While the focus every week is on football—as it should be, of course, since football is being played—there supposedly continues to be progress on the Collective Bargaining Front, as the NFL and the NFLPA remain in ongoing negotiations throughout the progression of the regular season, and without the spotlight that is provided by the dead periods of the offseason.
CBA negotiations are typically fraught with drama, but that is largely driven by the reporting on the subject matter, and without the attention being paid to it, we are not really hearing about what’s going on. Neither side can afford to weaponize the media for their cause, either, as a byproduct of the timing of the negotiations, since the priority is now on the football that the negotiations are trying to preserve.
The current CBA, signed in 2011, is set to expire following the 2020 season, but the ramifications of not having a new deal done will be felt as early as the start of the new league year, which will include but will not be limited to another uncapped season, the way 2010 was.
And so both sides continue to push forward with the process, with the hope remaining that they can come to a resolution before then. According to Mike Florio, “one source with knowledge of the dynamics suggests that January remains a realistic target”.
So we could have a new CBA hammered out in time for the Super Bowl ceremony. It would be nice to go into the offseason without having to worry about league drama behind the scenes, certainly, which would be felt much more strongly by the players and coaches than the fans such as myself, but the reality is, this is something that nobody wants to deal with.
While the NFLPA continues to speak to its constituents about being prepared to hold out if necessary—or rather, be locked out, as they were in 2011 before the two sides were able to come to an agreement that heavily favored the owners—the tone of the negotiations so far this year has been far less acrimonious than in years past.
It’s worth recalling that the Pittsburgh Steelers players were the only team to choose not to ratify the current CBA back in 2011, the 31 others all approving. Obviously that was more than enough to get it passed.
There are few remaining on the roster who would remember that time. Just Ben Roethlisberger, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, and Cameron Heyward. Joe Haden and Tyson Alualu were also in the league, but on other teams. That was Heyward’s rookie season, and they missed OTAs and minicamp and I believe portions of training camp as well as the negotiations lingered and the owners locked the players out. Both sides very much want to avoid a repeat of that, as do the players who were around for that time.