It’s been stated in the past that the league was hoping to have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place in time for the Super Bowl. Given that the Super Bowl is being played in a few days, that sounds exceedingly unlikely. The NFLPA will be holding a key meeting today that may well determine what the timeline is for getting something done in time at least for the start of the new league year.
Roger Goodell was asked about the state of the negotiations yesterday, and while he wouldn’t give a timeline, he did describe the process as “having incredibly productive dialogue” over the course of the past eight months.
“I think we have addressed difficult issues that face our league going forward and looking forward”, he said. “I think the players, management, everyone in the negotiation have to work to try to find creative solutions to make the NFL better, and that is what you want. The process will close when the process closes, when all of us feel comfortable that we reach an agreement that we want to go forward with. I do not know when that will be, but I think it is more important to get it right”.
The consensus appears to be that the push for a 17-game schedule is the main sticking point right now, and that if it were not for that, a deal would already be done. A number of prominent players have actively pushed back against the proposal, understanding that they would at least expect major concessions to agree to that.
While nothing appears to be absolutely imminent, Goodell remained confident that something would be done, citing the obvious benefits of accomplishing that. “It starts with the fact that if you reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the benefits that will be negotiated in that context will immediately go to, not only the current players, but as just raised, the former players”, he said.
“There are changes to the system that I think can be beneficial. There are changes to the system that potentially could be beneficial to our clubs, we could begin on that process immediately, and the impact could be felt by our players and clubs immediately”.
Operating under the final season of a CBA introduces new rules and restrictions for teams, including the effects on tags and contract restructures, which would limit how much teams would be able to massage their salary cap and things like that, an obvious concern for a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Will we see a new deal in place in time for teams to make the appropriate arrangements in advance of free agency? I certainly hope so, but I also hope at the same time that the right deal is struck that keeps in mind the future of the game.