem encouraged. Deal isn't done, but it may be a matter of paperwork at this point."
The general tone of lockout negotiations has taken a positive turn over the past couple weeks or so, with multiple outlets starting to express good vibes and happy thoughts. A "paperwork" matter can still take a long time, and there's no guarantee it's actually that far along, but it's hard to shake the feeling we've come a long way in a short time as the season approaches.
When the new CBA is completed -- people are optimistically guessing that comes in early July -- one aspect of free agency will revert back to pre-2010 rules, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
If and when there an agreement is reached, all players with four or more years of experience are expected to be unrestricted free agents, according to sources familiar with the talks. Certain tags will be retained but that still is being discussed.
Those "certain tags" will likely include the franchise tag, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Basically what this all means is there will be more free agents which, in theory, means more money spent by the teams. The players like this.
When the NFL went to an uncapped year in 2010, the rules changed from four years of service time for unrestricted free agency to six years. This meant more guys were playing on restricted free agent tenders rather than contracts obtained on the open market and those contracts on the open market are generally higher than restricted free agency tenders.
So what to take out of this is that this particular portion of free agency will go back to normal, or pre-2010. For the players, this is good because it means they hit free agency quicker, which is always the goal of the players because that's where the big money is.
NFL owners are meeting in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the negotiations with the players in the pursuit of a new collective bargaining agreement. The meeting is designed to update owners and other team executives on the status of the negotiations with the players and what the next CBA could look like.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported on several of the details being discussed, including the big one -- the money. In the last deal, the players received 60 percent of the revenues after the owners took approximately $1 billion off the top. Counting that $1 billion, the players received approximately 53 percent of the revenues.
So there were two numbers to consider when looking at how much the players received. The players of course focused on the 53 percent -- or how much of all the money they received -- while the owners focused on the 60 percent -- or just the money after the $1 billion credit was taken off.
In the new CBA, Mort reports that the players share will go down to 48 percent of all the revenue, as opposed to 53 percent, and that number will never dip below 46.5 percent.
Players believe they can justify a 48 percent take because of the projected revenue growth, as well as built-in mechanism that require teams to spend a minimum of 90-93 percent of the salary cap, sources said. The mandatory minimum spending increase is an element that concerns lower-revenue clubs, sources say.
So the players will take in a smaller percentage -- and there are likely concessions given by the owners to do so -- but, if the money rises at the rate they expect it to, it will be more money overall.
Of course, this is all still in negotiations. Those numbers can change. But hopefully this break down is the beginning of even more progress for the two sides, perhaps enough progress that we can end the NFL lockout in several weeks.
There isn't supposed to be any communication between players and league personnel during the NFL lockout but, guess what, some of them have talked anyway. Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com has an intriguing story reporting that several owners have contacted star players advising them that the litigation strategy employed by the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith, is not the best route to getting a deal done.
Per Freeman, the calls were designed to divide the players. It's unclear when the communication took place but Freeman reports the league is aware of it.
The calls were made to pressure the players into fracturing. To publicly chirp. To point fingers. But a funny thing has happened on the way to dividing the players, as many among ownership and in the media expected would happen by now. It hasn't.
It's interesting, to say the least. The players have yet to splinter like many (including myself) had expected. The true test could come when players start to miss game checks but hopefully progress continues to be made on a new CBA and we don't have to test that.
If we're going to get a deal done in the next few weeks, then it's probably best we don't have anymore stories like this publicly pointing the finger at one side or the other. Both sides seem to be getting quiet, which is when the deals usually come.
Here's an interesting tidbit on the NFL owners meetings going on in Chicago on Tuesday -- football executives are included in the sessions. The two sides are reportedly making progress on ending the NFL lockout so I wonder if the presence of some of the league's GMs is a good sign.
If the football people are in the house, then it's possible they're discussing how to conduct free agency if/when the league year begins. I'd say this could be considered a good sign, if that's indeed what they're discussing.
The owners and players will figure out the details of the CBA but they'll likely need the input from GMs in order to get football operations up and running again.
Another interesting tidbit on the meetings is that they're expected to last just one day. Last week, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the owners were told to prepare to stay another day but it doesn't appear that'll be the case.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
The NFL's labor committee met in Chicago on Monday to prepare for Tuesday's meeting with all NFL owners and other team representatives. The topic of discussion will of course be the negotiations with the players on the next labor deal and informing those owners of the reported progress made over the past few weeks as they try to end the NFL lockout.
Throughout a series of meetings between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a handful of owners and representatives from the players side, the NFL lockout is slowly but surely being whittled down. It's believed that enough progress has been made that a deal could be done as early as the end of this month.
The goal of course is for the owners to land on a consensus this week, go back to the players, negotiate a new deal in the face of a "significant deadline", and end the NFL lockout according to Don Banks of SI.com.
That said, the majority of owners are believed to feel that the first significant deadline in salvaging the entire 2011 season is fast approaching. Striking a deal and starting free agency by July 15 would allow for training camp and the preseason to unfold as usual, and the NFL is said to have $700 million-plus of potential lost income if it doesn't. That would obviously mean owners will be positioned to give the players their best possible deal if a full preseason occurs.
At this point, no games have been lost. They can salvage the preseason if the two sides can work something out in the next couple of weeks. I'm one of the folks that routinely make fun of the joke that is preseason football but, at this point, I'd pay to see preseason games.
It's better than theNFL lockout.
The last few weeks have featured more and more optimism regarding the future of the NFL lockout. A contingent of owners and players have met six times this month and there's a feeling among league executives that a new CBA could be completed as soon as the end of the month.
After months and months of pessimism, it's a very good feeling to know a deal could be coming within weeks. That said, it's not done yet.
Tuesday will represent another step in the talks as NFL owners and team executives will head to Chicago for a meeting which will update them on the status of the talks with the players. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to address the owners concerns of where they stand with the current talks, and what kind of concessions the owners are making, and generally everything they've discussed with the players.
Not every owner will be happy. We know that. Goodell's job is to get at least 24 of the 32 owners to accept a deal. Some will hate the details he shares with the owners and others will love it. He needs to get as many of them as possible on the same page moving forward.
Let's hope at least 24 of these owners agree with the way things are going. That means we're that much closer to our normal football lives.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
The NFL owners have presented themselves as a unified group throughout the NFL lockout and while that may still be the case it appears there are some owners that aren't completely happy with the way talks have gone. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, there is resistance among some NFL owners regarding the status of the talks and the potential deals that have been proposed.
A handful of NFL owners -- at least two of which are from AFC teams -- believe the parameters of the deal being discussed don't adequately address the original issues the league wanted corrected from the 2006 collective bargaining agreement, according to sources.
We're not sure who those owners are but it is curious that two of them are from the AFC side. Bengals owner Mike Brown and Bills owner Ralph Wilson were the two owners who voted against the previous CBA so it makes you wonder if they're against the talks this time around.
The problem with just a handful of owners becoming unhappy is that they may not be able to do anything about it. Only 24 of the league's 32 owners need to approve of a new CBA so, if there's an offer on the table that the players will accept, a "handful of NFL owners" may not be enough to change anything.
Schefter also reports that Tuesday's owners meeting, which could spill into Wednesday, will plan to address the concerns of these owners who aren't sure that the current negotiations represent the original reasons for opting out of the CBA. The goal will apparently be to develop a consensus on the various issues being discussed.
If some owners are upset, then it's a pretty good indication that at least some parts of the deal being offered to the players is fair. It suggests that the owners are compromising on key issues that may not necessarily please everyone.
Whoever is happy or unhappy, let's just hope they cut a deal to end the NFL lockout.
After a couple weeks of optimism regarding the NFL lockout, football fans got a splash of water in their faces when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday that talks almost "blew up" with the lawyers in the room. Another source told Schefter that the idea that a deal could get done in two weeks is "borderline insane."
Understandably, that caused some anxiety among NFL fans because we are desperate to see this NFL lockout end and get the football world back to normal.
The good news is that some NFLPA officials believe ESPN's report mischaracterized the state of talks. According to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, the words "cautious optimism" are being thrown around regarding the talks.
Individual team representatives and rank-and-file players began contacting various union officials after an ESPN report said talks almost "blew up." The players, I'm told, were informed that the report mischaracterized the state of talks and that negotiations were actually moving in a positive direction. Indeed, the Associated Press reported that both sides have their "noses to the grindstone."
That doesn't mean a deal will get done but it does make me feel a little better about the direction in which these talks are going. As long as there's some positive feelings around the talks, they'll be making progress.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
NFL owners and players have been meeting again this week and, though that fact has been reported by nearly everyone in the NFL media, the two sides confirmed via a joint statement that they have been meeting this week.
"Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks."
The confidentiality part of this has been going better than past meetings as we've really only heard that progress is being made but none of the specifics of what concessions each side is giving up.
On the league's side, Roger Goodell was in attendance as were owners Jerry Richardson, Clark Hunt, Robert Kraft, Dean Spanos and John Mara.
And now we wait once again. Let's hope the talk of progress the last few weeks hasn't been a smokescreen and that there's a legitimate chance a deal can be signed in the next few weeks.
We've been talking about the optimism surrounding the NFL lockout and that the owners and players are making enough progress on a new CBA that some believe it will be coming within several weeks.
Now it's time to bring back the pessimism. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Tuesday's talks "almost blew up" after the lawyers entered the room. The NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith had to tell his lawyers to "stand down" at one point as tensions grew.
Schefter says that, while progress is being made, there's still a lot of work to do.
Multiple sources familiar with the talks said progress is being made, but they cautioned that there's "a lot of drama and a lot of room for mistakes left." To say this is going to be done in two weeks, one source said, "is borderline insane."
That's OK. We'll still hold out some optimism that progress is being made. The past week has brought us a barrage of stories indicating serious progress was made so those on the inside had to put things in perspective regarding the status of the talks.
Let's hope this thing gets done sooner rather than later.
On June 3, lawyers for the NFL owners and players met in a St. Louis courtroom in front of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals presenting their oral arguments as to why the NFL lockout should or should not be lifted. At its conclusion, Judge Kermit Bye strongly encouraged each side to work out a deal on their own to end the lockout and get back to football rather than wait for the court's ruling, which Bye says neither the owners nor players would like.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports identifies that as the point when the owners and players started to become truly serious about achieving a new labor agreement.
"That's when the sides got real with each other," the source said. "When the deadline loomed large they started to work on the real issues."
On Tuesday evening, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reported that the labor agreement was 80-85 percent of the way done and the source quoted above agreed with that assessment, according to Wetzel.
This is all good news as more and more folks are saying the discussions are on the right track. In fact, it'd be hard to derail the momentum to a new CBA at this point.
For those of who have been starving without football, these next few weeks will be anxious. But when they finally do reach an agreement, and it appears that has a good chance of happening, it will be like Christmas.
Stick around for more NFL lockout news throughout the day.
We've noted in various posts this week the rising level of optimism among the owners and players that a new CBA can be completed, perhaps as soon as the end of the month, ending the NFL lockout.
Here's more good news: Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com cites a source reporting that discussions on a new CBA are estimated to be 80-85 percent of the way done.
One source with intimate knowledge of the discussions tells me negotiations are 80-85 percent complete. They've made such fast progress, I'm told, it's catching many of the principals by surprise. Some are now canceling vacations, believing an agreement will be reached within a matter of days.
The good news doesn't end there. Freeman reports one source tells him that it would be "very difficult" to screw this up now. Apparently, the tone in the talks has changed dramatically where both sides are now truly negotiating.
The tone of the meetings has taken such a dramatic turn it has indeed been like a different set of gatherings. The players, I'm told, had no trust in anything ownership said during the initial mediation sessions but that has completely changed. Different proposals are exchanged almost daily. The two sides are, well, finally and heartily negotiating.
This is outstanding news, football fans. It's important to not only figure out a way to play the 2011 season but to also reach a long-term agreement that won't find us back in this same mess next year.
Stay tuned for more positive NFL lockout news.
The (potentially) good news continues to roll in regarding the NFL lockout. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports a contingent of owners and players will meet in the Washington D.C. area on Tuesday. Per Mort, both sides are in "deal-making mode."
Again, we're cautious to get our hopes up too much because we've been optimistic before only to see that dashed with pessimism but we've been seeing lots of positive reports lately. Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that it's "increasingly realistic" that a deal gets done by the end of the month.
That doesn't mean a deal will get done but it does mean that the two sides are making enough progress to make some think that a new deal is possible. Considering just a few weeks ago we were wondering if any games would be missed as a result of the lockout, I'll take all the positive news I can get.
The owners are meeting on June 21 and they've been told to prepare to stay overnight which suggests there's lots of talking to be done. And if the two sides are talking that means we are presumably closer to a deal.
NFL Network's Albert Breer reports the talks will be of the same type that we've seen between the two sides over the last few weeks.
Check back for more good news regarding the NFL lockout.
I almost don't want to write this because it seems that any time we get a dose of optimism in the NFL lockout talks between the NFL owners and players something happens to push things back but I'll go ahead and write it anyway: a deal between the owners and players to end the lockout could happen as early as the end of this month.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post cites people familiar with the negotiations in writing that a deal the week after the owners' meetings on June 21-22 seems "increasingly realistic."
It is possible--but very unlikely--that the owners could vote on a labor deal at that meeting, said several of the people, who did not participate in the talks but are familiar with developments. It is more likely, they said, that owners could give negotiators their opinions and a deal with the players could be completed the following week.
Again, don't get too excited. We've thought progress was being made before only to see that knocked down by other developments. But I am starting to feel that something could actually get done this summer. A deal before the Fourth of July holiday would be welcomed by all because it means no games, and not even training camp, would be compromised.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news where we're hopefully writing about the new CBA soon.
The NFL and NFLPA continue to work on a new labor agreement so that we can lift the NFL lockout and get back to our normal football offseason. The latest development comes via the news that the league's owners, who are scheduled to meet on June 21, have been told to prepare to stay overnight.
We're grasping here but that's perhaps an indication of some optimism. Mike Florio of PFT wonders if next week's meeting will include a pre-approval of a future labor deal.
Even if a deal remains days or weeks away as of next Tuesday, the owners could choose to pre-approve the final terms to be offered by the negotiating team, eliminating the need for a vote once an agreement in principle is reached between the folks hashing out the details.
Interesting point. Logistically, it makes more sense for them to pre-approve the terms of a deal in which they would accept so that the negotiating team knows exactly what to aim for and a deal in principle can be reached.
It should be noted though that the overnight stay has as much of a chance of meaning nothing as it does something. Hopefully, our optimism is rewarded in the near future.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
The NFL lockout inches toward its one hundredth day and, despite the fact that we don't have a deal yet, there's some slight optimism in the air. Owners and players have met multiple times in the last two weeks and plan to do so again this week in the hopes of finding some common ground upon which they can begin to frame an agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Peter King of SI.com lays out the basics of what's been going on at those meetings. The owners and players are meeting -- without lawyers -- in smaller groups to nail down specific issues such as the health and safety of the players, the timeline of the offseason program and player retirement.
King writes that the two sides are making progress, but a deal isn't imminent.
Look for the talks to continue this week, somewhere. But don't expect a resolution imminently. The CBA is long and tedious, and each side is going over every sentence, even without the lawyers in-house. "It'd be a mistake to think it's certainly going to happen,'' said one source. "There's a long way to go. But instead of people yelling at each other, trying to score debating points, now people are sitting down and talking to each other, trying to solve a very involved case. That's progress.''
I'll take any shred of good news I can get and the two sides talking is good news. The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to rule sometime in the next few weeks so, ideally, the two sides come to an agreement before that happens.
Various reports are indicating progress is being made and even shooting for some type of agreement by mid-July. We've heard this before but this time it feels real. Let's hope the momentum continues and, shortly after the Fourth of July, we're celebrating a new agreement.
It doesn't sound like a labor agreement between the players and owners is imminent but it's great to hear that the two sides will continue to talk. Albert Breer of NFL Network reports the two sides will meet face-to-face again next week to continue the push for a new CBA to end the NFL lockout.
Talking doesn't necessarily translate to a new deal but it's a step in the right direction. A few teams have started announcing that season ticket sales will start in the middle of July. I'm hoping that those dates aren't a coincidence and owners are selling tickets then because they believe the lockout will be over by that point. That's my hope at least.
