The NFL is trying to prepare for the celebration of the league’s 100th anniversary, and part of that preparation is trying to mitigate the risks of a variety of factors tarnishing the narrative during that centennial celebration. One of those risks is the very real potential for labor strife, with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up for expiration in a relatively short period of time.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently confirmed that it is indeed the league’s intention, and hope, to get a new CBA deal done and ratified in time for the start of the 2019 season, which would be early. It’s not set to expire until after the 2020 season, but if a new deal is not reached by March, then the following offseason would function as an ‘uncapped’ year the way 2010 was. There would be other complications as well.
While there has been some tension and shots taken between the sides here and there, the truth is that the rhetoric that we saw about a decade ago over this issue is significantly toned down. It has even been walked back relative to the past couple of years in the run-up to another potential contentious round of negotiations.
This is, perhaps, because the players understand the opportunity that the league is presenting itself. The NFLPA knows that the NFL would have no choice but to be more conciliatory if they want the Players Association to play ball and get a new CBA wrapped up early for the sake of their centennial celebration. But then it becomes a delicate matter of finding out how far you can push without it snapping back into your face.
Both sides have already been at work, with multiple meetings between representatives having already taken place this month, with another scheduled for tomorrow. According to Peter King, sources from both sides of the negotiating table have reported positive indications of forward progress, even if we are still a long way off from accomplishing the end goal by September.
King wrote that a team source “felt the chance of making a deal on a new CBA was 50-50 this year if the union would stick with the current economic formula of the game; currently players get about 47 percent of the game’s gross revenue”. He also said that the percentage has not come up yet—it probably will.
He also spoke with a union representative who was less optimistic because of the very topic broached, but he did offer that the meetings having taken place so far represented “baby steps”, which is better than nothing. It really comes down to how far the league is willing to bend, because the union remembers how much it felt it got the short end of the stick last times.
As for the recent resurgence of discussion over the 18-game season, King wrote that even a club official told him he “can’t see it” happening. Frankly, this seems like little more than a bargaining chip that they know they won’t get, but they’re going to play it to its maximum capacity this time.