While the deadline of the start of the NFL regular season continues to look overly ambitious for a new CBA between the NFLPA and NFL, negotiations have gone much more smoothly so far than the last time the two sides had to agree to a new CBA.
“I think these discussions have been much more amicable than the discussions in 2010, 2011, 2009 about the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” 49ers CB and NFLPA executive board member Richard Sherman said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “The owners, even when we have intense disagreements on topics … Even when there’s an intense disagreement or guys not reaching the same conclusion on certain things, there’s more discussion. There’s not anyone throwing a fit and getting up and leaving. There’s ‘I see your point of view. We have our perspective. We can agree to disagree at the time and maybe revisit it later.’ I think that shows growth. That gives both sides a reason to feel optimism. Neither side is walking away. Both sides understand there’s a sense of urgency with the way the economy and just the way TV in general, the landscape of TV is changing.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio believes Sherman’s response to King’s question about a potential 18-game season leaves the door open to that possibility.
Sherman told King an 18-game season “has very little chance of happening unless something astronomical is conceded,” which Florio says is a departure from the NFLPA’s previous stance of “no way, no how.”
According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, the NFL and NFLPA have also discussed expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams while eliminating a week of the preseason.
A specific format has not yet been proposed and the preseason could end up being shortened regardless. Both sides have also made progress on issues like player benefits for current and former players, as well as player health and safety.
Rapoport and Pelissero report the major sticking point continues to be the overall revenue split, as the owners so far have been unwilling to move from the 47 percent the players currently receive, while the players see no reason to agree to a deal quickly without changing the split.
There also has not been a formal proposal about expanding the regular season to 17 or 18 games, per NFL Media.
The current CBA is set to expire following the 2020 season. The NFL and NFLPA have had monthly negotiation meetings since April and the tenor around negotiations is much different than the last CBA talks in 2011 when the owners locked out the players.
This time, the NFL’s owners are motivated to get a deal done to not distract from the “NFL 100” marketing campaign and TV deal negotiations.
The owners also have a March 2020 deadline to agree to a new CBA before specific contract and salary cap rules kick in, including the lack of June 1 release designations and the ability of teams to use both the franchise and transition tags to keep players off the free-agent market.
Some issues expected to come up are an 18-game regular season or expanded 14-team playoffs, a reduced preseason, changes to the NFL’s marijuana policy and potentially limiting commissioner Roger Goodell‘s authority in player discipline.
We’ll have more regarding CBA negotiations as the news is available.