If the two sides can't come to an agreement in the next few weeks, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will rule on the arguments they heard last week in St. Louis. Judge Kermit Bye said after that session that the court would make a ruling in due time that neither side would like. Let's hope the two sides recognize that and get something done soon.
It seems that we're gaining a slight bit of optimism with the NFL lockout in the past week. That doesn't mean something will get done but it's encouraging to see folks around the league moving away from the doom-and-gloom scenarios.
That said, every time I've felt some optimism in this ordeal, it's been knocked shortly thereafter.
Progress continues to be made toward ending the NFL lockout, says New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, though he cautions there's still a long way to go. He says he's glad issues are being worked on by NFL and NFLPA principals instead of lawyers. While one smaller Massachusetts institution is curiously proclaiming the lockout over*, we'll take Mr. Kraft's word that the two sides remain far apart.
Kraft isn't the first major NFL figure to express positive vibes this week that important parts of the two sides are at least talking and slowly bridging the gap. He says he wants football back as bad as fans do and hopes no game weeks have to be missed.
* Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio heartily slaps down this notion with vigor and great spirit.
NFL owners and players, including DeMaurice Smith and Commissioner Roger Goodell, met last week for "secret" talks in Chicago. Those "secret" talks continue this week and the two sides have issued a joint statement confirming that.
NFL owners and players continue to be engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. Both sides met again this week as part of ongoing court mediation. Those discussions are expected to continue.
NFL Network reports the meetings are taking someplace in Long Island.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello identified those on the NFL side participating in the talks: Goodell, Panthers' Jerry Richardson, Chiefs' Clark Hunt, Chargers' Dean Spanos, Patriots' Robert Kraft and Giants' John Mara. And for the players it was Kevin Mawae, Dominique Foxworth, Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel and Tony Richardson.
Ideally, these talks take a turn for the serious and the two sides reach an agreement. I think that's possible but, every time I gain some optimism, something happens to strike it back down. But I'm still holding a glimmer of hope that something comes out of these meetings.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Last week we were met with some optimism in the NFL lockout when it was reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners were meeting with the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith and several players. The talks were secretive so some folks were wondering if this was a sign that they were working on a settlement (they were, if you haven't heard).
Shortly after that, the two sides met again in St. Louis to deliver their oral arguments to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the future of the lockout.
And now comes word that, after last week's meeting in court, the two sides have resumed talking. Albert Breer of NFL.com reports the two sides picked up talks again on Tuesday at an undisclosed location. (Maybe Jerry Jones decided to use an airplane that didn't have a giant Cowboys star on the tail of the plane in order to be a little more secretive.)
We're not sure of any details of the meeting between the two sides but the fact that they're sitting down and represents a slight ray of hope. Ideally, they work out an agreement on their prior to the Eighth Circuit's ruling, which is expected to come down later this month.
So talking is good for the NFL and NFLPA. Let's hope they keep it up.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Well isn't this a nice little public relations game. Back in May, NFL owners surprisingly learned that 2011 ticket sales were ahead of 2010's pace, despite the lockout. That sounded incredibly fishy to just about everyone, which makes sense, because we're now learning that it isn't true.
When the public learned that ticket sales were ahead of the old pace, they were apparently hearing about some old information. Now that new information has come out, they're hearing otherwise. This might have something to do with the fact that there might not be an NFL season this year. Maybe I'm reaching, but I have a hunch.
More likely than not, the NFL reported some outdated information last month without thinking about it and has now reported the updated information simply because they have updated information to report. However, this could also be an attention-grabbing PR move where they attempt to make it look like the owners aren't making money. I'm really hoping it's the former.
Several months ago the NFL accused the NFLPA of not bargaining in good faith and filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The league also questioned the NFLPA's decertification saying it was a sham.
The NLRB has been looking at the NFL's complaint and the latest news in that case is that they have sent the case to the Division of Advice in Washington D.C.
This matter is obviously now before the Regional Advice Branch which will research, analyze and provide "advice" to the General Counsel and the Regional Office with respect to whether the charge is worth pursuing. Following this review -- perhaps a few weeks or months hence -- the Division will likely issue an Advice Memorandum to the Regional Director recommending either issuance of a complaint or dismissal of the charge absent withdrawal.
This may not end up mattering much as it sonds like we're more likely to hear a decision from the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals before the decision here. So while the case is still processing, it may not have much of an affect on the future of the NFL lockout.
Last Friday, the NFL and NFLPA presented oral arguments to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the future of the NFL lockout. The owners want the lockout to remain in place while the players want it lifted. It's all about leverage and, after the ruling from the Eighth Circuit, one side will have a lot of it.
But it's also possible the two sides reach an agreement on a deal to end the NFL lockout before the Eighth Circuit. That's what most are hoping for though it's unclear how viable that really is.
If games are compromised, we know the NFL has created the schedule in a way that they could possibly buy a few weeks of time. But, according to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, the NFL is also planning for a scenario where a season could be as short as eight games.
In 1982, the work stoppage resulted in nine games so it's possible we see a season even shorter than that. In this scenario, the games would begin sometime in November, which is when the season is usually halfway over.
I'm glad the NFL is making plans to play, even if it's a shortened season, but this would be near a worst-case scenario.
The oral arguments in the latest NFL lockout court meeting have concluded and, for those of you who wanted an immediate decision, I've got bad news for you -- it's not coming. At least not for a weeks. The judges said the ruling would come at some point -- most are guessing around the end of June -- and the final decision would be one neither side would like.
They also encouraged both sides to continue talking. We learned on Thursday that the two sides had abandoned mediation and moved into settlement talks. As we've previously explained, that's how the last CBA agreement came to place in 1993, so let's hope it's the same this time around.
As for Friday's court case, each side made their arguments as to why the lockout should remain in place -- the NFL's argument -- and as to why it should be lifted -- the NFLPA's argument.
Despite all this business in court, the best course of action is for the two sides to sit down and hammer out a long-term agreement. They will likely have several weeks before the court's decision so let's hope they use this time wisely and get something done.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
The NFL lockout has come down to a big court date on Friday morning at the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The NFL and NFLPA will meet in St. Louis at 10:00 a.m. where a panel of three judges will hear each side's arguments as to whether the NFL lockout is valid.
Last month, Judge Susan Nelson ruled to lift the lockout but the NFL appealed that ruling, which is what brings us to the Eighth Circuit on Friday. The NFL obviously wants the lockout to remain in place because that gives them the most amount of leverage moving forward. The players clearly want the lockout to end so that they can get back to work.
Andrew Brandft of National Football Post has a full primer of what to expect today and it's a really good read. The biggest takeaway is that, as of now, the momentum is pointing to the NFL, Brandt explains.
The Court waited seventeen days between issuing a temporary stay and ruling on the permanent stay. In the event the Court truly believed that the Players were suffering irreparable harm, logic would dictate that the permanent stay ruling would have come sooner. Also, in their order granting the permanent stay, JudgesBenton and Colloton may have tipped their hand, expressing that they "have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League's lockout."
Most folks are feeling the league will prevail but most folks covering this don't regularly cover three judges either so we really don't know.
Nevertheless, we'll hear the arguments on Friday morning but we don't expect a ruling until late June.
The Minnesota federal court has canceled a mediation session scheduled to start next week between the NFL and NFLPA, according to Daniel Kaplan of SBJ. That doesn't sound like good news.
But it is, sort of.
They're actually moving into settlement talks instead of mediation sessions. The last time these two sides entered into settlement talks in a situation like this was in 1993 which ultimately resulted in the CBA that presided over the league until last March. So, if history matters -- and I'm really hoping it does -- we could see a similar arrangement.
At this point, though, that's just my optimism leaking out. It can still go either way. We'll have Friday's court date where the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear arguments from each side as to why the lockout should or shouldn't be lifted. A ruling on that would likely come in several weeks, perhaps by the end of June.
So, I think what fans should hope for is a settlement agreement before the ruling comes down later this month because, once that ruling comes down, one side -- likely the owners -- will have major leverage and that won't result in the fairest possible labor deal. And if we don't get the fairest possible labor deal, we'll be back in this position very soon.
So here's to hope in the NFL lockout.
It's been reported that leaders from the NFL and the NFLPA met privately in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursdayalong with Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. Neither side has officially confirmed the meetings until they released a joint statement on Thursday afternoon.
"The parties met pursuant to court mediation. Owners and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions."
So it was the Judge who brought them together. They didn't do it on their own. That's a little bit of a let down considering we thought at one point that the two sides had agreed on their own to meet. If they had agreed on their own to meet, we could have reasons for optimism. But since this was essentially court-ordered, I'm not sure there's much we can draw out of it.
So let's get back to waiting for Friday's court hearing. After the court hears each sides' arguments, we'll likely have another couple of weeks before finding out what the future of the lockout is.
The secret meeting between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith isn't so secret anymore as more news on Wednesday night's meet-and-greet continues to spill out. We've already identified many of the folks in attendance at the meeting but there's one that we missed -- mediatior Arthur Boylan.
The two sides previously met with Boylan in May but not much progress was made. It's unclear how much progress has been made this time around but it's a positive that the two sides are talking.
According to the Washington Post's Mark Maske, talks will continue into Thursday as Friday's court date, which will go a long way in deciding the future of the lockout, looms.
Let's hope these talks are about coming to an agreement and ending the lockout. Fans should prefer that the two sides come to a long-term agreement instead of letting the court decide the future of football.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
As you know by now, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith met in Chicago on Wednesday night presumably to discuss the status of the lockout. The optimism you might find brewing resides in the fact that the two sides are actually talking -- without lawyers.
Indeed, the meeting included a handful of players and owners but no lawyers.
Regardless of what happens in court, the two sides still need to hammer out a long-term agreement and that will be done by the leaders of both organizations -- not the lawyers. So this is an encouraging sign, although I'm cautiously optimistic considering all the good signs that have shortly turned into bad signs throughout this ordeal.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
On Wednesday night a report came out that a handful of NFL owners including the Cowboys' Jerry Jones, Patriots' Robert Kraft and Panthers' Jerry Richardson met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in Chicago sometime on Wednesday.
That news was a surprise because of the secretive nature of the meeting. ESPN has since reported that the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith was also involved adding even more intrigue to the meeting.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the meeting was so secretive that some other NFL owners didn't even know about it. Clearly, this isn't something they wanted to become public.
So what does it all mean? Schefter says the two sides made some progress but no definitive end to the lockout is in sight.
One source said any potential deal still was a ways away, however, the hope would be that the two sides could get something done sooner rather than later, potentially even later this month.
So we're back to waiting for now but with slightly more optimism than before.
On Wednesday night a report came out that several influential owners including the Patriots' Robert Kraft, Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Panthers' Jerry Richardson met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outside Chicago. The news was interesting but it was hard to speculate on what exactly it was all about -- besides labor, of course.
As it turns out, the meeting in Chicago had another participant -- the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith. This coming from ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, who report officials from the NFLPA were present as well as Goodell and the owners.
Per Schefter, the two sides made "some progress" in the talks and, in a perfect world, would have an agreement by the end of this month.
This was a face-to-face meeting between the leaders of both organizations only two days before the sides will present their case to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. At that court date, a panel of three judges will determine whether the lockout remains in place or if it's lifted.
Obviously, this meeting can mean a lot of things. But, as I've said consistently throughout this process, it's better to have the two sides communicating regularly than not talking at all so I'll take this as a positive sign for what's coming up next.
The NFL and NFLPA haven't commented on the report.
We shall see what this meeting was all about.
Last week the NFL Coaches Association filed a brief in the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals supporting the players in the NFL lockout and requesting that the lockout be ended immediately in order to avoid any more harm to the coaches.
You would think with a name like the NFL Coaches Association that they would represent all NFL coaches but that's definitely not the case.
Coaches are in a tough spot with this lockout because they need both sides. They need the players to trust them and play hard for them. They also need to work closely with management so they can't tune that side out. They're stuck right in the middle so it's a difficult position.
Many of those same coaches say they also had no idea the brief was even being filed, let alone that they don't agree with it. Larry Kennan, director of the NFL Coaches Association, says every team should have been notified.
So anything you see in the future from the NFL Coaches Association should be taken in with the knowledge that they don't represent the views of every NFL coach.
There’s no way of telling whether it brings us any closer to seeing pro football any time in the next three months, but a group of influential NFL owners and perhaps Commissioner Roger Goodell gathered near Chicago, and apparently not for a shopping spree along the Magnificent Mile. (Which is a shame, because there are some really nice shops there.)
The meeting was rather hush-hush, and most of the participants tried to keep their plans to themselves. But some attempts at discretion were more successful than others.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was spotted Wednesday afternoon boarding his private jet at DuPage Airport, a little less than 24 hours after arriving, according to sources. Also present during a full-day stakeout was the jet belonging to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an unmistakable Gulfstream model with a star on each side of the tail.
The latest formal step in the showdown is a court hearing this Friday. More might, or might not, be going on behind the scenes.
For more NFL lockout news, stay tuned to our NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL lockout continues on and as we approach June 1 it's fair to wonder whether any games will be missed. It's not clear when the NFL's deadline is to ensure no games are missed in 2011 but most predictions say it needs to be sometime in the middle of August.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote about the lockout and predicted there's currently a 70 percent chance games are missed because of the lockout. Most are predicting that the June 3 court case will favor the owners which will keep the lockout in place until the two sides get a deal done. Losing at least one game would likely mean the lockout goes into at least late August.
Farmer also wonders at what point the entire season is a wash.
In the strike-shortened 1982 season, teams played nine games. When the players went on strike in 1987, teams wound up playing 15 games, but three of those were with replacement players. If eight or more games are canceled this year, what's the point?
I agree. That would mean sometime in the first week of November we would need to have something done. Cris Collinsworth recently laid out what a shortened NFL season could look like and he said games would start the first week of November so that could be the last possible week in which games are played.
But, like most things with the lockout, we're just guessing. No one is really sure how this will turn out.
The 2011 NFL regular season schedule is set to kick off in 100 days but thanks to the NFL lockout we're not sure if those opening weekend games will even be played. The lockout continues to muddy all offseason discussions.
This week, on June 3, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from the NFLPA and the NFL as to whether the lockout should be lifted. The NFL of course wants it to remain in place because that would mean they'd hold significant leverage over the players. The last we heard from the Eighth Circuit strongly suggested the court would rule for the owners. The players of course want the lockout to be lifted so that they can go back to work.
If the courts decide to keep the lockout in place, then the future of the sport is in danger. That means that we wouldn't see football until the two sides worked out a deal (instead of waiting on the courts). In that scenario, a lot people think the season would be delayed.
If the courts decide to lift the lockout, then we're expected to quickly see the return of football.
The appeal will be heard on June 3 but a decision may not come for a few weeks, or even a month.
Apparently the Amicus brief submitted Wednesday by the NFL Coaches Association in favor of ending the lockout shouldn't be read as representative of all NFL coaching staffs. The Washington Redskins have released a statement claiming they never backed the brief. Skins coaches say they "stand united with ownership."
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, the statement is signed by 17 Washington coaches and seems to imply former linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti, who was hired in February by the Georgia Bulldogs, was the staff representative who supported the brief.
The motive behind this statement isn't immediately clear, though it could possibly have something to do with the coaches' own collective bargaining agreement. Or maybe Daniel Snyder had a problem with being publicly criticized -- a longshot, I realize. Or maybe Mike Shanahan is enjoying his time off just fine, thank you very much.
For more NFL lockout news, stay tuned to our NFL lockout StoryStream.
At the close of NFL spring meetings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about the upcoming court rulings that will determine the future course of the lockout the owners imposed in March. Goodell acknowledged that the fans are another side involved in this ongoing dispute:
"Fans want certainty," Goodell said. "We can't underestimate that the fans are going through challenges just in the general economy."
Goodell mentioned season tickets and suites as already affected by the lockout, but it's also much more than that if games are missed. Single-game ticket sales will also be hurt during the summer if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is not reach by the.
Most of the spring meeting covered the current state of the lockout as well as what business model the NFL needed to adopt. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sees the NFL as part of a larger whole that is undergoing change. Plans for opening weekend were discussed and are none of it is danger of needing alteration just yet.
Overall, the message was that the longer this goes on the more the fans, the owners and the players lose out on.
