2018 Offseason Questions: Will Right To Protest Be A Key CBA Issue?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Will the right to protest be a key issue during the next Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement is pretty much always a tense affair. Neither party ever seems to come out of the negotiations satisfied with their position, no matter how much it might appear on the outside that they have gained.

The last CBA negotiation stalled in 2010 and resulted in the NFL playing with an expiring agreement that season, part of which included the suspension of the salary cap, though teams were still effectively required to operate responsibly, and a couple ended up getting fined for stepping out of bounds.

Even the following year, when the new CBA was finally sorted out, it was a laborious affair that resulted in a lockout of the players. Much of the offseason was truncated because of that, with an agreement not being reached until the end of July.

That was already seven years ago, and we are quickly gearing up for the next round of negotiations, as the CBA was put into effect for 10 years. Both sides hold a lot of grievances over what they were unable to gain during the last negotiations, and the words of war had already begun a long time ago—or more accurately, never stopped.

Now throw on top of that the topic de jure of the players’ belief in their right to protest. The NFL revealed earlier this week a new rule that subjects teams to a fine if any player personnel on the field does not stand and show respect during the national anthem, though it also gives players the option to not be on the field.

How important is this issue going to be to players when it comes to the next round of negotiations? While they feel very strongly about Roger Goodell’s power, this was from the owners. And players are angry that the NFLPA was not a part of the discussion. There is anger now. Will it be better in 2020? Or even worse? It might depend upon what the social climate is at the time.

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