As predicted yesterday, the NFL’s owners agreed to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by seven days today. The players’ union had already agreed to such a measure yesterday and the world was just waiting for the owners to come to the table. They have, and now we may actually have some movement towards a new collective bargaining agreement and the avoidance of a work stoppage.
The two sides will resume negotiations on Monday under the supervision of federal mediator George Cohen who, despite initial skepticism, has been a very positive addition to this process. Today’s decision extends the current CBA until next Friday.
As part of this agreement, teams can talk to players but can’t sign or renegotiate current contracts. This was also part of the agreement for the 24-hour extension agreed to yesterday. The owners saw such a provision coming, which is why we saw such a flurry of activity yesterday.
From what we’re hearing the players and owners have each made concessions with an eye towards an agreement, but the two sides remain far apart on several key issues. The overall financial gap (how the league’s $9 billion would be divided up) between the two sides is said to be about $750 million per year, which is significant. Also, the issue of an 18-game regular season has yet to be agreed upon, but most feel the players will simply have to accept that as inevitable.
Whatever the details are, today’s extension is certainly a positive development. The process is not close to a resolution, but at least the two sides are still talking.
The major issues being discussed other than the dividing up of the $9 billion and the 18-game regular season are just as important. The owners want to implement a rookie wage scale, which also appears to be inevitable. The players also want a better retirement benefit and pension package for former players, which also appears inevitable. The two sides merely have to haggle over the details for both of those issues.
As noted before, the owners and players remain far apart on the two central issues of this debate. But the fact that they are willing to sit down together and try to at least talk it out is a good thing.