Monday, July 4, 2011

Critical Week in NFL Negotiations: Time to Deal

In previous years, the coming of July meant the first NFL training camps are set to open by the end of the month.  However, this year, as the NFL lockout continues, no one knows when training camps, or even real games, will begin.

As negotiations between the owners and players stretch into the umpteenth week, fans are beginning to get a bit anxious that part of the season might be lost.

However, progress has been made in the past week at the negotiating table.  Both sides seem more intent than ever of coming to an agreement.

Part of that might be because the owners and players don't want to miss out on very lucrative pre-season games.  One estimate I've seen is that the NFL stands to lose $200 million/week of the pre-season.  That's a total of $800 million if the entire pre-season is shelved.  

That money is shared by the owners and players by a percentage that is currently the top issue in these talks.  Other issues include the creation of a legacy fund (fund for retired players; discrepancy right now between who funds it and with how much), and establishing a rookie wage scale.  

To complicate matters, a group of retired players have filed a class-action lawsuit demanding to be more involved in the current talks.  They feel that their interests are not being properly represented.  

In any case, it's unknown whether the lockout could be reversed if the major revenue sharing issue is resolved alone, or if requires agreement on all the major parts to the negotiations.  

Another possible fight in the near future is the rookie wage scale.  If the NFL and Player's Union decide that there will be a Rookie wage scale, it will need to be formulated and implemented quickly and the agents will need to sign off on this.  Otherwise, you have the possibility of the agents or the players themselves protesting this new development by holding out or filing more lawsuits.

Let's face it, a deal has to get done ASAP.  Before we even play a game, we have to get all the rookies signed, figure out what to do about free agency, new coaches have to meet their teams and actually give them new playbooks, and teams have very few weeks to implement the systems that usually take months to learn.

It's going to be a cluster, no matter how you look at it.  Expect for more injuries this year. Expect for the most veteran of teams to dominate early because they need less time to get rolling (Colts, Patriots, Chargers, Steelers, to name a few).  Fans will be grateful, though, just to have a season to watch.   

Let's just please get started.

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