Fans of the National Football League can breathe a sigh of relief, because NFL Players Association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement on Monday. That ends a four-month owner imposed lockout that had grown tiresome to many football fans. The new agreement is good for 10 years, so it should be at least that long until we see another work stoppage.
Since the lockout began players and agents could have no contact with their team. That means there have been no trades and free agents and rookies have been unable to negotiate with teams. With training camps set to open on Wednesday it will be interesting to see how big of a mad scramble signing unsigned players will become.
The number of unsigned players is over 700 with over 500 free agents and over 200 draft picks. Teams and agents will need to enter negotiations with good faith offers, because they have missed the four-month haggling period.
So, who won this battle between billionaires and millionaires? Call it a tie. Each got a little something they wanted, and most important, each will get a lot of money. The owners now will keep 52 percent of the revenues, not the 47 percent from the previous collective bargaining agreement that so rankled them, but they also will have to operate with a $120 million salary cap, with an additional approximately $20 million for benefits, and have a guaranteed spend. That guaranteed spend was important to the players, and they got it.
In the end, the owners and players are splitting more than $9 billion. No one is losing.
The losers are the first round draft picks. Last year top pick Sam Bradford signed with St. Louis for $78 million with a $50 million guarantee. Under the terms of the new deal Cam Newton, this year’s top pick, will make about half of that with the Carolina Panthers.
During the press conference announcing the agreement, Indianapolis player rep Jeff Saturday commended New England owner, Robert Kraft, for being the catalyst to get the deal done. That is noteworthy because the well-respected Kraft had to bury his wife last Friday. That is possibly one reason there were reports last Tuesday suggesting the lockout was over. With Kraft being as important to the process as he apparently was, his wife’s health concerns had to slow the process.