For more NFL lockout news, stay tuned to our NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL Coaches Association, which had been caught in the middle of the ongoing lockout as players and owners fought over money, has now taken a step off the fence. NFL coaches have filed a brief with the Court of Appeals in support of ending the lockout, thereby casting their lot with the talent.
Coaches are arguing that the lockout is harming their job security, as they're losing valuable preparation time for the (hopefully) coming NFL season. They allege economic harm and career risks and even use football lingo, saying the league is attempting an "end run" around a Supreme Court decision. We'll assume NFL coaches are among the few people on earth who actually know what an end run is.
This could be impactful news, as it's now essentially the entire league against 32 owners and one commissioner. It's certainly encouraging to see coaches stand up in support of their players, even if self-interest was also a major motivator.
For more NFL lockout news, stay tuned to our NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL's lockout rolls on, and with no sign of imminent resolution, the NFL has scratched the 2011 NFL Rookie Symposium off its calendar, a source tells ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The symposium, set to be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on June 26, likely becomes the first regularly scheduled NFL event cancelled of the lockout. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello cited "the uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium" as the reasons for cancellation. If the NFL can't reliably plan events a month in advance, though, that bodes poorly for planning a season should this lockout stretch into summer.
Furthermore, this only increases the chances that the 2011 NFL Draft class will be one of the league's more ineffectual crops of rookies. First-year players have already been hampered by a lack of permissible contact with coaches and team personnel, and face further losses of practice and training camp time. But the Rookie Symposium has been credited with helping many rookies be successful on and off the field, and removing it from the NFL's schedule disproportionately hurts this group of rookies.
Cornelius Bennett played for the Buffalo Bills from 1987-1995 as a linebacker, and he helped his team make four Super Bowl appearances during that run. He's stayed connected to his team and the community as he outlines in an article for Buffalo News about the NFL Lockout. Bennett talks about the importance of a team's connection to the fans in a city - especially small markets - and calls on the owners to end the lockout and negotiate with the players while things run like usual.
I was in those negotiation sessions representing the interests of former players but also looking out for my Bills franchise that I love so much. Players want to play, but we also want what's fair for the game. We believe in the connection between a city, its players and its team. A lockout erodes that connection.
Why can't the owners lift the lockout today so we can watch our beloved team grow on the field, while the sides resolve our business differences off of it?
In a perfect world, that's exactly what would happen. Unfortunately, in reality, things aren't that simple. If everyone got back to work with the old rules in place, players would have no incentive to negotiate as long as they were getting paid. The owners would probably want to stop paying the players if they refused to negotiate, which would bring us right back to where we started. So, thanks for the sentiment Mr. Bennett, but your proposition is next to impossible in practice.
It's widely believed that at least some NFL players are staying in touch with their coaches despite the NFL lockout barring contact between the two sides. With technology these days, it's hard to believe there isn't some player and some coach out there who will break the rules.
Several reports have indicated that contact between the two is going down but no one has been able to nail down any evidence of that. The NFL said they would be keeping an eye on such contact, as it's against the rules, and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells Clark Judge of CBSSports.com that, as of now, nothing has been found.
"Not at this point," said Greg Aiello, the league's senior vice president of public relations. "It's not an investigation, per se. We're monitoring what's taken place and follow up on various reports, then follow up on any specific information."
This is sort of like tampering. It likely happens all the time but it's hard to pinpoint specific evidence showing wrongdoing. And, as PFT pointed out, it's hard to punish one team when multiple teams are likely breaking the rules. It's a sticky situation for the league.
The NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith addressed graduating seniors from Maryland on Wednesday and invoked some music to help make his passionate point. Smith called on Gary Glitter's Rock And Roll (Part II) and asked those in attendance to sing along.
The result? The AP and SB Nation DC used the word "awkward" describing it.
The whole thing was incredibly awkward. The music wasn't playing very loud and it came out of nowhere, so nobody clapped along and nobody responded to Smith's rhetorical question. There's also the whole thing about how a keynote speaker is telling graduates to tell people that they suck. It was one of those things that sounded way cooler in theory than in reality.
Oh well. Just get us football back and I'm sure most folks would be more than happy to sing along with him.
That wasn't the only notable development from the speech. Just like Roger Goodell at the 2011 NFL draft last month. Smith was greeted with cheers of "We want football" from those in attendance. Goodell said, "I hear you" several times while the crowd booed and Smith said on Wednesday, "I want football, too."
Indeed, so do I.
Check out SB Nation DC for the full report on Smith's speech.
The NFLPA recently distributed to the players a timeline of the NFL lockout dating all the way back to 2007 when the league hired Bob Batterman, known for his work in the NHL lockout. According to the document, the league's hiring that "lockout lawyer" was the first step in getting to where we're at today.
The document includes highlights of the steps the league has taken over the last four years in reaching the point where we stand now.
It was May 2008 when the owners opted out of the CBA, which expired last March, and it was June 2008 when the NFL tried to remove Judge David Doty from jurisdiction. The same Doty that will soon be deciding damages in the TV contracts case. Historically, his rulings lean toward the players so the NFL isn't a big fan of him.
Speaking of the TV contracts, the document says the league started negotiating those in January 2009, long before the words "lockout" were in the average fans' mind.
The NFL first publicly talked about the 18-game season in March 2009 and brought it up in a bargaining session three months later.
One of the sticking points in the last round of negotiations was the NFL's reluctance to release financial information. Eventually, they gave in a little bit last March but not enough for the NFLPA at the time. The players had been actually asking for that information since May 2009.
The point is that this wasn't just one thing that caused the NFL lockout to happen -- it's been a four-year process. Unfortunately, neither side could get a deal done so we sit here without football for the time being. The document almost makes you depressed because it seems there were so many opportunities over the last four years to get something done.
Following the ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that the NFL lockout will remain in place until an appeal is heard on June 3, the general feeling among those who follow the NFL is that the owners will prevail and the lockout will go on for an unknown amount of time.
As fans who simply want to see football, that uncertainty isn't a good feeling. Most people aren't feeling good about the future of the work stoppage right now because the owners, who are implementing the lockout, could soon hold most of the cards.
There is some optimism though. Not a lot -- but some. Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports writes that the players aren't panicking with the perception that they're doomed.
The smart move would be to stay calm, counter the owners' most recent offer and attempt to negotiate a compromise that results in a new, multiyear CBA and leaves both sides feeling reasonably good about the outcome.
Based on my conversations with key figures on both sides of the conflict, I believe that's ultimately what will happen, despite the posturing from each camp.
Continuing in negotiations and agreeing to a new deal makes sense but, unfortunately, a lot of what's happened in the lockout doesn't make sense so I don't think you can count on that. But absent a surprising decision next month from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, a new agreement may be the only way we can secure football in 2011.
It's the uncertainty of it all that makes this so depressing.
The NFL got a big victory on Monday when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to keep the lockout in placethrough the appeals process while indicating along the way that the league will likely win the ultimate appeal. That gives the owners the leverage over the players at the moment.
The two sides met on Monday and Tuesday of this week but word comes that they've concluded their mediation sessions for the time being. Mediation was only scheduled for two days in the first place so this isn't necessarily a sign of anything.
The two sides will meet again in early June -- after the June 3 appeal hearing -- to continue mediation.
There was some hope that the two sides would continue mediation with the idea of agreeing to a deal. With the NFL's leverage right now, I thought the players may have been more prone to accepting a deal. I don't particularly care who has the leverage -- I simply want to see a new collective bargaining agreement signed so we can see football this offseason.
But it looks like June 3 will indeed be an important date. The ruling that comes from that hearing will determine whether the lockout will be lifted or if it will remain in place.
On Monday evening the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to keep the lockout in place throughout the appeals process. That means that the lockout could be here to stay through a June 3 court hearing and until a decision is made from the judges.
In their written opinion, the Eighth Circuit made it clear that the league is likely to succeed in the appeal in that June 3 hearing.
"[W]e have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League's lockout, and accordingly conclude that the League has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits."
This is why the lockout can be so confusing -- going from court to court drastically changes how the facts are interpreted. Nelson strongly sided with the players while the Eighth Circuit has strongly sided with the league.
This represents a major momentum shift as now the league arguably has the upper hand. And the league's strategy involves locking the players out so, if they have the upper hand, we're at their mercy when it comes getting football back.
That said, perhaps the best shot at getting football back as soon as possible is a new CBA between the two sides with the return to mediation this week. The league reportedly made an offer to the NFLPA on Monday night and the players are said to be looking it over.
Even if it's not much different than the last offer made shortly before the lockout, the players should strongly consider the deal. With the Eighth Circuit clearly leaning toward the league, the players have lost leverage. A deal with the league right now may be in their best interest rather waiting for the appeals process to play out.
A week before the 2011 NFL draft, Judge Susan Nelson lifted the NFL lockout sending the football world into a frenzy as we thought things like free agency and trades would soon be allowed.
As it turns out, the league was only open for a few hours the weekend of the draft before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a temporary stay on the appeal. In other words, the lockout was back on -- temporarily.
That was over two weeks ago and along the way we learned that the NFL's appeal to Nelson's ruling would be heard on June 3 by the Eighth Circuit. The question was whether the lockout would be lifted leading up to that June 3 date which would mean the start of the league year or if it would remain in place during that time frame.
According to Albert Breer of NFL Network. the Eighth Circuit has granted the NFL a stay which means the lockout will remain in place until the appeal is decided. Of the three judges, one dissented in the ruling.
As a fan, this is very, very frustrating. The NFL has turned into a year-round sport so, even though no games have been missed, it's disrupting the normal flow of the offseason. More importantly, we have yet to see free agency.
All of that will wait until at least sometime in June when the appeal is decided. Of course, it's also possible the two sides come to an agreement before then but that seems highly unlikely.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
NFL owners and players will descend upon Minnesota once again on Monday and resume mediation with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. As I've previously said, I'd rather the two sides be talking than not talking but this session of mediation seems to have both sides simply going through the motions.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports that the latest round of mediation isn't expected to result in a new agreement.
Privately, officials from both sides are saying this is a prototypical case of going through the court-ordered motions, just as both sides did during mediation in Washington, and as they did during the first round of mediation in Minnesota. They do it, as one source familiar with the negotiation process said, to give the public the appearance of trying.
Sigh. Unfortunately I believe Freeman is right. The strategy for both sides have been revealed and it includes waiting on a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling, whichever way it goes, will give one side a significant advantage moving forward so it seems both are content to simply wait on that ruling.
So we'll be hearing updates this week on how mediation is moving along but it's unlikely there are any real results from it.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Mediation is returning to the labor fight between the NFL owners and players. Reps from each side with meet with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan in MInneapolis for further negotiations although no one expects any progress to result from it.
Previously, I was begging each side to return to mediation because, simply, I figured sitting down and talking is better than not sitting down and talking. But now it's clear each side is waiting on the ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
If the court rules in favor of the players, the lockout coud be lifted and things like free agency could return to the game. The opening of the league year would also constitute a win for the fans. If the court rules in favor of the owners, the lockout could remain in place and we don't know what it would be lifted. That uncertainty wouldn't be the healthiest thing for the sport as the owners could potentially wait the players out into September as they begin to miss checks.
Lots of different things can happen but, as a fan, I want to see the lockout lifted as soon as possible. An actual collective bargaining agreement is the true best case scenario but, absent that, the courts ordering the lockout to end is what I want to see.
So mediation resumes but unfortunately neither side can be taking it too seriously with the Eighth Circuit's looming over them.
Stick around here for more NFL lockout news.
If you thought there was a chance that the relations between the NFL and NFLPA had gotten better in recent weeks, think again. NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith joined Boomer and Carton on WFAN in New York on Friday morning and updated folks on the status of the labor negotiations.
In the process he showed where the relationship between the two sides stands and it's not good. From the interview on WFAN Friday morning:
"The players understand the fight that they're in," said Smith. "Right now they don't want to lay down and be forced to take a deal. They don't believe that it's fair. I can tell you that they resent being lied to. They resent being tricked. They resent the fact that the league has been found now twice to have violated the law. So those are the people that we're inextricably tied to."
Check out the audio of his appearance here but that Smith and the players and the players feel as if they've been lied to doesn't speak well for future negotiations. These two sides will have to get together in the same room on Monday when mediation resumes and I can't imagine much progress is made.
Looks like we'll be waiting for the June 3rd court date to determine the future of the NFL.
When the NFL was negotiating its last round of TV contracts they included in their contracts a clause that would allow them to be paid even if there isn't a 2011 season. The money had to be paid back of course but the NFL lockout is a game of leverage and access to roughly $4 billion would give the NFL major leverage.
When the NFLPA brought that money into question, Special Master Stephen Burbank ruled that it did not violate the CBA. After that, Judge David Doty overruled Burbank saying that the contracts indeed violated the CBA (back when we actually had a CBA).
Doty heard from the NFL and NFLPA this week regarding the damages. The players are hoping that $4 billion is placed into escrow and Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com reports they are seeking over $700 million in TV money as well as unspecified damages.
The hearing has concluded and it's unclear when Doty will make his ruling.
The NFL lockout has officially become the longest work stoppage in NFL history. As pointed out by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the 58th day of the lockout has surpassed the 1982 work stoppage as the longest in pro football history.
Ugh. This makes me sick.
The NFL is at the height of its popularity and both the players and owners have allowed it to shut down. Make no bones about it -- both sides are to blame for this. Sure, each side has made some good arguments but it takes two to tango and both deserve the blame for what's transpiring here.
That this lockout has now become the longest work stoppage in history shows how ridiculous it all is. Even with the economy in recent years, the NFL has continued to grow at a strong rate almost as if its shielded from the happenings in the outside world.
We're stuck in football purgatory as we await a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision on the future of the lockout. The courts could rule sometime soon to lift the lockout or keep it in place prior to the June 3rd hearing in St. Louis. If they don't make that ruling, then we're stuck where we are now until that date in June.
So it's back to the waiting game for the fans who simply want to see their team line up on Sundays.
When it comes to the NFL lockout, we're still playing the waiting game. The entire football world is waiting on three judges in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision as to the status of the lockout.
Two weeks ago Judge Susan Nelson ruled to lift the lockout but the NFL of course argued that it should be kept in place until the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals could hear their case. That's where we stand right now -- the court is deciding whether the lockout will remain in place until that June 3 court case.
We're used to predicting what football decision-makers will do but predicting what a few judges will do is a completely different story. People like to talk about two of the three judges hearing the lockout case were appointed by a Republican president, which would generally favor the NFL, but it's also important to remember that the last judge to preside over the CBA -- Judge David Doty -- was a favorite among the players and was appointed by a Republican president.
So we don't know which way they'll rule, and we don't know when they'll rule. We as fans are doing the only thing we can throughout this whole ordeal -- waiting.
If the NFL is forced to open back up for business, there will need to be a set of rules by which everyone would follow. The last set of rules was set forth by the previous CBA but, since there's no CBA, the league needs rules by which to operate.
Many folks (myself included) have assumed that the league would more than likely operate under the 2010 set of rules. That would mean no salary cap and the threshold for free agency would be six years (as opposed to four) thereby limiting the amount of player movement.
The rules instituted by the league may not actually be the 2010 rules. Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports a group of league folks are creating a new set of free agency rules which could be "very different" from the 2010 set of rules. Kaplan reports it "might not alter [the] onfield game."
One of the biggest differences in free agency right now is that you need six years of service to qualify for free agency rather than just four years (pre-2010 rules).
It's important to note that the league could still revert back to the 2010 rules instead of creating new rules.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to the reports regarding the rules.
"Our goal has at all times been the same - to operate under a negotiated set of procedures that are agreed to by the clubs and the NFLPA. The current litigation has created a significant amount of uncertainty and we are therefore considering a wide range of alternatives depending on developments."
Translation: the NFLPA took us to court so may have to implement different rules for the 2011 season.
If only both sides could guarantee there would actually be a 2011 season...
Though things can change it doesn't appear we'll get a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the NFL lockout before Monday.
To get you up to speed, last week Judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout which caused the league to temporarily open their doors last Friday. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals then took a look at the case and opted to put the lockout back in place on Friday evening.
In the meantime, a June 3rd court date was issued to determine the fate of the lockout.
