It had been suggested weeks ago that the NFL was considering taking its ball and going home until next year if the NFLPA did not play nice and approve of its own Collective Bargaining Agreement proposal. The league made good on that threat yesterday in announcing that the owners had approved of the current terms on the table.
With the NFL pushing hard to get a 17-game season, this CBA has been a hard sell for the players, who are set to debate the proposal today, and possibly vote on it. If they don’t vote, they won’t have much time to do it later. And if they vote not to approve it, we will enter a game of chicken.
“Since the clubs and players need to have a system in place and know the rules that they will operate under by next week, the membership also approved [in addition to the proposal itself] moving forward under the final year of the 2011 CBA if the players decide not to approve the negotiated terms”.
NFL statement on approval of terms for a new CBA pic.twitter.com/XJ67agXpFb
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 20, 2020
This is a nice way of saying that the NFL is going to end negotiations and table talks until next year. The players have until next week to decide whether or not the current terms are acceptable or not, and if they’re not, they will have a tough and contentious battle to fight next year.
Previously, amid the initial report, it had been speculated as to whether or not the league would even be willing to budge from the positions it had then held. Since that time, they have made additional concessions in the players’ favor, but whether or not that will prove to be enough remains to be seen.
No matter what happens, the clock has officially started. It has already been reported that several teams are waiting to make important decisions this offseason based on whether or not the CBA will be ratified, because it greatly changes their options.
The Pittsburgh Steelers would be among the teams most directly affected by whether or not there is a CBA approved that prevents the rules of the final year of a CBA taking full effect. If there is not an agreement, they are more likely to have to release more players in order to carve out the sort of cap space they need this offseason to accomplish their objectives, including retaining Bud Dupree, potentially via the franchise tag.
Speaking of the franchise tag, one of the proposals the players reportedly fought for was to eliminate it, but it doesn’t appear that hit the final draft. While they may have gotten some colorful concessions along the way, the league is asking quite a lot of them this time around.
And now they are putting a deadline on it for 2020. The negotiations are over. The clock is ticking. Accept the terms or wait until next year, when the league may have even more leverage, as they can threaten to lock the players out. The NFL still has the incentive to get something done now in time for new broadcast deal negotiations, but I don’t think they would make this call if they didn’t feel confident about it.