Although I’m not holding out much hope of being proven right (that the CBA and new season might begin as early as this week), signs are continuing to progress towards a new CBA. I’m sure many of you saw several outlets reporting details of the proposed CBA. I’ll give my take on a couple of them.
First, it sounds like they’re scrapping the “billion off the top” system, by which owners took $1 billion off the top of all revenue before any was split. They were working on negotiating a 2nd billion added on to that for additional expenses. From the reports, it sounds like they’re looking to simplify things. In this situation players would get 48% of all revenue, presumably with owners getting 52%. I like this move. If Demaurice Smith’s estimations that the players got about 52% total revenue under the last system are correct, it looks reasonable that they give up a little bit. The only issues here is that this will continue the practices of states paying for stadiums. Some of the arguments by owners for taking an additional billion was for the development of new stadium and stadium complexes. Without that massive influx of money to the owners coffers, they’ll continue practicing the Minnesota Vikings model instead of the Jerry Jones Cowboys Model, which will in turn continue to force states to fund large portions of athletic while struggling to maintain other areas that could desperately use the funding like schools and development for cities. Still, with states controlling a lot of these fields, it should mean that there won’t be a lot of movement by teams if they don’t like something those states are doing. If they own the field they could simply dump the investment and leave without a lot of consequences.
Second, it sounds as if the NFL Network is in a battle to keep hold of its Thursday night games. The reason being that the NFL doesn’t gain a lot of revenue by simply selling those games to their private station. Those games are the reason that so many homes have NFL Network, and the reason so many Comcast users complained when they didn’t have it. Still, if they can negotiate those games to a network they reportedly could gain between $500 million to $1 billion dollars, which is another big boost to the total pie. There’s also talk of a 16 game package instead of just the 8 late season games. Reportedly the 8 games package was valued at $500 million, so they could double the revenue by doubling the games and then have that money to add to the total sum. There is some debate about whether the NFL Network will lose all the games. They could divide up the 16 into two 8 game segments and then sell half while keeping 8 games for their flag-ship network. Personally, I like the sound of the new lineup for the Thursday crew and would rather games feature that crew. Now if they end up selling at 16, I’ll hope that the new network will bring along the new crew to do the commentary and the NFL Network could still get some press with them there.
Third, the rookie wage scale is still being discussed. Somehow this is still a sticking point and frankly I’m not sure why. Both the NFLPA and the owners seem to be on the same page here, and while discussing where the new line should be, they can’t be that far off unless the owners are demanding that money goes back to the owners, or potentially the owners want that money to come from the NFLPA’s portion instead of the Owners portion. Either way, I don’t see this as being a sticking point for the negotiations.
Next a couple smaller things. They’re bringing the unrestricted free agency period back to four years (it went to six in the un-capped year if you’ll recall). This is good for both parties. Players can seek a nice free agent deal after a couple good years and it gives them time to acclimate to the scheme they’re in. The owners won’t be tied down long-term to players who aren’t cutting it. Supposedly the owners were seeking 5 or 6 years on rookie contracts in the 1st and 2nd round in order to avoid free agency sooner, but that gives more money that would have to be paid out to players who weren’t cutting it after 3.
They also are working towards forcing teams to spend more towards the cap total. It’s projected to be bumped from its earlier 90% of the cap to something higher, but no terms are finalized. This should be good for both parties as well, teams will field better teams by being forced to spend a little more while more players will find more money in free agency than before.
Of the things I haven’t heard reports on, I’d still like to see them increase the roster size – both game day, team roster, and practice squads. In particular the practice squads because without a minor league system in place there needs to be room to develop free agent rookies and such.
I doubt they’ll work on it, but they should also consider planning for what to do with the UFL. The NFL currently ignores it, generally, and it should consider if they can use it as a minor league system or possibly integrate it (I wrote a post about that earlier if you’re interested… probably not).