We're waiting on the Eighth Circuit to tell us whether the lockout will remain in place leading up to that date. If it does remain in place, then much of the offseason program will be eliminated. If it's lifted, then we could see things like free agency and trades rather quickly.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that a decision on the stay is not expected to come on Friday, nor over the weekend. That would mean the a decision would come on Monday, at the earliest. Of course, it may not come on Monday and we could be in limbo for even longer.
So we wait...again.
Since the NFL's schedule release last month, we've learned that the league has tweaked a few things in order to potentially buy themselves some more time if they can't come to an agreement with the players on a new labor deal.
By eliminating one of the two weeks between the conference championship games, and possibly the bye week, the NFL can extend the start date of the season.
But they still don't have an official "The season is in jeopardy" deadline set, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Chiefs fans on a conference call with their season ticket holders on Thursday.
"We dont have a specific date. There's some flexibiltiy if you took away bye weeks, or reduced the week between the championship and the Super Bowl. We would like to avoid that and get this uncertainty resolved and play the season as scheduled with all the dates already scheduled. We do not have a specific date on which we will be making those decisions. I hope we don't have to."
If there isn't a deal by July, then you have to start wondering if training camp will be compromised. And if there's not a deal by August, you have to start wondering when the start of the season will be compromised. And if there's not a deal by September, I think we'll be fully aware that the season is indeed in jeopardy.
It's a question that people have been asking lately:
What will Roger Goodell's legacy be after the lockout?
Pro Football Talk wrote this week that Goodell needs to start considering his legacy the longer this lockout drags on. Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports wrote that the players' resentment of Goodell is rising.
So what to make of this. With today's media world, every public back-and-forth between the players and owners is magnified. This isn't like 1987 where you get your daily newspaper and read the latest in the labor drama. It's 24/7/365 and everything the Commissioner says, or does, is put under a microscope. With Twitter, players can immediately (and publicly) react to what he says. Everything is emotional and everything is intensified.
In the end, though, will it all matter? Once football is back -- and it will be back -- will people remember the back-and-forth? Will they remember the finger-pointing?
I can see an argument for it either way though I think I'd lean to what Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said about this whole mess last week:
"We're in a business dispute right now with the players. That's all it is. It's nothing personal. When it's over, I know we'll go back to the great relationship that we had before it started."
Ignoring the idea that it's just a business dispute (because it's more than that), I tend to agree with this thought process. Right now, Goodell is the face of the lockout. But once the lockout is over, he represents the owners and players.
Time will tell.
It looks like the NFL lockout could continue for another few weeks. Chad Ochocinco and NFL Network's Albert Breer report via Twitter that the the NFLPA is expecting the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant the NFL a stay until the appeal is heard.
Let's get up to speed with where we're at on the lockout.
Last week Judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout which caused the league to temporarily open their doors for business on Friday morning. That only last a few hours as, by Friday night, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had granted a temporary stay, which essentially put the lockout back in place for the time being.
In the meantime, the NFL lockout hearing regarding Nelson's ruling to lift the lockout was dated for June 3. The question then was whether the lockout would remain in place until the case is heard on that date (and then waiting for the ruling after that).
And apparently the NFLPA expects the courts to rule that the lockout will indeed remain in place. This would mean no free agency, no trades and no signings until it is lifted.
So, it sounds like we're expecting at least another month of the NFL lockout....
Last week Judge Susan Nelson ruled to lift the NFL lockout, which lead to the NFL owners to temporarily lift the lockout on Friday morning. That lasted less than a day as the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday night -- during the 2011 NFL draft -- that the lockout would be temporarily reinstated.
We have a little bit more lockout news. The hearing on the NFL's appeal of the lockout injunction will come on June 3. This does not mean the lockout is or isn't lifted. In fact, that decision is still coming, possibly this week.
The June 3 date is simply the NFL's appeal to lifting the lockout, which came down last week. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will still rule (likely sometime this week) whether the lockout remains in place until that date.
Fans of football want to see the lockout lifted by the courts this week. That would open the doors and allow things like free agency until June 3.
So it's not the lockout news we're waiting on but it does mean we can mark June 3 as an important date in the lockout.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
On Monday, the NFL filed a brief with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to make the temporary stay granted on April 29 a permanent one. The NFL argued that Judge Susan Nelson, who lifted the lockout, should not preside over the case because it is illegal under U.S. law for federal judges to be involved in labor disputes.
The NFL continued to argue that "irreparable harm" would be done to the league if the lockout was not in place. If the lockout were to be lifted, the league argued, the right to implement their labor rules would be curtailed. Shortly before the lockout was back on, the league was set to advise the teams on how to conduct player trades and free agency, even though a Collective Bargaining Agreement would not have been in place.
The court will decide this week on whether to grant a permanent stay while it decides Brady, et al. vs. NFL on appeal.
Stay tuned here for more NFL lockout news.
In case you missed it, the NFL lockout is back on. Judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout last Monday and after residing for several days in the grey area, the league decided to allow players to go into team facilities and speak with coaches. But the players that came in on Friday morning were gone by Friday night when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to temporarily put the lockout back in place.
In case you thought on-again, off-again status of the NFL lockout over the weekend changed the way the owners felt about the legal proceedings, think again. The league continues to blame the players for walking away from the negotiating table. Patriots exec Jonathan Kraft spoke with WEEI in Boston and had more of the same to say about the lockout.
Here's a sampling of a recent interview he did in case you forgot what the owners say publicly on a daily basis:
The players, I know there is a lot of rhetoric that flies around about this, the players were the one's who got up from that table, walked out of the room, decertified, and filed an anti-trust lawsuit. That's the timeline and those are the facts.
Because at the end of the deal it's not going to get worked out through litigation and through a court system. It's going to get worked out when two business parties sit across the table from each other. We didn't start the legal proceedings. The players did and hopefully we can convince them that litigation isn't the right path and that negotiation is.
We were sitting at a table and negotiating. The players chose to get up from that table, with a real offer on the table. I don't believe it was an insulting offer. I know the head of the union [DeMaurice Smith] has called it the worst offer in the history of mankind or something like that and maybe it and maybe I'm missing it, but they chose to get up from that table, decertify, and start the legal proceedings.
We should be hearing from the courts this week whether the NFL lockout will continue or if it will be lifted.
The NFL lockout is back.
After several days in limbo, we now have some clarity on the NFL lockout. A judge has granted the NFL a temporary stay which means the lockout is back in place for now.
Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports first reported on Friday morning that the players were bracing for this ruling and it's expected to last until sometime next week. At that point, the court will hear the players' arguments as to why the lockout should remain lifted and make a decision.
Judge Susan Nelson originally lifted the lockout on Monday night and later denied the league's request for a stay. On Friday morning, the league started allowing players into the facilities and began allowing contact between players and coaches but didn't announce any plans regarding trades, re-signings or free agency.
And by Friday evening, have this news. So the lockout is back -- for now -- and we will focus on the NFL draft this weekend. On Monday, though, we'll be waiting to hear.
The NFL lockout has not been reinstated -- yet.
ESPN reported on Friday afternoon that the NFL had been granted a temporary stay and the NFL lockout would be reinstated, perhaps just through the weekend.
Now ESPN is taking it back and saying no decision has been made. It's still possible, though, that we see the lockout reinstated. Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports said on Friday afternoon that the players were bracing for a ruling that would put a temporary stay on the lockout.
According to a second source familiar with the ongoing legal maneuverings, members of the decertified NFL Players Association's executive committee received an email Friday from people involved with the plaintiff's side of the Brady et al antitrust lawsuit informing them that the Eighth Circuit would be making an announcement shortly. The announcement, the lawyers for the players concluded, would likely be a temporary administrative stay of Nelson's injunction.
So the NFL lockout hasn't been reinstated -- yet. Per Silver's report, it could be coming, though.
Stay tuned here for more NFL lockout news.
[Update: ESPN retracts their report. The NFL lockout has not been reinstated.]
Earlier on Friday morning Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports reported that the NFLPA was bracing for a stay of the injunction which would reinstate the NFL lockout.
And on Friday afternoon, that's exactly what they did. ESPN reports the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a temporary stay of the injunction which means, for now, the lockout is back on.
Silver's report indicates that this stay will be temporary.
The stay, according to a source familiar with the players' interests, would be of the "administrative" variety, meaning the lockout would not be lifted until Monday at the earliest. At that point, the Eighth Circuit would weigh the players' argument against a stay pending the league's appeal of Nelson's ruling to the Eighth Circuit and decide whether to keep the stay in place until they render a decision on the appeal.
On Thursday, the NFL announced players would be let into the building on Friday morning and contact between players and coaches would be allowed. It looks like that lasted less than 24 hours.
So it appears the lockout is back on -- at least through the weekend. On Monday, we should gain some more clarity on the status of the lockout.
Stay tuned for more NFL lockout news.
Where do we currently stand with the NFL lockout?
Judge Susan Nelson denied the league's request for a stay which prompted them to appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the meantime, the NFLPA has declared victory and demanded the league year start immediately. The NFL has done that -- sort of. They've opened the doors and allowed some contact between players and coaches but there hasn't been an announcement on things like free agency, re-signings and trades.
It's possible we may have to wait even longer for that. Via Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports:
I'm hearing from a pretty good source that a stay may be coming from the 8th circuit as soon as this morning.
A stay would keep the lockout in place -- for now. Considering both the players and the owners were bracing for the possibility of the league year, and things like free agency, to happen as soon as early next week, this would be a surprise.
Daniel Kaplan of SBJ puts the brakes on any talk about a stay at this point.
For anyone saying a stay is coming from the 8th circuit, no one knows. These are 3 anonymous judges right now. We have no insights.
As usual, we don't really know what's going on with the lockout.
Stay here for more NFL lockout news.
The NFL is indeed preparing to start the 2011 league year but with certain conditions.
The NFL released a statement announcing that they have requested a stay from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on the injunction issued by Judge Susan Nelson and that coaches can now begin talking with players with certain conditions. See the full statement here.
They announced that on Friday at 8:00 a.m. (ET), teams will be allowed to do the following:
-Players will be allowed in the building for physicals, rehab and other medical treatment.
-Teams can hand out playbooks and game film to the players.
-Coaches can meet with players to discuss the playbooks, game film and the offseason schedule.
-Voluntary offseason workouts can begin and players will be eligible for workout bonuses in their contracts.
-On non-workout days, players can use the facility to work out on their own.
-Mandatory and voluntary minicamps can begin.
-Those in the NFL's substance abuse or steroid programs can begin receiving counseling, rehab and treatment.
-Players can begin participating in team-sponsored charitable events.
As for other player transactions, like signings and trades, the NFL will send to all NFL teams a "comprehensive set of procedures governing such transactions. This will include the timing for the commencement of the 2011 League Year, free agent signings and other customary player transactions."
To reiterate, no player transactions will be happening until the league year has officially started, which would appear to be sometime soon.
The NFL lockout has been lifted by Judge Susan Nelson but the league has appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to keep the lockout in place. We're not sure what they'll rule but, according to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, agents and GMs around the league are bracing for the league year to start as soon as Monday.
That means the NFL would be completely open. Free agency could start on Monday. Draft picks could negotiate with their teams. Undrafted free agents would be eligible to sign with teams.
This would be a fairly incredible turn of events. I think many of us were bracing for the lockout -- and free agency -- to be delayed into August or September. Free agency has never come after the draft so it's unclear what kind of impact that would have on this weekend's 2011 NFL draft.
Nothing is official at this point but most expect the NFL, if they were put into this situation, to implement the 2010 set of rules. That would mean no salary cap (or floor) and the threshold for free agency would be six years.
This is a bizarre -- but also exciting -- time in the NFL right now. It's hard to imagine free agency starting in just a few days.
With Judge Susan Nelson denying the NFL's request for a stay on the NFL lockout, the NFLPA has sent a letter to all players indicating that the league year has begun. The immediate impact of this is that they believe things like free agency should start -- immediately.
Of course, it takes two to tango. NFL teams aren't required to sign free agents and the league has been operating as if the league year hasn't started yet.
In the letter sent to all NFL players, class counsel says the NFL is open for business.
Last night, Judge Nelson issued a 20 page decision denying the NFL's request to stay (delay) the injunction she issued on Monday in the Brady v. NFL litigation that the NFL must stop the lockout. The decision denying the stay is once again very strong, and rejected all of the NFL's arguments. Accordingly, the order ending the lockout is in full, immediate force.
The NFL has filed for an emergency stay with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, while the Eighth Circuit considers the NFL's stay request. Unless and until such a request is granted, however, we believe the 2011 League Year now has to begin; the Clubs must open their facilities to allow players to work out, meet with coaches and otherwise perform their jobs; and the NFL and the Clubs cannot collectively continue to refuse to deal with players. It is our view that the NFL and the Clubs will be in contempt of court if they do not comply with the order unless and until they hear differently from the Eighth Circuit. We will let you know later today what the NFL is going to do to comply with this order, and what the specific schedule will be going forward.
Your move, NFL.
The NFL's motion for a stay pending an appeal of the injunction handed down Monday has been denied. After a flurry of legal filings, Judge Susan Nelson made her decision on Wednesday evening, denying the league's motion to keep the lockout in place. Technically, it means the lockout is over for now, though the NFL will likely appeal the decision and ask for a stay from the 8th circuit appellate court.
The news came from Sports Business Journal's Liz Mullan.
The NFL has been in limbo since Nelson's ruling on Monday with a lockout not technically in place. The league proceeded with caution as some teams allowed players into workout facilities, but prevented players from working out or training due to liability issues.
The ruling means, in simple terms, Nelson felt the lockout was forcing players to suffer irreparable harm and the league was unable to prove otherwise with its motion for a stay. With the stay denied, the NFL and players will now need to formulate plans for an offseason, including free agency, trade and other rules typical of a normal year. It's yet unclear when the offseason will begin, but with the NFL Draft set to take place on Thursday, things could get wild in a hurry.
For the latest news, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream as we parse through what Nelson's decision means for the NFL.
The NFL filed its response to the players' request to immediately lift the lockout, allowing the offseason to begin immediately. On Monday, Nelson lifted the lockout by granting an immediate injunction, though both sides remain in limbo as they wait for a clear interpretation. In a four-page letter, lawyers for the NFL asserted creating rules for the offseason without a valid collective bargaining in place would violate antitrust laws. Lawyers for the NFL claimed the players were improperly trying to get Judge Susan Nelson to rule on antitrust matters, which are part of a separate, pending lawsuit.
Tom Brady and his fellow plaintiffs responded by withdrawing their motion to clarify because, they say, the NFL's letter made it clear it understands Judge Nelson's ruling and the league should start right away. You can excerpts from the filings, and interpretations from those who know the lay of the land and antitrust laws, here.
In doing so, the players "anticipate that the NFL Defendants will comply" with the order "at once." Their point: The league year should have started the second Nelson issued her injunction.
As a safeguard, the players have asked for $1 billion bond if Nelson grants a stay and allows the lockout to continue, at least temporarily. Nelson is expected make her ruling at some point in the next day, perhaps less. Until then, both sides are in a holding pattern with the 2011 NFL Draft looming.
For the latest on the legal wrangling, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream.
We're getting closer to having some clarification on where we stand with the NFL lockout. On Monday night, Judge Susan Nelson ruled to lift the lockout but the NFL is appealing that and requesting a stay, which is essentially asking to keep the lockout in place during the appeals process.
The players had a 9:00 a.m. (CT) deadline to file a brief opposing the league's motion to keep the lockout in place. Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the players brief says they shouldn't be "prevented from working one day longer."
Players' argument on why stay is unjustified: 1) NFL is unable to prove likelihood of success of appeal; 2) Failure to show harm suffered by injunction will be irreparable; 3) Grant of stay is not in public's interest; 4) Granting on injunction did not include "Substantial and Novel Legal Questions."
The players also requested that, if the stay is granted, the league should post a $1 billion bond, which is what they estimate the damages done if the stay is granted, pending their appeal.
The league has essentially been operating in the last day as if the lockout is still in place. They've allowed players into the building but they aren't signing free agents or getting involved in any player movement. The NFLPA obviously feels the lockout is lifted at the moment and business should be conducted.
Could free agency actually start this week?
The NFLPA certainly thinks it's a possibility.
NFLPA attorney Mark Levin sent a letter to all NFL players indicating that they believe the negotiation period has begun.
