Negotiations toward the completion of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement may not have been as acrimonious as the last round was back in 2010 and 2011 on the face of it, but there is plenty of animosity, I think, behind the scenes, and once again, it stems from the league’s strong stand on what they want most.
For a long time, the NFL has wanted to extend the calendar. They have talked about 18 games in the regular season in the past, and are opening that door now by standing tall on their demand to reserve the right to expand the regular season to 17 games, starting as early as 2021.
Reportedly, the league is so intent on this that they may consider tabling discussions until next year if the NFLPA is not willing to agree to the offer that is already on the table. It’s currently unknown whether or not they are even willing to sweeten the deal as long as they still get their extra game.
Their stance has left the NFLPA in a difficult and frustrating position. Last week, union representatives for all 32 teams gathered prior to the Super Bowl to discuss the situation. They went into the meeting resolutely against a 17-game season, but their view was softened by on-hand player agents dealing them a dose of reality as to what refusing the league’s offer could mean.
The NFLPA representatives are set to meet again today in the hopes of coming toward a resolution, but it’s as yet undecided whether or not they will actually hold a vote that will determine if the CBA offer will be passed on for a vote to the total union body.
Chances are, a vote will only be taken if the sense is they can get the number of votes needed for it to pass, which is a two-thirds vote. The NFLPA would not even confirm that this meeting is actually taking place when the Washington Post requested comment.
While the deal on the table is reported to have a number of items favorable to the players, including essentially eliminating marijuana suspensions, vastly reducing player fines, upping their revenue share, and increasing post-retirement benefits, being asked to play another game is a barrier a lot of players are not willing to cross. As of now.
The goalposts keep getting moved back. Originally, the league wanted a new deal done in time for the start of the regular season. Then they wanted it done in time for the Super Bowl. If it’s not done in time for the start of the new league year, they could threaten suspending negotiations.
The players have a lot more to lose by a potential lockout, so tabling discussions would force the players to think long and hard about whether or not they want to go down to the wire again like they did a decade ago, which resulted in their being locked out throughout the majority of the offseason.