The NFL has approved the current version of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that is on the table. The NFLPA player representatives approved the proposal to be passed on to the entire union body to vote, which is a process that is expected to take a couple of weeks.
In other words, the league’s 32 teams currently do not know under which rules they will be operating at the start of the new league year on March 18. They should know before then, but it may come within a limited window before the new league year begins.
If the players opt not to accept the terms of the proposal, then things will continue as they currently are, which is under the guidelines of not just the previous CBA, but the terms of the final year of a CBA, which has some nuances to it that don’t exist in other years.
While the opportunity to use both the franchise and transition tags is likely, at most, to affect up to two or three teams, the limitations that the 30 percent rule present could be hard-felt by teams who are close up against the salary cap already, like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
General manager Kevin Colbert was asked to address this during his NFL Scouting Combine press conference on Tuesday, but truth be told, he did not really provide much of an answer. “This will unfold between now, tomorrow, next week, into April, and we start into the draft meetings”, he said of whether or not they will be able to be as active in the offseason as they were a year ago. “We don’t know. We have to be flexible. We have to be prepared. We have to be flexible, and we have to be better”.
Quite frankly, I can answer for him, and the answer is no. the only reason the Steelers were abundantly active a year ago is because they had over $14 million in cap space that they were not planning on having thanks to Le’Veon Bell choosing not to show up. Were it not for that, they wouldn’t have had the option to make the moves that they did.
“We never know what the salary cap is at this point in any year, so we just make some assumptions”, Colbert went on to say when asked if the uncertainty made it difficult to make moves such as restructures and extensions. “We always play it on the worst-case scenario, so again, we don’t get surprised and maybe not do something we were hoping to do”.
At least the final comment gives me some hope that the Steelers will—and of course—should be prepared for whatever outcome. They ought to have a plan in place ready to go to make important roster moves based on if the CBA is approved as well as if it is not approved, and be ready to act quickly on the necessary moves that result from that decision.