In a letter today to all NFL players, NFLPA attorney Mark Levin tells current free agents to have their agents immediately start contacting teams to shop their services. "unless and until that order is stayed, the clubs are NOT allowed to refuse to negotiate with you."
The NFL is hoping Judge Susan Nelson opts to keep the lockout in place, a ruling which could come down on Wednesday. If she doesn't, and the lockout remains lifted, then there could be some legs to this idea that free agency is starting immediately.
It seems that not many people are quite sure what's going on. The league is essentially operating as if the lockout is still in place until they hear from Judge Nelson. The NFLPA is operating as if the lockout has been lifted. It's a bizarre day to say the least.
We've seen some different reactions to Judge Susan Nelson's ruling on Monday evening that the NFL lockout has been lifted. Leadership from the NFL and NFLPA have said that they need a little bit of time to clarify what all of this means. We are expecting an announcement from Judge Nelson on Wednesday regarding the league's request to keep the lockout in place.
But until then it's been a bit of chaos around the league. Some players have gone to their team's facility and been let in, only to leave after a few minutes. Other teams have met the players at the door and told them they there aren't any workouts at the team facility until there is more clarity.
The New York Giants are one team that has allowed players in. Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger reports Giants LB Chris Canty was allowed into the complex, got a workout in and even spoke with coaches.
Many teams are allowing players into the building but aren't allowing them to work out so the Giants approach is a bit different. Plus, the league has reportedly told its teams that coaches can not talk to players.
It further confirms that no one really knows what's going on.
The NFL lockout has been lifted -- for now -- as we wait to see whether Judge Susan Nelson will put the ruling on hold. The NFL hopes she puts the lockout back in place but we likely won't find that out until sometime on Wednesday
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the players have asked Judge Susan Nelson to force the NFL to open for business immediately. That means allowing players into the facility and, at some point depending on the rules implemented, free agency.
The NFL has until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday to respond. Presumably the response is about setting league rules if the lockout remains lifted. Some expect the league to implement the set of rules used in 2010, which would mean no salary cap again.
Andrew Brandt of National Football Post predicts that it's unlikely we'll have a situation where the league year opens this week before or during the draft.
Nelson should rule by late tomorrow. If she rules for the Players, the NFL will request an immediate appeal to the Eighth Circuit to stay the injunction, which could take a couple to a few days. Either way, it is unlikely we will have NFL business during the Draft this week.
We're still in a wait-and-see mode with all of this and it appears it will stay that way until at least Wednesday.
The NFL lockout has been lifted which would suggest the new league has started and we're open for business again. Unfortunately, things aren't that easy. No one is really sure what's going on.
Judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout but the league, as expected, is requesting a stay -- basically they want the lockout to remain in place while they go through the appeals process.
According to the Associated Press, this grey area of the lockout being lifted, but a stay not yet being granted will remain for another day.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson has given the players until 9 a.m. Central time Wednesday to reply to the league's expedited motion for a stay that would freeze her decision pending further appeals.
So we'll be in limbo for another day.
The timing in all of this is very important as the NFL draft is only days away. If the lockout remains lifted, it's possible free agency could be coming soon -- very soon. Like this week.
Judge Susan Nelson's ruling on Monday night officially lifted the NFL lockout. For how long? We should find out today as the league goes through the appeals process but for at least a few hours on Monday night and a few hours on Tuesday morning the NFL lockout will be lifted.
That means players can enter their team facilities, which they weren't allowed to do during a lockout. Some players, like Panthers kicker Jon Kasay, are doing just that. Mike Cranston of the AP reports Kasay showed up to the Panthers facilities for about 10 minutes and then left.
Players aren't going to the team facilities to actually work out. They're showing up to possibly reserve the ability to sue if they don't get their work out bonuses. I say "possibly" because no one really knows what's going on (and anyone who says they do is probably guessing).
So at least one player has gone to the facility, hung out for a few minutes, and left. The league originally suggested they wouldn't be opening their doors despite Judge Nelson's ruling but has since told its teams they need to abide by the ruling and allow players in.
The league is appealing to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday so the facilities may not be open for long.
Judge Susan Nelson's lifted the NFL lockout on Monday, siding with the players and against the NFL.
It was a decision met by two distinctly different reactions from both sides, with the NFL slamming the ruling, as expected.
Also not surprising, that Roger Goodell would respond via the most corporate fat-catty way possible...a Wall Street Journal editorial piece.
Rather than address the challenge of improving the collective-bargaining agreement for the benefit of the game, the union-financed lawsuit attacks virtually every aspect of the current system including the draft, the salary cap and free-agency rules, which collectively have been responsible for the quality and popularity of the game for nearly two decades. A union victory threatens to overturn the carefully constructed system of competitive balance that makes NFL games and championship races so unpredictable and exciting.
Goodell goes on to explain that, in a nutshell, if the players get their way the sport will crumble like the Roman Empire.
That the piece is titled, "Football's Future If the Players Win" only drives home the message even further that the line in the sand being drawn between the two groups is the kind it's going to take years to repair.
Stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream for more reaction as it becomes available.
The NFL lockout was lifted following Judge Susan Nelson's on Monday evening and the NFL owners have filed their appeal and will request that the lockout stays in place during the appeal process.
But that ruling won't come down until sometime tomorrow so it appears for a few hours -- at least until Tuesday morning -- the NFL lockout is lifted.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says the league won't start the new league year until they have had the opportunity to seek a stay. But according to Judge Nelson's ruling the lockout is lifted right now so, in theory, they should be able to show up.
"I'm trying to get guys there at 8 o'clock, to get out there and show we want to be here, we want too be part of this organization and we want to be on the field," Ryan Clark told the Post-Gazette this evening. "We want to show this is not a litigation process but an attempt to have football in 2011."
Other coaches are operating as if the lockout is lifted, even if for a few hours, by contacting their players.
As SB Nation's Brian Floyd put it, this has a bit of a Wild, Wild West feel. It seems as if everyone is operating under a different set of rules.
Judge Susan Nelson's lifted the NFL lockout on Monday, siding with the players and against the NFL. It was a decision met by two distinctly different reactions from both sides, with the NFL slamming the ruling, as expected, and the players lauding it. The NFL is convinced it was in the right and a stay will be granted, allowing the process to continue, while the players called it a big win for themselves and fans of football.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was succinct and praised Judge Nelson's ruling on Monday. Smith touted the ruling as a big win for the players, and for fans of football everywhere.
"I’m happy for our players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners."
Osi Umenyiora was also happy with Nelson's decision and, like Smith, praise the ruling. Umenyiora vowed to keep the fight alive, but felt it was a win for the players and for fans of football. The ultimate goal, he said, was to see a full 2011 NFL season.
"Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011. The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love."
The NFL will continue to fight the lockout and will file a request for an immediate stay of the ruling as soon as Monday evening. A ruling may come in the next day or so, giving us a better idea of what's next for the NFL.
For the latest news and updates, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL lockout had prevented players and coaches from speaking as all lines of communications were cut-off by the work-stoppage. With a lockout in place, players were on the outside looking in, unable to even exchange greetings with coaches. Offseason activities, workouts and the use of team facilities were also off-limits, leaving players scrambling to work themselves into game-shape as the offseason dragged on. With Judge Susan Nelson's ruling on Monday, the rules changed, and lines of communication between players and coaches were suddenly reopened.
According to Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, some players and coaches are already taking advantage of the lifted lockout. In a smart move, position coaches are reportedly contacting their players in an effort to gain a quick advantage while they can.
was just told that some players have been contacted by their position coaches, who are capitalizing on this time of limbo. smart move?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyJim Trotter
The lines of communication could quickly be cut-off again, so it's a race against time for many players and coaches. The NFL will request an immediate stay, perhaps putting the lockout rules back into affect. If the stay is granted, players and coaches would, once again, be barred from speaking, just as they were before.
But for teams dealing with coaching changes, Monday is a prime time to distribute playbooks and get as much football information out as possible.
For the latest on the ruling, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL lockout ruling has gone in favor of the players and the lockout has been lifted. That doesn't mean all is normal in the league again as the NFL will appeal and seek a stay from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. In other words, they'll argue the lockout needs to stay in place.
The NFL confirmed as much in its statement following Judge Susan Nelson's ruling.
"We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."
Judge Nelson didn't agree with the league's "sham" argument when it came to the NFLPA's decertification. The NFL had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board arguing that the NFLPA's decertification was a "sham" and that they weren't negotiating in good faith. They argued that Nelson didn't have jurisdiction while the NLRB considers the complaint.
That's one of the core points of their argument yet Judge Nelson predicted the NLRB would "dismiss" that charge. From her ruling, she writes, "This Court finds that the disclaimer is not a mere tactic because it results in serious consequences for the Players." In other words, decertification is not a sham. And on the public comments by some players that suggested they were still operating as a union without being called a union, she wrote, "the offhand, anecdotal comments of individual players are inconclusive."
The NFL lockout ruling is in and it's a good one for the players. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports Judge Susan Nelson has ruled in favor of the players lifting the NFL lockout.
Unfortunately, this doesn't mean this mess is over. The owners will appeal and seek a stay. NFL Network's Albert Breer reports Judge Nelson declined to grant a stay for the owners so the league will now seek that from the 8th Circuit Appellate Court.
In English, the league wants to keep the lockout in place while they go through the appeals process. The NFLPA wants the NFL to open for business throughout the appeals process.
If the NFL does get their stay, then the lockout will remain in place while the appeals process is going on. That process could take several weeks to several months so this is an important part of the immediate future of football.
If the NFL does not get their stay, then the league will open and things like free agency will begin. The NFL will have to decide what set of rules will be in place but many people expect them to simply implement the 2010 set of rules.
The bottom line is that Judge Susan Nelson has ruled in favor of the players so the burden is now on the league to prove to the 8th Circuit Appellate Court that the lockout is legal.
Stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream for more as it becomes available. The NFL and NFLPA are both expected to make statements shortly and we'll have reaction to the news throughout the day.
The ruling on the NFL lockout is expected on Monday, according to various reports.
Judge Susan Nelson held the initial hearing on the NFLPA's move to lift the lockout over two weeks ago and said it would take a "couple weeks" for her to make a decision. Last week, reports surfaced that the ruling would be coming down on Monday.
Though no one knows which way she'll rule the early predictions are that it'll be in favor of the players. That means that she would lift the lockout. The NFL then would appeal, as would the NFLPA is the ruling went in favor of the league.
The question is whether Nelson will lift the lockout during the appeal or keep it in place during the appeal. If she keeps it lifted, then we could be seeing our regular offseason coming back -- free agency, trades, etc. That's what I'm hoping for because, frankly, an offseason without free agency isn't a very fun one.
Judge Nelson has a lot of leeway here and the thing to keep in mind is that no one really knows which way she'll rule and, if she does rule a certain way, what the provisions of her ruling will be. She has a lot of room to make a decision.
Either way, I just want some sort of decision so we can take the next step to getting football back.
The 2011 NFL schedule was released this week which caused some fans to wonder how the league could release a schedule for a season that, with the NFL lockout, doesn't currently exist. Nevertheless, the league needed to make plans for the 2011 season so they released the schedule last Tuesday.
They also included in the schedule a lockout plan. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the league has done several things on the schedule to prepare for a lockout.
First, every opponent in Week 3 has the same bye week later in the season. This means that if a lockout affects the season, they can make up at least one game later in the season during the scheduled bye week.
Second, the NFL can eliminate the one of the two weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl picking up another week in case of a lockout.
Third, the NFL has booked rooms at the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis for two weeks. This means they can push the Super Bowl back from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12.
That's three weeks the league can gain just from the way the schedule was constructed. So, the season really needs to start by Oct. 2 in order for no games to be compromised.
A ruling on the motion to lift the NFL lockout could be coming on Monday. Gary Myers of the NY Daily News (via PFT) reports he's "hearing" a decision could be coming on Monday so, while it's not set in stone, we may be getting closer to the next step in the lockout.
Myers also notes that the players are "heavy favorites" to win this round of litigation which isn't a major surprise either. After the hearing last week between the NFL, NFLPA and Judge Susan Nelson, that was the vibe many were getting.
Unfortunately, Nelson's decision won't be the last of the lockout. She could rule in favor of the players but the league would undoubtedly appeal which would leave us waiting once again. The real leverage comes from whoever wins the appeal.
The two sides entered mediation at the request of Nelson last week and that continued until Wednesday when Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan, who was presiding over mediation, adjourned the two sides until May 16.
With a "breakaway" group of players potentially seeking their own representation in the lockout, time is critical for the players.
Well, that didn't take long.
Mediation between the NFL owners and players has ended -- for now. Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the two sides have adjourned until May 16.
We're not quite sure what this means. Not many people thought the two sides would come to an agreement via mediation, whether that was this week or next month. But at the very least I liked having the two sides talking. There's still a bit of optimism in me so I would prefer that they continue to hash out whatever they need to hash out.
In the interim, Judge Susan Nelson will presumably make a decision on the motion to end the lockout, at which point the other side would likely appeal. Exactly two weeks ago, she said a decision would come down in a couple of weeks so we should be hearing something relatively soon.
At this point, I want some sort of decision. We're a long ways away from having any finality to this situation but Nelson's ruling could help us take another step to ending it.
Publicly both the NFL and NFLPA have done as much as they can to present a unified front and to avoid a situation where they'll break down internally exposing a weakness for the other to attack.
It's possible that that weakness has already hit the players.
According to Daniel Kaplan of SBJ, there is a group of "as many as 70 players" who are close to signing with a law firm to intervene in the Brady v. NFL case. They're not looking to contest the case but they want a seat at the table. Kaplan reports that this group of players is said to be unhappy that mediation talks broke off last month in Washington D.C. The players decertified then and the owners locked them out shortly thereafter.
Kaplan reports this would be the first "evidence of [a] rift among the players." The NFL has 32 (wealthy) owners while the NFLPA has nearly 2,000 (not as wealthy) players so internal conflicts are much more likely with the players. I think that's something everyone knew heading into the lockout.
Last month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all NFL players describing the last deal the league had offered the union. It appeared Goodell was attempting to persuade the players their leadership turned away from a good deal and it also appeared the purpose of that letter was to fracture the players' unity getting them to question their own leadership.
Kaplan notes in his report that this is a group of "mid-tier" players hoping to file this motion with Judge Susan Nelson, perhaps as soon as this week.
It was April 6 that Judge Susan Nelson heard from both the NFL and NFLPA before saying she would make a decision in a "couple weeks".
Well, here we sit on April 20 exactly a "couple weeks" later.
There hasn't been an indication that any sort of announcement or decision is coming from the courts. Likely, we won't have much of a heads up if/when she decides something anyway.
Since Nelson's "couple weeks" remarks, she has forced the NFL and NFLPA into mediation and the two sides are entering day four of mediated talks in Minneapolis. Though there's not a lot of optimism that a deal will be reached via mediation, count me as one of the folks that are happy that the two sides are simply sitting at the same table.
We should be able to tell if there's any sort of progress between the two sides. If Nelson comes out and makes a decision (which will undoubtedly be appealed by the other side) then we can assume that the two sides hadn't made much progress. If she continues to delay her decision, then perhaps that means she feels the two sides are making genuine progress.
The 2011 NFL schedule was released on Tuesday night which provided a much needed escape from the daily lockout grind for the fans. Let's hope that momentum continues into mediation.
Several more NFL owners will be attending Tuesday's mediation session in Minneapolis after just four showed up last week. Joining the Chiefs' Clark Hunt, Patriots' Robert Kraft, Panthers' Jerry Richardson and Steelers' Art Rooney will be the Cowboys' Jerry Jones, Broncos' Pat Bowlen and Packers president Mark Murphy.
One large name for the players will be missing on Tuesday -- DeMaurice Smith. The former union head has a family emergency and won't be able to attend the mediation session. Let's hope his absence won't slow down any progress the two sides are (or could be) making.
The two sides will resume mediation on Tuesday after a weekend break. They were together for approximately 10 hours on Thursday and then 3-4 hours on Friday. They left for the weekend with some homework from Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan so let's hope they both got it done and they're ready to make some progress.
The last few weeks we've been saying that step one in solving the NFL lockout is to get the two sides in the same room. It seems simple but when each side is taking swipes at the other publicly, simply getting them to sit down at the same table is a large task.
