The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, or CBA, will expire after the 2020 season. Although the 10-year agreement has two seasons remaining, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently completed an interview with Julia Boorstin of CNBC to discuss the State of the CBA.
Goodell told Boorstin that the league does not want to wait until next year, and is going full bore with negotiations on getting a new deal done – before the beginning of the upcoming 2019 regular season, the league’s 100th year.
“Our intent is to make sure we have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, we’ve been in it for eight years. It’s worked very well, mainly for our fans but also for our players and our clubs, and so we have the structure of a system that works quite well. We’re continuing that dialogue, there are obviously changes we all want on both sides, and I think those are things that’ll improve us and try to make the Collective Bargaining [Agreement] continue to be successful for all the parties, and I hope we’ll do that.”
The CBA is a crucial document for both the league and its players. It is essentially a labor agreement that is negotiated between the NFL owners and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). It specifies everything from player salaries and revenue, to benefits and pensions, medical situations, plus safety issues.
There have been a total of nine different CBAs in league history, with the first installed in 1968. The 1974, 1982 and 1987 negotiating sessions resulted in player strikes.
The 2011 CBA was sent to mediation after a failure to reach a resolution during the drawn-out negotiation process. The NFL had demanded a reduction in player salaries plus certain benefits, and at one point talked about a lockout. With the CBA set to expire in early March and then extended for one week, when another agreement failed to become a reality, the CBA expired and the NFLPA announced it was no longer a valid entity. The NFL imposed a lockout, which only affected veteran players under contract and not rookies or free agents.
On July 25, 2011, the eve of when training camps were supposed to begin, a new agreement was signed. The owners raised the hard salary cap, which added more funds into player contracts. Also agreed upon was the elimination of “two-a-days” practices, limits on contact during these practice sessions, increased pensions for former players, an increase in funds to injured players, growth in player salaries and an upsurge of each franchise’s revenues filtered down into player salaries plus a few other sorted details.
Also, a new arranged rookie salary scale was instituted, which would structure what each player could be signed for based on his position selection in the annual NFL draft. The design was so that rookie players would no longer make more money initially than each club’s veteran players. And instead of a five-year deal, this new CBA was agreed upon for 10 years. After the signing, the NFLPA reorganized.
It would appear that if the NFL is wanting to settle this two full seasons before it expires, this may allow the NFLPA a leg up in negotiations. Perhaps the owners do not want to go through another lengthy litigation period and are more acceptable to what the NFLPA is wanting this time around. It appears unlikely that such a serious document would somehow become valid before September 5 of this year; although both sides have been involved in three sessions to date with more scheduled this month. With the current CBA almost nine years old, both sides are certain to have a laundry list of demands and alterations.
“It’s possible for a tentative deal to be reached by September, with the formal team-by-team votes done as quickly as the circumstances warrant. Still, plenty of work needs to be done. Even if it seems that the league is happy to retain the overall structure of the deal, both sides are going to want potentially significant changes, whether it’s stadium credits (from the league’s perspective) or an adjustment to gross revenue split (from the union’s perspective).”
The aspiration of a deal being solidified by the start of the 2020 season is a more realistic goal. In the past, both sides have attempted to use hostage tactics in order to achieve success on their respective sides. The players always want more money and benefits, whereas the NFL owners always want minimum revenue-sharing and less opportunities for writing more paychecks.
What would seem to be a certainty this time around is the subject of marijuana allowed for player’s recreational use. Now that the nation is essentially on-board with this as a minor drug, the NFL continues to treat it as a serious cancer amongst its ranks. The NFLPA is assuredly going to assert that the league loosen its restrictions.
What will happen with the new CBA? As history has shown, probably another strike or lockout. Or perhaps more replacement players?