View Full Version : NFL CBA negotiations update...

04-19-2005, 03:52 PM
TV deals could spark discussions
By Len Pasquarelli

ATLANTA -- Securing two more pieces of the television puzzle could accelerate negotiations to extend the collective bargaining agreement with the players, some NFL owners said Tuesday.

But executive vice president of labor relations Harold Henderson warned again that he is concerned by the sluggish pace of discussions with representatives from the NFL Players Association.

As league owners huddled here for about four hours on Tuesday, a scheduled session to update them on the CBA negotiations and other business-related matters, the College of Cardinals elected a new pope. No one expected a puff of white smoke to float above the airport hotel where owners convened. In fact, the alarming thing for owners and league officials is that there has been too much smoke and not enough fire as the NFL attempts to continue the labor peace that has helped fuel revenues.

The NFL on Monday finalized two more broadcast components, with ESPN taking over the Monday Night Football package and NBC a striking deal for the Sunday prime-time games.

"I don't want to create the impression that I'm pessimistic, because we are making progress, but not the kind of progress I had hoped for," Henderson, the NFL's point man in discussions with NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw, told ESPN.com. "We're plodding at a snail's pace. And I'm becoming concerned that some windows are closing on us. We've had opportunities to get this done, natural time periods where it made sense, and those have passed now. And as you get closer to an uncapped year, you worry that there could be a stiffening in some stances."

Without an extension to the current labor accord, no salary cap would be imposed on owners in 2007. The salary cap and one other critical issue discussed on Tuesday, revenue sharing among owners, have been elements in the stability of the NFL and, to some extent, its unbridled popularity.

Both sides have warned about the ramifications of reaching an uncapped year, and Upshaw has allowed that, if the situation reaches that point, the league probably will never operate under a salary cap again. Once out of the bottle, owners conceded Tuesday, the salary cap genie would likely be impossible to harness again.

The two sides met Friday but Henderson said there currently are no further sessions scheduled with NFLPA representatives.

Completing the television deals -- the only element still being discussed is the potential package of late-season Thursday and Saturday games -- provides the league a better view of its fixed revenues for the foreseeable future. The hope is that the players, with a clearer focus of the revenues involved, will be more inclined to make a deal.

Dallas owner Jerry Jones noted, however, that the rights fees for the television deals that were announced Monday were pretty much anticipated in discussions with the union, and that consummating the agreements might make little difference in the tenor of the talks. Another influential owner, Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, said he felt that the television deals might resolve some of the inertia.

With the latest agreements, the league will average nearly $4 billion annually on all its national television rights fees.

"Let's face it, much of that (television) money is going to go right into the pockets of the players, so you would hope finishing off the deals would make a difference," Kraft said.

Added San Francisco owner John York: "The positive thing is that neither side has its feet stuck in cement. I'm optimistic we'll get it done, although I don't know when."

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said after the meeting, as owners hustled to catch flights, that it is not likely there will be an agreement on a CBA extension by the time owners meet again, on May 24-25 in Washington, D.C.

Almost as dicey as the negotiations with the rank-and-file, however, are the discussions about the growing disparity in revenues between the highest-earning franchises and those at the bottom of the money rankings. Before they move any closer to an extension of the labor agreement, it seems many owners believe the revenue gap must be narrowed, and that was part of the Tuesday meeting.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed optimism the matter will be resolved, said some progress was made on Tuesday and suggested that there might be several options presented when the league next meets. Blank noted part of his rationale in purchasing the Atlanta franchise was the stability provided by the league's revenue-sharing agreements.

"It's like (New York Giants owner) Wellington Mara said, that before we can agree with the players we have to agree with each other," Blank said. "But I think we will."

Countering Blank's optimism that owners are moving closer to a middle ground in altering the revenue-sharing model was Jones. Asked if there was progress to report, the Dallas owner said: "No, none. None whatsoever."

Mr. Laz
04-19-2005, 04:03 PM
i hope they get it figured out

but i think considering the salary cap a pandora's box is a little bit of drama rather than reality.

all the sports leagues are going towards a salary cap

the NFL has one of the more reasonable players assocations ... it will have a salary cap.

04-19-2005, 04:07 PM
What Pastabelly fails to mention here are three key points....

1) If there is no cap in 2007, teams will be allowed to use both the transition tag AND the franchise tag that year.

2) Currently, three year vets at the end of their contracts (like Fujita and Boe) are restricted free agents, while four year vets at the end of their contracts (like Blaylock and Beisel) are UFA's. If there is no cap in 2007, restricted free agency is extended to include 4 and 5 year vets, so there would be no unrestricted free agency for players who have less than 6 years in the league.

3) Finally, teams who make the playoffs in 2006 will be allowed to sign only a limited number of UFA's going into the 2007 season. In fact, I think the 2006 Super Bowl champ would only be allowed to sign one UFA for each one that they lose.

So there is some incentive for the players to get this thing done. I don't think any of them want to wait an extra couple years for UFA status.