So Judge Susan Nelson ordered them to sit down and talk while Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan will mediate the talks.
But is all this talking doing any good?
The early predictions are that it's not. Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com writes that several sources from both sides said this round of mediation feels like the last round, which resulted in some progress but no deal.
Several participants from both sides privately used a two-word expression to describe the first few days of mediation: déjà vu.
That's because, to some, it felt the same as mediation under George Cohen in Washington. Two entrenched sides, neither wanting to be there, both stalling for the inevitable court ruling to come but wanting to keep up appearances that they're trying to mediate a deal.
Each side has been so public about their positions that giving in on anything could be a public embarrassment. For example, could the players ever agree to 18 games as some sort of concession for something larger? Probably not because they've spent a lot of time campaigning against that and, publicly, it would look like they were backing down.
So while I'm glad the two sides are at least in the same room talking, it doesn't sound like we'll be seeing results from it.
The NFL and the NFLPA are getting along well enough that they can sit in the same room and talk.
Under the supervision of a judge, of course.
The two sides met on Thursday for approximately 10 hours with Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan and then again on Friday for 3-4 hours. Albert Breer of NFL Network reports the two have taken a weekend break and will resume talks on Tuesday.
Judge Susan Nelson has instructed both sides to avoid talking to the media and for the most part they've followed that. For fans, this means we won't be getting a boatload of updates throughout the day on how the talks are going. But in the interests of getting a deal done between the two sides, silence is probably the best method.
That the two sides are talking is a good sign. Whether it results in a deal is a whole other question. The mediatior can get them to talk -- they made progress at the last round of negotiations -- but he can't force them to a deal.
The NFL owners and the players returned to mediation on Thursday for over nine hours, but all the public knows is that the two sides had to begin "fence-mending," according to NFL.com's Albert Breer. This was the first time since March 11 that the owners and the players met face-to-face to negotiate over the current labor impasse.
While Commissioner Roger Goodell did not speak on the specifics because of a confidentiality pledge, we do know that the sides will meet on Friday for another round of talks. That the NFL's group consists of the commissioner, the general counsel and four owners could be taken as a sign that, at the very least, the sides do want to deal with real issues during the mediation.
The players' group includes the NFLPA's DeMaurice as well as several current players and Carl Eller, a retired player who brought a suit against the NFL. Eller's case has been consolidated with the other ones.
While both sides negotiate, Judge Susan Nelson will take her time to decide on the players' request for an injunction. This could take a couple of weeks, if not longer.
For more on whether pro football still exists or not, stay tuned to this NFL lockout StoryStream.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell plans to announce the league’s 2011 regular season schedule soon, but has said that the ongoing labor impasse could affect the Super Bowl. Too far, Mr. Goodell, too far.
“We prefer not to do it, but you always have that option,” Goodell said. “Right now, we want to play the sechedule as its laid out.”
The game is scheduled to be played Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, but Goodell says it could be moved back a week to Feb. 12, making for the most-forgotten Valentine’s Day ever. It’s already weird enough that the league plays its final game in early February now.
He also said the NFL could remove the traditional bye week between conference championship games and the Super Bowl, which would infringe on the Pro Bowl’s turf. Think of the Pro Bowl, Minneapolis mediators.
For more on whether pro football still exists or not, stay tuned to this NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL and NFLPA are meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday morning to begin round two of the mediation process. The two sides previously conducted mediation under George Cohen at the FMCS for 17 days but this time around the process will take place in Minneapolis under Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan.
The NFL owners representation has arrived at the courthouse and among those present are the league's lawyers, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners Clark Hunt (Chiefs), Jerry Richardson (Panthers), Robert Kraft (Patriots) and Art Rooney (Steelers).
Among the players contingent includes more lawyers, including the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith. He was recently added to the players team of lawyers so that he can represent them at mediation. Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel and Vikings LB Ben Leber are among the players in attendance.
The two sides will begin the mediation process with each other on Thursday after each side met separately with Boylan the last two days.
Optimism among those on the outside isn't high that mediation will result in a deal.
The NFL and NFLPA should be able to sit down in the chambers of Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan and get right down to business on Thursday morning because they've been here before.
The two sides will meet with Boylan on Thursday for their first mediation session together in Minneapolis. Previously, the two sides had spent 17 days mediating with George Cohen at the FMCS in Washington D.C. But Judge Susan Nelson, who is handling the latest case, ordered the two back to mediation and that will start on Thursday morning.
Each side has already met with Boylan to brief him on their arguments -- the NFLPA on Tuesday and the NFL on Wednesday.
While Judge Nelson can't force the two sides to come to an agreement, this is the next best move. Mediation didn't work last time but as this one is under the watchful eye of Judge Nelson so there's a slight hope that it will push the two sides to a deal.
Most, though, are pessimistic that anything comes out of mediation. Many think Judge Nelson will simply need to make her ruling. Last week she said that would take a couple of weeks.
The NFL and NFLPA will soon be at the same table. They won't necessarily be agreeing to a new deal but they will at least be talking in the same room, which is about all we can ask for at this point.
The players and their lawyers are meeting with Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan in Minneapolis on Tuesday morning where they'll be giving their side of the current legal entanglement they find themselves in with the league.
According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the players contingent included Carl Eller and lawyers Jeffrey Kessler, Jim Quinn and Barbara Berens.
The owners meanwhile will meet with Boylan in his Minneapolis chambers on Wednesday morning where they'll be briefing him on their arguments.
By Thursday morning, the two sides will be in the same room talking. Boylan is serving as the mediator and while he can't force them to sign an agreement he may have more power under the watchful of eye of Judge Susan Nelson than George Cohen last month at the FMCS.
Over the weekend news broke that Judge Susan Nelson would be forcing the NFL and NFLPA back into mediation. The question from there was whether it would be under the auspices of George Cohen from the FMCS, who conducted the first round of mediation in March, or under another judge appointed by Nelson.
The answer is the latter: Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan will be conducting mediation with the two sides in Minnesota.
Boylan will meet with the players representatives on Tuesday morning and the owners on Wednesday morning. Both sides must present a brief by Monday afternoon and mediation will begin on Thursday.
This will be interpreted as a win for the players as this is the mediation set-up that they wanted. Both sides had previously agreed to mediation but the owners wanted Cohen, while the players wanted someone appointed by Nelson.
The players argument was that mediation under Cohen hadn't worked the first time and the NFL wants to eliminate federal oversight. The owners argument was that Cohen had a 17-day head start on anyone else from their previous mediation sessions.
The key to remember here is that while Nelson can order the two sides to sit down and talk, she can't order them to agree. As Mark Maske of the Washington Post wrote: "Not much optimism anywhere in the sport, it seems, that the upcoming round of mediated talks will lead to a deal."
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Judge Susan Richard Nelson has told the NFL and NFL players that she will impose forced mediation on them early this week.
While the league wanted mediation to continue in Washington D.C., and the NFL Players’ Association wanted mediation to continue in Minnesota. Judge Nelson will decide what she feels is best and announce her decision early this week. After the Friday conference call, Judge Nelson also told both sides to be quiet.
Nelson previously recommended that mediation continue under the oversight of the federal court of Minnesota, but that announcement has not been officially made.
This is good news for fans, first and foremost. These two sides might not have a choice but to figure out a solution if Judge Nelson has any say. If there were ever a time for football fans to love the judicial system, this would be it. We’ll find out more about the official announcement soon.
The NFL and NFLPA will conduct a conference call with Judge Susan Nelson on Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. to discuss mediation. The two sides have both expressed a willingness to enter into mediation but, as it is with most issues between the two sides, there are still some disagreements.
The NFL would like to return to mediation under George Cohen at the FMCS while the NFLPA wants to return to mediation under the federal court. That the two sides want to sit down and talk could be construed as progress, but that they can't decide on the venue for those talks can be construed as more of the same.
As I've previously said, I think fans should want Nelson to force the two sides to sit down and talk. Whether that comes from Cohen or from someone else Nelson assigns doesn't matter much to me. I just want the two sides at the same table.
On the conference call will be lawyers for both sides. Here's to Judge Susan Nelson getting them to sit down at the same table.
The NFLPA is ready and willing to talk with the NFL. The NFL is ready and willing to talk with the NFLPA.
But, as has been the case lately, both sides are having trouble deciding on the manner in which those talks will take place.
On Wednesday, Judge Susan Nelson urged both sides to return to mediation. The NFLPA issued a statement indicating that they'll accept Judge Nelson's recommendation that the two sides return to mediation.
The class of NFL players wrote to Judge Susan Nelson today, embracing her recommendation to participate in mediation under the oversight of the federal court of Minnesota. Though the injunction to lift the owners' lockout remains under Judge Nelson's consideration, the players took to heart her advice given during Wednesday's hearing that the two sides should not delay to meet. The players expressed their hope that mediation under court oversight will begin immediately.
I bolded that section because it's an important distinction -- mediation under the federal court in Minnesota vs. mediation under George Cohen at the FMCS. The players prefer the former, while the owners prefer the latter.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the players are not interested in returning to the table under Cohen's mediation, even if the NFL assured them (which they reportedly did via a letter on Thursday) "they would not compromise any legal position if they agree to return to mediation with Cohen." NFL lawyer David Boies said publicly following Wednesday's court session they are interested in collective bargaining under Cohen.
As a fan who is interested in seeing football, I think I'd prefer the NFLPA's version of mediation. Judge Nelson would have the authority in that scenario to at least keep them at the same table -- even if it's not necessarily a settlement -- whereas the NFL's version of mediation would include Cohen, and we've been there and done that. It didn't work. While I'd like to think the NFL and NFLPA may view mediation under Cohen in a different light the second time around, what's the guarantee?
That said, at the end of the day, I don't really care how they sit down and talk. They just need to do it at some point.
And it's kind of ironic that over the last few months I've been hoping these two sides would get a deal done without getting the courts involved. Now that a Judge is in the middle of it, I'd prefer that she use her authority to push the two sides to start talking.
And the NFL lockout story continues.
On Wednesday, a court hearing took place in which the NFLPA is attempting to block the lockout implemented while the league is arguing it should stay in place. According to various reports, Judge Susan Nelson urged both sides to return to mediation while she takes "a couple weeks" to decide the future of the case.
On Thursday, Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal reported the NFLPA will send a letter to the league requesting federal court-mediated settlement talks.
That sounds like a good first step -- unfortunately it's likely more of the same.
Each side says they want to talk but it's the manner in which those talks take place that they disagree. The NFLPA, which has decertified, wants to enter into settlement talks for the Brady v. NFL lawsuit. The NFL would also like to enter into talks but, because they haven't recognized the union as decertified, they want to enter into collective bargaining with a union.
So the NFLPA's letter certainly sounds like they want to talk it out, but it likely will result in more of the same.
Like most NFL fans, we followed the coverage of Wednesday's NFL lockout hearing via Twitter as various reporters sent out updates throughout the day. Live tweeting and/or reporting was not allowed during the hearing so that's about all we had to go on.
Judge Susan Nelson heard each sides arguments and said she would take a "couple weeks" to decide which way this will go. The NFL draft is on April 28 so it'll be interesting to see when her decision comes down because free agency could potentially be coming shortly after it.
Leading the way for the NFL was lawyer David Boies and for the NFLPA it was Jim Quinn. Boies received most of the questions from Nelson as Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe said a rough estimate was Boies speaking for 3.5 hours and the others combined for about one and a half hours. Boies said he wouldn't look too much into that, according to Bedard.
Nelson reportedly urged the two sides to consider mediation but, according to various reports, it doesn't sound like that will happen.
Simplifying things, the NFLPA's argument is that they want the lockout blocked and for the players to return to work ASAP. The NFL argues that any ruling from Nelson should wait until the NLRB makes a ruling. The NFL filed a complaint earlier this year with the NLRB alleging the NFLPA was not negotiating in good faith. The NFL also argues that the NFLPA did not decertify properly, thus they do not recognize their decertification.
Ravens WR Derrick Mason has been a vocal critic of the NFL as the owners and players continue to figure out the next collective bargaining agreement. Mason's latest shot at the NFL is aimed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and it gives us a glimpse of what these two sides think about each other right now.
Speaking on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore this week, Mason was asked about HGH testing, which is a topic Goodell has recently addressed.
"He's been on the crusade about HGH, but he needs to be on a crusade about getting these owners together and trying to work out a deal. He's to me is just....he's a joke. He's a joke because every time I look he's talking about performance enhancements instead of trying to figure out a way to make sure football is played in August."
Tell us how you really feel, Derrick. That one side has (or continues to) resort to name-calling doesn't bode well for the two sides to do the most logical thing -- sit down and negotiate.
"Yeah I mean he's no kin to me . He's grown man and I'm a grown man, but you know we're walking around and he's talking about performance enhancements and keeping the sport clean, which is a big thing, but I think right now you know the fans don't want to hear about that. That's the last thing they want to hear about. They want to hear about what are you doing as a commissioner to get both sides together to try to work out a deal and you're going around and you're talking about other things as opposed to putting together two sides and trying to work out a deal."
Though I don't agree with calling Goodell a "joke", I do agree with Mason's overall point that fans don't want to hear about HGH testing right now -- they want to hear that a deal is done and there will be football in 2011.
The future of the NFL lockout is up in the air as representatives for NFL owners and players gather in Minnesota on Wednesday. The players have filed a preliminary injunction to block the owners' lockout. The case will be heard by Judge Susan Nelson in St. Paul, Minn. in federal court.
A players victory in this case would essentially block the lockout and force the NFL to open their doors. If that happens there's plenty to still figure including what rules would be govern the league but it would likely be the most recent set of rules (2010 season).
The NFL meanwhile has argued that the NFLPA's decertification is a sham and would rather have the NLRB rule on a complaint filed earlier this year.
Many legal experts don't expect a ruling right away. Instead, many expect Nelson to wait a week to several weeks before ruling which could mean we don't hear anything until after the draft.
The most urgent reason to block the lockout is to A.) get the players paid, B.) conduct offseason workouts and C.) allow free agency to happen. While the owners have large debts to pay on some of their stadiums, the players likely can't last as long financially, despite the NFLPA's lockout fund.
Though it's not as black and white as I'll make it seem, fans should be pushing for the players to prevail here. That means getting closer to starting free agency, offseason workouts and, eventually, a season.
It's been known for some time that the NFL favors HGH testing in the next labor deal between the NFL owners and players. In February, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello was quoted as saying that the league was "taking steps to incorporate it into our program."
Speaking to high school kids about the dangers of steroid use, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once again said the league wants to implement HGH testing in the next labor deal.
After appearing Monday with U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings at a high school to speak about the dangers of steroid use, Goodell said the NFL needs to do more to keep banned substances out of the sport. HGH use is prohibited by the NFL, but the league currently does not test for it. Goodell said he thinks players "recognize the importance of" adding HGH tests.
At this point, I would love if the two sides were debating the merits of HGH testing. If that were the case then it means they would actually be talking. As of now, they're not.
We'll see how the NFLPA responds to this. There's not a reliable urine test available and the players have previously shied away from any testing that includes drawing blood.
At the beginning of March the league and the union couldn't come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement causing the players to decertify as a union and the league to implement a lockout. Basically, those actions turned things to the courts.
Shortly following that, many of the NFL's 32 teams sent out an organized message to their fans and nearly every one included a message that it was the players, and not the owners, who walked away from the negotiating table.
The players, according to multiple sources, planned to meet with the owners March 28 and spend the week settling this mess. All that had to be done was have a short document go to federal judge Susan Nelson's court saying that the NFLPA's executive board would serve as advisors. The NFL's answer was no.
The NFL wants to collectively bargain and not recognize the union's decertification. The union isn't interested in that because it would potentially be evidence used against them that decertification was a scam. Instead of the two sides drafting documents that would allow them to continue to negotiate without the talks being used against each other in a court of law, they have decided not to talk.
If this is accurate, it's a frustrating move on the part of the owners. It seems that the best possible way to get a deal done is to simply sit down and talk. The two sides were reportedly making real progress during federal mediation and sit just (just?) a few hundred million dollars apart.
Instead of camping out at the federal mediation building in Washington D.C. as these two sides talk it out, we'll be waiting for a court ruling.
Players are being put in an unusual predicament this year with the 2011 NFL draft and the NFL lockout. On the one hand, most players have a dream of walking across the stage at the draft. On the other hand, they'll be shaking the hand of the Commissioner who represents the owners in the middle of a labor dispute between owners and players.
