Welcome to the era of contradiction. It was just recently that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared to confirm that it was indeed the league’s intention to work toward the completion of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time for the start of the 2019 season.
Following the fourth formal meeting between the NFL and NFLPA yesterday, however, Mike Garafalo reported for the NFL Network that he was told not only that a deal is unlikely to be done by then (not a shock), but that the league actually isn’t that concerned about pushing for that.
There has been some talk that they want this done by Week One—the league that is. We are told that that is extremely unlikely at this point, not something that the NFL is really pushing hard [to achieve]. Everyone would like to get this done earlier rather than later, but everyone wants to do the right deal, not just the quick deal.
From @NFLTotalAccess: The NFL and NFLPA will continue to have talks on a new CBA but @TomPelissero and I have spoken to sources who agree it won’t be done by the start of this season. pic.twitter.com/ZaK0yAVmfQ
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 17, 2019
Garafalo did note, however, that yesterday’s meeting was significant, and included a wide variety of some of the most important figures in the negotiations, including Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, as well as Robert Kraft. The players were represented by members of their executive committee, including Richard Sherman, Russell Okung, and president Eric Winston.
The presence of these lofty figures coincided with the beginning of discussions of some of the biggest issues that will have to be weighed before an agreement could be reached between the two sides. One of the most contentious issues will be revenue sharing.
The players settled for a 47 percent share of the revenue during the last Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, which pretty much everybody considered a significant loss for the NFLPA. They obviously want to gain some ground on that number with the next CBA, and they see a potential desire from the NFL to get it early as the opportunity to strike for some concessions.
So is it really no surprise that the league’s own network is reporting, following the first meeting with the NFLPA in which revenue sharing and other major issues were discussed, that they are suddenly not pressing for an overly early agreement? After Goodell had just said otherwise? Quite possibly not.
The league has recently resorted to suspending its program for employing full-time officials, which it began just a couple of years ago, as they negotiate with the NFLRA. It’s a transparent negotiation tactic that illustrates what they are willing to do to give themselves the best footing in any arrangement possible.
The two sides are expected to meet next on July 29. This current meeting was scheduled to possibly take up to three days, but was suspended after only one. While that is not ideal, it was also well within the scope of known outcomes and should not be construed as a setback.
Still, it remains exceedingly unlikely that a deal will be struck so early. The current CBA is set to expire after the 2020 season, but implications for no new deal will begin with the start of the new league year that year, so the realistic target for a new deal should be early March.