Players to miss out on March bonuses if deal is delayed
NEW YORK -- NFL officials on Thursday outlined for the media the finances behind some of their proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement, expressing why they believed there should be significant urgency on both sides to complete a deal.
The officials, led by general counsel Jeff Pash, the NFL's chief negotiator in talks with the NFL Players Association, also shared slides from presentations they have made to all 32 owners, as well as to the NFLPA itself, during the months of talks aimed at generating a new CBA.
The current CBA is set to expire March 4, with the sides far apart on an agreement. Pash said there are no "intensive, round-the-clock negotiations" scheduled with the players at this point but stressed again that Commissioner Roger Goodell has no greater issue on his agenda.
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NFLPA officials have countered that the league has been reluctant to join them for protracted negotiations, just one of many issues the sides have been unable to agree upon.
Contacted Thursday after the NFL's breifing, NFLPA sposkesman George Atallah said, "There is no evidence to suggest that the economic model is broken. There is no evidence to support their claims of a broken business model. Most importantly, there is no evidence that justifies a lockout."
In Thursday's briefing, though, Pash attempted to clarify some of the many murky issues spawned by the potential for a work stoppage.
Pash said he expects teams to continue to apply franchise tags in mid-February, even with the current deal set to expire. Pash also said that if progress is made, it is conceivable the sides could agree to push back the March 4 deadline in order to continue negotiations, as was the case in 2006.
Pash was joined at the briefing by Eric Grubman, executive vice president of business operations; Peter Ruocco, senior vice president of labor relations, and Joe Siclare, senior vice president and treasurer, during which the executives tried to clarify the economic hardships that could befall both sides should they fail to reach a deal in early March.
Some, including the NFLPA, have suggested that the league could benefit and perhaps even save some money via a lockout, and others have suggested that since Week 1 of the 2011 season is still so far away, the league is not under pressure to make a deal quickly. The league officials stated, however, that even a short work stoppage could have considerable direct financial impact on the NFL in the short and long term.
"Uncertainty about a labor agreement will have a clear and cumulative effect on our revenue," said Pash, who remains "optimistic" a new deal can be struck despite all of the hurdles in place.
Ruocco, a top official with the NFL Management Council (the body that oversees contractual and salary cap matters), explained the ramifications of a work stoppage on the potential 2011 free-agent class.
According to Ruocco, if the threshold for unrestricted free agency were to return to four accrued seasons (it took six seasons to become unrestricted in 2010, an uncapped year), this would be the biggest free-agent class ever with 495 players eligible. Of that group, 34 percent are deemed starters, having started eight games or more, which also would make it the highest-quality class ever in that regard.
That group would stand to profit heavily in March, as historically half of all free agents get some form of a bonus in March around when they sign, and the average bonus is $2 million, according to Ruocco. The timing of these payments is significant to players' pay cycles, since base salaries are paid over 17 game checks from September to January.
Given those numbers, the economic impact of roughly 500 free agents not receiving those bonuses this March due to a lockout would be high.
NFL.com news: NFL: Players to miss out on March bonuses if deal is delayed
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