The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The NFL and the NFLPA will at least have the framework in place for a new CBA by the start of the 2019 season.
Explanation: While contradicting reports have since gone out, it was said that the NFL—and by said, I mean Roger Goodell basically said it himself—wanted to get a new CBA in place before the start of the 2019 season so that it doesn’t conflict with the celebration of the league’s 100th season. While that’s an ambitious goal, they can still have the framework for a deal in place that would set up a satisfactory resolution in time for the start of the 2020 league year, which is the real ‘deadline’.
The fact that the NFL and NFLPA have already had four distinct meetings to discuss issues, which have seemingly gone amiably enough, is a positive sign toward this being a possibility. Even an NFLPA source described it as ‘baby steps’ toward a deal, which is much better than where we were at this stage of the last CBA negotiation period.
In contrast to previous negotiations, I think much will be ironed out rather easily, because there are things that are ready-made to be conceded, such as a loosening of the drug policy, more practice time and access to players, and things of that nature. Getting a lot of the small details out of the way can set the table for the bigger issues.
But it really comes down to how much the NFL is willing to budge on bigger issues, which may not be much. One of the elephants in the room is going to be revenue sharing, with the players currently getting 47 percent. They want more, but the league doesn’t want to give any more.
The fact that it was reported after the last meeting—which could have gone multiple days but was cut after one—that the league actually wasn’t pushing that hard for a deal to be done in time for the start of the 2019 season indicates to me that the first foray into the ‘big issues’ didn’t go so well. The next time the two sides meet will be at the end of the month, at which point perhaps we’ll know more.