It's not an easy decision to decide to attend the NFL draft but several players have already said they'll be there, including Texas A&M LB Von Miller. Here what he said in ESPN's report:
I'm honored to get an invitation and I plan on being there," said Miller. "It's always been a dream of mine, having my name called and being able to walk across the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner [Roger Goodell]."
What's unique about Miller is that his name is on a lawsuit against the NFL. He'll be in attendance at an April 6th hearing for that lawsuit and then just a few weeks later he'll be walking across the stage and shaking Roger Goodell's hand.
This is a tough one to figure out from Miller's viewpoint. It almost seems hypocritical for Miller to, on the one hand, sue the league, and, on the other hand, be part of the draft. It's sort of like having it both ways. That said, Miller said he doesn't feel it's hypocritical.
Update: NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy reports via Twitter that the NFL players can attend public events at stadiums, including concerts. So the post below is inaccurate. The previous headline to this story was: "NFL Lockout Also Eliminates Some Concerts For Players"
On a daily basis we learn something new about the NFL lockout. Can Tom Coughlin send Eli Manning a congratulatory note on his new baby despite the NFL lockout rule that coaches and players can't talk? Can injured players still work with team doctors?
Here's a new one: can players attend concerts at NFL stadiums? They can't go to the stadium to work out but can they go there for fun? The answer is no, according to Kenny Chesney (via Star Tribune) who is on tour this summer.
Now that country's biggest concert attraction has hit the road again, pro football players can't see him perform at NFL stadiums because of their contract deadlock with league owners. "If you're in the NFL [players union], you can't go to your stadium, you can't work out at your stadium, you can't talk to your coaches," says Chesney.
Chalk this up to the NFL lockout and the sometimes illogical rules that come with it. Players can reportedly go to NFL stadiums for charity events but they can't go for a concert.
Does that make any sense?
If you haven't noticed, the NFL has put the full court press on their PR efforts in recent weeks and the latest comes via a post on NFLLabor.com, the league-run labor website, which details all the contributions the NFL makes to the players.
Aside from the nearly $2 million average salary of NFL players, the NFL clubs also fund a wide range of benefits and programs to support players and help them not only during their NFL careers but in making the transition to their post-NFL lives.
The league then went on to list everything they do for the players from insurance to performance based pay to postseason pay. Personally, I think this comes across as a little self-serving. The league should know that fans care about one thing and that's football in 2011. I don't mean to sound harsh here and indicate I don't care what the league does for the players but we all know this is simply a PR game at this point.
As it usually is, there's another side to the story. The NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith noted to SB Nation in an interview earlier this month that the league also saved $320 million when they didn't have to pay non-health care benefits. That's actually just the tip of the iceberg as Sports Business Journal reported last November.
The NFLPA has responded to the league's latest PR sweep with this statement:
NFL players would like to thank the NFL for issuing a press release touting their contractual and legal obligations. If it wasn't for players, namely John Gordy, players wouldn't have any benefits. The next press release that comes from the NFL should announce that the owners have lifted the lockout, the ultimate benefit to players and fans.
I'm not siding with the players -- I've been pretty consistent in saying both sides deserve blame -- but this latest statement nailed it. The next press release should be announcing that football has indeed been saved.
Reports leaked out that the NFLPA was set to have a 2011 NFL Draft event on the Saturday of the draft, not to conflict with the league's televised draft coverage, but a new report from ESPN's Adam Schefter has clarified the NFLPA's plans. The NFLPA, who are holding a separate draft event due to the NFL lockout, will now be holding their event over three days, from April 28 through April 30. As was previously suggested, their event will not conflict with the television coverage of the draft.
It's not a gimme that a majority of draftees will attend the NFLPA event instead of the draft itself. As we already reported earlier today, Adrian Clayborn is going to attend the draft. That's because, as Schefter points out, there's an interesting rule that throws a wrench in things.
Attendance for the players' association's events could be affected by a policy that allows draftees to interact with the team that drafted them up until the end of the draft on April 30.
It will be interesting to see which players opt to attend the draft and which players decide to skip out.
Last month a report came out that the NFLPA was telling incoming rookies not to attend the 2011 NFL draft in New York City. Their reasoning, according to the reports at the time, was that they didn't want these rookies to walk onto stage at Radio City Music Hall and shake hands with the man -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell -- who was locking them out.
The reaction was loud and angry. Fans didn't like it, many current players didn't like it and even several incoming rookies said they would attend if asked.
One player, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, was asked to attend. He wrote on his Twitter account last week:
"Just got my invitation to radio city on April 28th!!! Decisions decisions! To be with my family and friends or to experience sometimes I always wanted to! Tough tough."
Apparently he's made the decision. Clayborn's latest tweet says he's headed to New York:
"Accepted my invite to the draft this morning! Exciting stuff. Alot of work to put in before then tho."
So that's that. We'll see if others follow suit -- I'd guess many of them will.
The NFLPA is hosting a series of events on draft weekend for the players that won't conflict with the draft. So if they want to attend, they can. That said, some are wondering if there's some unspoken pressure from veteran players not to attend the draft.
For Clayborn, he's not feeling that pressure.
When negotiating their last set of TV contracts, the NFL added a clause that would pay them even in the event of a lockout, which was dubbed "lockout insurance". The use of that money has since been ruled out by the courts but the NFLPA has a similar idea that's slightly more legal.
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports the NFLPA has set up a "Lockout Fund" for players who may need the assistance this summer. In 2009 and 2010 players contributed to a fund to prepare for a lockout and those that were on rosters in that time will be eligible for payments up to $60,000.
"We are e-mailing you to inform you that the NFLPA Board of Player Directors approved the payout from the Lockout Fund to begin on April 15, in six installments or until the lockout ends. In order to start receiving your payments, please fill out the attached direct deposit enrollment form and return it to us with a voided check from your checking account or bank letter verifying the account information. We will e-mail you at the address that you provide on the form when payments are sent to your bank account.
"Please note that any other future payments that you may receive from the NFLPA or NFL PLAYERS Inc (for example player marketing deals or royalty payments) will be deposited into this account and you will be notified via email of the deposit."
Earlier this month Chiefs G Brian Waters, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee, suggested creating an anonymous lockout fund to which veterans could contribute to help out some of the younger players. As far as we know, that wasn't set up. Instead, we'll see this "Lockout Fund".
Word leaked out several weeks ago that the NFLPA was considering running a 2011 NFL draft event at the same time as the actual draft at Radio City Music Hall. The reasoning was apparently because the NFLPA didn't want the incoming rookies to shake the hand of the Commissioner that is locking them out.
Many fans, and several incoming rookies, have voiced their objection to that idea. The NFLPA has, for the most part, been mum about the whole thing.
Dan Graziano, formerly of AOL FanHouse, reports that the NFLPA will indeed hold a draft event -- but it won't run at the same time as the actual draft. He reports that the players will hold some sort of event on Saturday night. The NFL draft runs from Thursday to Saturday.
It's still unclear if the players will be at the draft in Radio City Music Hall. Traditionally, players expected to be picked high in the draft would attend and walk across the stage and shake Roger Goodell's hands.
Several weeks ago word leaked out that the NFLPA was going telling incoming rookies who were invited to the draft to decline the offer and join in some sort of NFLPA event. The reasoning was that the NFLPA didn't want incoming rookies to be shaking hands on draft day with the man that was locking them out, Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The backlash came quick and heavy. Not many folks were in favor of this plan because, up until that point, the draft was our safe haven from CBA talk. My take is that the NFL draft was in the last CBA, and it was agreed upon that it would happen with or without a lockout, so both sides need to treat it as they normally would.
The NFLPA, after the negative backlash, may be changing their plans. Peter King of SI.com reports the NFLPA has a meeting on Monday to decide what they'll do. We're not sure what the final decision will be but King reports that he expects some sort of "welcome-to-the-family feel" to it.
With all the negative publicity that came of the leaked reports several weeks ago, I would guess the NFLPA tweaks their plan to make others happy. It seems that nobody wants to see them follow through on the plan which was reportedly to conduct their own draft event down the street from Radio City Music Hall.
We'll see if they change the plans. I think they should and, if it were up to me, they would be business as usual at the draft. The CBA arguments can take place before and after that event -- but not during the event.
While the Green Bay Packers' books are already open, the Chicago Bears are willing to join their NFC North archrivals in sharing their financial records with the National Football League Players Association, according to team president Ted Phillips, in the interest of ending the ongoing NFL lockout. The NFLPA has been requesting that information from all 32 teams for years.
The Denver Broncos have previously claimed willingness to open their records as a part of a new franchise emphasis on transparency. The article on Phillips mentions the Dallas Cowboys also being on board, but Jerry Jones has been one of the biggest opponents of sharing records with players.
Sure, it's kind of a PR move, especially if Dallas is actually on board. The Cowboys could actually use their recently built stadium to make their financial burden appear much worse than it really is. Fans can hope for a domino effect, with each team leading the next to share financial records, but this thing isn't likely to end any time soon either way.
Whenever the NFL and the NFL Players Association begin negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league will likely insist on Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing, according to a report by Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com. Adolpho Birch, an NFL vice president and general counsel, is quoted as saying that the previous caution with such testing has passed and that it is necessary to implement for the "integrity of the game." Users of HGH are supposedly able to return from injury quicker, but could also experience deleterious side effects later on.
According to the report, this issue was discussed in negotiations before the lockout was imposed, but to what extent is unknown. The NFLPA has been against HGH testing because the only way to currently discover the substance is after drawing blood with a needle. A urine test, which is not yet available, would be the preferred form of administration.
If HGH testing is part of the next CBA, the NFL will be the only one of the four major sports leagues to test its players. An HGH testing system is currently in place for Minor League Baseball, however.
For more on the NFL Lockout, stay tuned to this StoryStream.
The organization formerly known as the NFLPA has filed documents to essentially block the NFL lockout and the case, which will be heard on April 6, has gone to Judge Susan Nelson. The NFL meanwhile is requesting that the lockout be kept in place.
The NFL argues there are no legal grounds by which the lockout can be blocked. They argue that the claim filed with the National Labor Relations Board on February 14 arguing the (then-)union wasn't negotiating in good faith should be decided first. They also continue to avoid recognizing the NFLPA's decertification.
NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash says all litigation will do is delay the process. However, if successful, the NFLPA's litigation attempts could block the lockout meaning we will get our offseason back. The process of finalizing a new CBA may take longer but, as a fan, I simply want free agency, workouts, training camp and the rest of our offseason.
The long story short is that football continues to be played in the courts. April 6 is the next big date with the hearing to potentially block the lockout. The two sides could potentially negotiate before then but it doesn't sound like that will actually happen.
What we know right now is that the NFL has locked out the players and the players have responded by filing an injunction to block the lockout. That hearing will happen on April 6 but there have been some questions whether the two sides will return to the negotiating table before then.
NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith said on Pro Football Talk Live on Monday that they sent a letter to the league indicating that they can contact class counsel -- essentially the players' lawyers now that the union has decertified -- if they wish to negotiate.
But Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports the league won't negotiate with class counsel.
I'm not sure what to make of this latest development. The league has said multiple times that they're willing to negotiate anytime as long as the NFLPA tells them "when and where". Given an opportunity to do so, they decline.
It's hard to figure out the league's angle on this one. Perhaps they feel confident Judge Susan Nelson, in a hearing on April 6, will rule in their favor.
As fans, we just want the two sides to put away the finger-pointing and get back to talking. It's frustrating that both sides say they want this to happen but neither side will apparently make an effort to make it happen.
On Saturday, a handful of players send a letter on behalf of all NFL players to commissioner Roger Goodell. The letter is in response to a letter sent by Goodell informing the NFL Players Association of the lockout.
The letter, which spans four pages, lays out its criticisms and arguments through a series of bullet points. The tone is certainly somewhat personal and blunt, with statements such as, "Your statements are false," and a refusal to "sell out" fellow players.
This text was transcribed from a series of scanned-in pages taken from the NFL players' website.
March 19, 2011
National Football League
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
This responds to the letter you sent to all NFL players on March 17.
We start by reminding you that we were there at the negotiations and know the truth about what happened, which ultimately led the players to renounced the NFLPA's status as the collective bargaining representative of NFL players. The players took this step only as a last resort, and only after two years of trying to reach a reasonable collective bargaining agreement and three weeks of mediation with George Cohen of the FMCS. At all times during the mediation session we had representatives at the table with the authority to make a deal. The NFL representatives at the mediation did not, and the owners were mostly absent.
The mediation was the end of a two-year process started on May 18, 2009, when our Executive Director sent you a letter requesting audited financial statements to justify your opting out of the CBA (letter attached).
The NFPLA did all it could to reach a fair collective bargaining agreement and made numerous proposals to address the concerns raised by the owners. In response, the owners never justified their demands for a massive give-back which would have resulted in the worst economic deal for players in major league pro sports.
That is why we were very troubled to see your letter, and repeated press reports by yourself, Jeff Pash, and the owners which claim that the owners met the players halfway in the negotiations, and that the owners offered a fail deal to the players.
Your statements are false.
We will let the facts speak for themselves.
- The proposal by the NFL was not an "a la carte" proposal. The changes in offseason workouts and other benefits to players were conditioned upon the players accepting an economic framework that was unjustified and unfair.
- Your proposal called for a apegged amount for the salary cap plus benefits starting at 141M in 2011 and increasing to 161M in 2014, regardless of NFL revenues. These amounts by themselves would have set the players back years, and were based on unrealistically low revenue projections. Your proposal also would have given the owners 100% of all revenues above the low projections, including the first year of new TV contracts in 2014. Your offer did NOT meet the players halfway when it would have given 100% of the additional revenues to the owners.
- As a result, the players' share of NFL revenues would have suffered a massive decrease. This is clear by comparing your proposal to what the players would receive under the 50% share of all revenues they have had for the past twenty years.
- If NFL revenues grow at 8% over the next four years (consistent with Moody's projections), which is the same growth rate it has been for the past decade, then the cap plus benefits with our historical share would be 159M in 2011 (18M more per team than your 141M proposal) and grow to 201M per team in 2014 (40M more per team than your 161M proposal).
- Your proposal would have resulted in a league-wide giveback by the players of 576M in 2011 increasing to 1.2 BILLION in 2014, for a total of more than 3.6 BILLION for just the first four years. Even if revenue increased at a slower rate of only 5%, the players would still have lost over 2 BILLION over the next four years. These amounts would be even higher if your stadium deductions apply to the first four years (your proposal did not note any such limits on these deductions).
- We believe these massive givebacks were not justified at all by the owners, especially given recent projections by Moody's that NFL media revenues are expected to double to about 8 BILLION per year during the next TV deal.
- Given that you have repeatedly admitted that your clubs are not losing money, the billions of dollars in givebacks you proposed would not have gone directly into the owners' pockets. We understand why the owners would want to keep 100% of this additional money, but trying to sell it as a fair deal to the players is not truthful.
- You proposed a CBA term of ten years. But you did not include any proposal on the players' share of revenues after the first four years, which left open entirely how much more the owners would have taken from the players.
- The owners continued to refuse to give any financial justification for these massive givebacks. Our auditors and bankers told us the extremely limited information you offered just a few days before the mediation ended would be meaningless.
- Your rookie compensation proposal went far beyond addressing any problem of rookie "busts," and amounted to severely restricting veteran salaries for all or most of their careers, since most players play less than 4 years. What your letter doesn't say is that you proposed to limit compensation long after rookies become veterans -- into players' fourth and fifth years. As our player leadership told you and the owners time and time again during the negotiations, the current players would not sell out their future teammates who will be veterans in a few short years.
- Your proposal did not offer to return the 320M taken from players by the elimination of certain benefits in 2010. It also did not offer to compensate over 200 players who were adversely affected in 2010 by a change in the free agency rules. Your letter did not even address a finding by a federal judge that you orchestrated new television contracts to benefit the NFL during the lockout that you imposed.
- You continued to ask for an 18 game season, offering to delay it for only one more year (you earlier said it could not be implemented in 2011 no matter what due to logistical issues). This was so even though the players and our medical experts warned you many times that increasing the season would increase the risk of player injury and shorten careers.
