It is at this point that I would like to remind you that you can never fully trust anything that you read, and that includes anything that is news that I or anybody else pass along, because it can be subject to change, or even just flat-out wrong. We do our best to qualify these things while passing them along.
We got yet another example of this phenomenon with ESPN revising an article while making no note that it had been revised that removes pretty important language, which I have previously written about, and which for once almost makes Mike Florio look not entirely foolish.
An article written earlier this week by Dan Graziano, which echoed an earlier ESPN article I quoted and linked to myself, stated that the NFL had in mind a soft deadline of having a new deal for a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place in time for the start of the new league year, and if the NFLPA could not get its constituents to agree by then to a 17-game season, they would strongly consider tabling discussions until next year, such is their hardline stance.
After Florio wrote about that, Adam Schefter, George Attalah, and Ramon Foster (probably among others) all refuted that, and it was probably around this time that Graziano’s article was amended to contain substantially softer language, which reads as below:
While no hard deadline has been established, both sides would prefer to have a deal in place soon so that changes in the CBA structure could go into effect at the start of the new league year on March 18. The sides could still negotiate after that date if they feel they’re making progress, but sources say the sense is that negotiations could stall out if no deal is in place in time for the new league year.
As you can see, there is no longer any mention of the league even considering actually tabling discussions, taking its ball and going home until next year, and that dramatically changes our understanding of the tenor of current negotiations.
For what it’s worth, the NFLPA’s player representatives met for eight hours yesterday—this includes Foster—and it appears as though they did not feel they would reach the necessary two-thirds votes it would take to approve the deal on the table, which would then be passed on for a vote by the entire body of NFLPA members (nearly 2000 players). Thus, they did not hold a vote.
That means there is still work to be done, and it increasingly sounds as though this will extend beyond the start of the new league year, which will have ramifications for how teams can move money around. That will negatively affect the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fondness for turning high base salaries into signing bonuses.
The NFLPA, including Foster, insisted that they would not be goaded into making a hasty decision. It sounds as though they are just beginning to come to terms with a 17-game schedule as a realistic possibility, and they have to decide whether to allow for it (with major concessions from the NFL) or to fight against it tooth and nail, potentially risking a length and acrimonious negotiating period that could ultimately lead to a work stoppage in 2021.