- All of the other elements you offered in the mediation, which you claim the players should have been eager to accept, were conditioned on the players agreeing to a rollback of their traditional share of 50/50 of all revenues to what it was in the 1980's, which would have given up the successes the players fought for and won by asserting their rights in court, including the financial benefits of free agency the players won in the Freeman McNeil and Reggie White litigations more than 20 years ago.
- The cap system for the past twenty years has always been one in which the players were guaranteed to share in revenue growth as partners. Your proposal would have shifted to a system in which players are told how much they will get, instead of knowing their share will grow with revenues, and end the partnership.
You had ample time over the last two years to make a proposal that would be fair to both sides, but you failed to do so. During the last week of the mediation, we waited the entire week for the NFL to make a new economic proposal. That proposal did not come until 12:30 on Friday, and, when we examined it, we found it was worse than the proposal the NFL had made the prior week when we agreed to extend the mediation. At that point it became clear to everyone that the NFL had no intention to make a good faith effort to resolve these issues in collective bargaining and the owners were determined to carry out the lockout strategy they decided on in 2007.
We thus had no choice except to conclude that it was in the best interests of all NFL players to renounce collective bargaining so the players could pursue their antitrust rights to stop the lockout. We no longer have the authority to collectively bargain on behalf of the NFL players, and are supporting the players who are asserting their antitrust rights in the Brady litigations. We have heard thta you have offered to have discussions with representatives of the players. As you know, the players are represented by class counsel in the Brady litigation, with the NFLPA and its Executive Committee servging as an advisor to any such settlement discussions. If you have any desire to discuss a settlement of the issues in that case, you should contact Class Counsel.
Cc: All NFL Players
For more on the NFL Lockout, stay tuned to this StoryStream.
Earlier this week a report surfaced that the players union was thinking of telling incoming rookies not to attend the 2011 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall, Instead, they were thinking of doing their own event down the street as some sort of protest against the league.
The NFLPA was slammed for this idea and they haven't really come out to explain what the truth is so NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went on ESPN and NFL Network Tuesday night to capitalize on the folks that are upset with the NFLPA.
Goodell's main talking points were basically emphasizing that the NFLPA walked away from the negotiating table, that the NFL draft is special for the rookies and he hopes no one takes that away from them, that the show will go on whether they're there or not and that he "couldn't get off this show fast enough" to get back to mediation.
NFL Network's Rich Eisen thought he had an "exclusive" interview with Goodell until he found out shortly later that ESPN had him on as well.
The NFLPA is reportedly telling players not to attend the 2011 NFL draft in New York as is the custom. With the current labor climate, we should have known the draft wasn't safe from being a pawn in the labor dispute between the owners and players.
The fan reaction obviously wasn't a good one as folks who are tired of labor talk simply wanted to see their team pick a player in the draft without the words C, B and A getting involved. Here's NFLPA spokesman George Atallah on the issue early Tuesday morning:
The NFL Draft is special. Players and their families will be in NYC. It just maybe different. We will provide details when we can. I have been careful about what I can say on the record given our post-lockout world. There is a lot of frustration out there from everyone. The anger is palatable, but stick with us, we will be return to our positive message. We will get back to focusing on the good.
The NFLPA -- or a "union source" rather -- has since clarified the report from ESPN's Adam Schefter to indicate they're not forcing anyone to do anything. Instead they characterized it as a "recommendation".
Peter King of SI.com has added some more details to the story indicating that the NFLPA is considering hosting a separate event in New York that would be just for the players.
Under a plan now under consideration -- and those are the key words, now under consideration, because the idea isn't set in stone yet -- the decertified NFL Players Association would ask top picks to skip the annual NFL draft party and pre-draft events to attend a separate event organized by players. I am told the prospective rookies won't be ordered to do this. But the suggestion would be a strong one to rookies-to-be and their agents.
There would also be current players there so when the Broncos select player X with the second pick, someone like Champ Bailey or Tim Tebow would be at the players-only event to congratulate them.
The NFLPA is obviously trying to flex their muscle here because the NFL draft is a money maker for the league with the incredible popularity it's achieved.
Whether this idea is actually implemented, and whether it actually works, remains to be seen. I know most fans would prefer that a deal is in place by then so that business can go on as usual.
There were rumors over the last few months that if the labor dispute between the NFL owners and players reached full boil that the players could consider boycotting the 2011 NFL draft. Though their presence isn't necessary -- it's not a game -- some of the top players have traditionally been present for the draft to walk across the stage in New York when their name is called.
Well, the labor dispute has hit full boil and the latest, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is that they're following through on their plan to boycott the draft. Schefter reports that the organization formerly known as the NFLPA has contacted up to 17 prospects that would ordinarily receive an invite to the draft and told them not to go.
"As of right now, this is 100 percent happening," said one source familiar with the Players Association's thinking. "This is going down."
As if that weren't enough of a kick to the league, the players are also considering appearing on a competing network -- not ESPN or NFL Network, which carries the draft -- and doing post-pick interviews there. A source also told Schefter that it's possible the league tries to pay the players to attend, which they've never done before.
Boycotting the NFL draft wouldn't necessarily mean anything but it would suggest that the divide between the two sides isn't getting any smaller.
Following the decision by the organization formerly known as the NFLPA to decertify, the NFL implemented a lockout. The players response so that was to request an injunction to block the lockout. The hearing for that case, according to reports, will come on April 6.
The judge, as of now, will be Susan Nelson. Some thought it would land in Judge David Doty's court because he presided over the last CBA but that apparently isn't the case. Doty was a lightning rod in the CBA negotiations because his rulings have over the year tended to be pro-player.
Just because this hearing is coming doesn't mean the two sides can't stil negotiate. They can, if they want, continue to work out a new CBA. It's unclear if they plan to do so.
April 6th comes before the NFL draft so I'm sure most would prefer to hear a determination on this shortly after that so things like free agency can begin if the lockout is indeed blocked and the 2010 rules are put into place.
We're in day three of the NFL lockout and, with the players requesting an injunction to block a lockout, the question is becoming when a final decision may come down. It could be a ruling this week saying the lockout is blocked or it could be a month.
But if it is blocked, there will need to be a set of rules by which the two sides can operate. According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, it's expected that the 2010 rules would likely apply in that scenario. That means no salary cap -- or floor -- for the NFL's 32 teams.
Players with expired contracts would need six years of NFL service time to be eligible for unrestricted free agency, rather than the four seasons required when the salary cap system was in effect; players with expired contracts and three to five seasons of NFL experience would be restricted free agents. Each team would have an extra transition-player tag, in addition to the one franchise-player or transition-player designation allowed per club under the salary cap system, to restrict players' movement in free agency, and there would be limits on the free agent activity of last season's final eight playoff teams.
The players didn't like those rules because it severely limited how much they could move in things like free agency. The biggest part of this, I think, is that those fourth and fifth year players that, under the pre-2010 rules would have been unrestricted free agents, would be restricted free agents.
Blocking the lockout would mean football could be played so that's the scenario we'll be rooting for.
Following the NFL and the players' insane decision to stop football and enter a work stoppage, the league detailed one of its final proposals to the players and one of the concessions they apparently made came on the 18-game season. As many of you know, the owners were pushing for it while the players, and many fans, weren't interested in the idea.
The league essentially said in its proposal that they would stay at 16 games for the next two seasons and wouldn't go to 18 games beyond that unless the players approved. Peter King of SI.com notes the absurdity of the 18-game schedule:
The players hated the 18-game season with a passion, and for good reason. Injuries are an epidemic; in game 17 this year, New Orleans got to the fourth quarter of the wild-card showdown at Seattle with its eighth running back of the season ready to go. The first five were on IR. The next two got hurt earlier in that game. I could pick 10 other examples to make the case for not playing more real games, but it's just common sense. Goodell got it. Just like that, it's gone.
The league felt they made a major concession by tabling the 18-game season talk and the union didn't respond with more concessions pushing the two sides closer to a deal. I'm not sure the union should be considering the league's decision to drop the 18-game season as a debate. No one -- except the league -- wanted 18 games. Why give concessions on something that was a little wacky to begin with?
While the most important and best-reported consequence of the current NFL lockout is that players will not be paid, there are repercussions for coaches and other team personnel as well. New York Daily News writer Manish Mehta, who covers the Jets for the newspaper, confirms that furloughs and pay cuts have begun.
#Jets confirm furloughs & coaches' 25 percent paycuts are in effect now that lockout has commenced. #nfl #nyj
#NYJ on furlough/paycuts:"Our plans are in effect.This is a fluid situation. We will obviously be evaluating our approach as events unfold."
Mehta also tweeted part of a statement from Jets owner Woody Johnson that includes the phrase "a deal will get done."
That may still be true. But it's likely that there is still some time between now and then, long enough that means furloughs and cuts mean hardships for many of the workers dependent on the NFL for income beyond the players who score on Sunday.
As of 12 a.m. on Saturday morning, the NFL is officially in a lockout state. Earlier in the day, the NFL Players' Association voted to decertify, allowing the players to individually file antitrust lawsuits against the league. The owners were expected to officially vote on a work stoppage ahead of the midnight deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement and reportedly did just that, choosing to lock the players out.
The report comes from the NFL Network, which is owned and operated by the league. The move is expected, but still disappointing for fans hoping to avoid a work stoppage. With a lockout in place, normal operations are suspended, with team activities in a holding pattern and free agent at a standstill.
The lockout could last days, weeks or, perhaps, into the season, depending on how far the legal battle between the two sides goes. The NFLPA had been asking for full financial disclosure from the league, but was unable to obtain sufficient transparency, forcing the union's to decertify in an effort to protect their own interests.
The 2011 NFL Draft will still go on, but teams will only be able to trade picks, with personnel moves prohibited. Other than the draft, teams will be unable to make roster moves, or have any contact with the players themselves.
For the latest on the negotiations, check out the rest of our NFL lockout StoryStream.
The NFL owners have released their proposal to the NFL Players Association that was ultimately rejected when the NFLPA elected to decertify earlier Friday. The proposal includes several concessions the NFLPA was aiming for initially, including a split of the economic difference between the two sides, a rookie wage scale and a commitment that an 18-game schedule won't occur until after the 2012 season at the earliest.
The NFLPA was hoping the owners would reveal financial information from the last 10 years, which it alleges included the owners taking money that should have gone to the players off the table. The NFL owners balked and instead submitted a 10-point proposal that led with the following.
We more than split the economic difference between us, increasing our proposed cap for 2011 significantly and accepting the Union's proposed cap number for 2014 ($161 million per club).
The other nine points are as follows:
On Friday afternoon, the NFL Players Association has officially decertified, effectively dissolving itself as a union and making a lockout all but certain. The NFLPA has released a statement:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NFL Players Association announced today it has informed the NFL, NFL clubs and other necessary parties that it has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League.
The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.
As Friday's 5 p.m. Eastern deadline loomed, decertification appeared more and more likely. This move will send the dispute between the league and the players to the court system. When the collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. Friday night, the NFL is expected to lock out the players.
For the latest on the pending NFL lockout, stay tuned to this StoryStream.
"We informed the owners that significant differences remained, that if there was going to be a request for an extension that we asked for 10 years of audited financial records to accompany any extension. We told them please let us know by 5 pm today. We're gonna head back to the office. I'm sure we'll have further comment later on."
Nothing is official yet but we're getting closer. The NFLPA has until 5:00 p.m. Friday evening to file for decertification and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reportedly told players on a Friday afternoon conference call that the plan was to decertify.
According to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, that's what will happen.
BREAKING NEWS: nfl players are set leave negotiating and go to court to decertify, source in room says
This is the news we expected considering all the public bickering going on in the last 24 hours. It was clear the two sides would be unable to work out a deal on their own and now they'll need the courts to help them settle it.
The union will decertify, essentially dissolving itself as a union, while the owners are expected to implement a lockout at midnight when the CBA expires. At that point, the union would file an injunction to block the lockout and from there it would be in the hands of the courts to decide what's next.
The court specifically that would handle the case is Judge David Doty, who has made several pro-player decisions over the years while ruling over the CBA. The union would file for decertification before the expiration of the current deal so that the looming legal battle would stay with Doty.
Absent an extension to the current CBA, which expires at midnight on Friday night, the most likely next step in the NFL lockout negotiations is decertification by the union. In a conference call on Friday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told the players that the plan (right now) is to decertify, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
We were waiting on a 2:00 p.m. update from Smith, who tweeted on Thursday that he'd have an update by then.
The one ray of hope is Schefter's point that things can change. Deadlines have a funny way of affecting people, as we saw last week with the last minute decision to extend the CBA. The likely scenario, though, appears that we're taking football to the courts.
This is what most folks are thinking now: the union will decertify and the owners will lock the players out at midnight. From there, we enter into more legalese where the union will hope to block a lockout. At this point, though, no one is quite sure exactly what each side will do.
Let's hope deadlines do have a way of affecting people and we avoid taking football to the court system.
We still don't know where we stand on the NFL labor negotiations between the league and the union. The deadline to extend the current CBA comes Friday night while the deadline for the union to decertify comes at 5:00 p.m. early Friday evening.
According to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, the NFL will present one more proposal to the NFLPA on Friday. That proposal will turn this thing one of three ways: 1.) a new CBA, which is very unlikely or 2.) an extension of the current CBA, which seems more likely than a completely new deal but still somewhat unlikely or 3.) decertification by the union.
At this point, the third option seems to be the most likely. The first option, getting a new CBA signed, is incredibly unlikely, if not impossible.
It was just on Thursday night that the two sides were publicly bickering with each other so that would suggest to me that things aren't going very well at the negotiating table.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Thursday that he expects to update the players by 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Until then....we wait.
The NFL lockout enters deadline day...again. For the third time, we're hours away from the expiration date of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The two previous deadlines were extended -- first by 24 hours and then by one week -- and we're hoping the current one gets extended.
That's about the only hope we have remaining. The two sides can't even respectfully communicate in public so I can't imagine the negotiations inside the FMCS building at 21st and K in Washington D.C. are going much better.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith tweeted on Thursday that NFL players can expect an update at 2:00 p.m. (presumably ET).
As of Friday morning around 10:00 a.m. (ET), both sides were starting to arrive.
The entire NFL labor committee -- minus Bob Kraft, who is in Israel -- is headed to the meetings in D.C. on Friday. They'll be joined by NFL negotiations as they prepare for what is, as of now, the final set of negotiations before the expiration of the current deal. The NFLPA had the largest contingent since negotiations started, according to reports on the ground -- at least two dozen people.
There are plenty of issues to work out but the biggest continues to be how to distribute over $9 billion in revenue. It doesn't sound like that will happen on Friday so let's hope for another extension or brace for the future of football to be decided by lawyers.
Don't hold your breath on a new CBA anytime soon as the negotiations between the NFL owners and NFL Players Association is going in the wrong direction. The deadline for a new deal comes Friday evening and it appears there are three options at this point: 1.) Get a new deal done or 2.) extend the current deal 3.) Decertification/Lockout.
The third option seems the most likely to be happening, especially after listening to NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash on Thursday afternoon.
"If both sides have an equal commitment to getting this deal done, it will get done," Pash said. "I don't know if both sides have an equal commitment. You've heard plenty of what I've heard as well. If that's the case, if both sides have that commitment, there's a deal to be made."
That should tell you where these two sides are in negotiations. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was less than pleased with those comments in an email to the AP:
"Jeff Pash was part of an executive team that sold the networks a $4 billion ticket to a game they knew wouldn't be played. The only thing they've been committed to is a lockout."
An NFLPA spokesman, George Atallah, joined in on the fun via Twitter:
"If owners continue to [question] players' commitment to negotiations, we're prepared [to] make public all our unanswered proposals."
And the NFL's spokesman, Greg Aiello:
"While George is at it, ask him when is union going to respond to our 150 pages of draft CBA provisions that they received eight days ago. Waiting."
The best thing we can hope for is an extension. Still, even that seems unlikely. That said, we were in this same position last week before the two sides struck a deal on an extension. Deadlines have a way of changing the way people think so we'll hold out some hope we're not taking football to the courts.
If the National Football League Players Association decertifies before the end of the business day on Friday and the team owners prepare to lock out the players, a series of legal actions could ensue, paving the way for free agency to start before a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Sports Illustrated's Peter King reports that if decertification and a lockout tak