NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement Issues

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					As many NFL fans know, the owners and the Players Union are responsible
for reaching an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before
the 2010 season. The reason most fans should pay attention to this is
because within the current CBA there is a provision that the final season
of the agreement (2010) must be an uncapped salary season. There is no
doubt that a deal will eventually be struck, but will we lose the salary
cap forever? Possibly.The reason the NFL and other leagues can use a
salary cap in the first place is due to the Non-Statutory Labor Exemption
created as a part of the Clayton Act in 1914, which allows owners and
Players Union to negotiate and come to agreements, like a salary cap,
that would normally be an antitrust violation. The salary cap and free
agency were created in the NFL when antitrust law was applied on the the
basis of restrictions on player movements in a suit filed by a group led
by Reggie White. In the current CBA, the NFL would be under antitrust
liability if an agreement can't be reached six months after it expires,
or if negotiations are argued to impasse, whichever comes later. So there
is incentive on both sides to get a deal done quickly, or risk losing
their exemption.The owners are justified in their demand for a new CBA.
Here is a list under the current CBA that the owners must follow, and the
big issues surrounding these negotiations:-Guaranteed SpendingEvery year
there is an increase in team salary that every team must pay. In 2006,
each team's salary had to be at least 84% of the current salary cap. That
number rises 1.2% every year, so teams are forced to spend money on
players to stay above the minimum.-The salary cap rises every yearThe
salary cap rises based on projected league revenues, so naturally, it
rises every year. With the increase in the minimum and a higher salary
cap, teams are forced to spend a lot more money than they may want.-Teams
must pay 50% towards contracts50% of total league revenues must be paid
towards player contracts. Why is this even in there? In the end clubs are
forced to spend almost 60% of their revenues towards player contracts.-
Rookie salariesThis is a large sticking point, and where common sense has
seemingly been thrown out the door. The first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft
was Left Tackle Jake Long. He signed a five-year, $57.5 million deal with
the Dolphins. Good for him, right? That contract made him the highest
paid Left Tackle in the NFL, and he hadn't even played a down yet. This
isn't the only instance of a rookie making more money than Pro Bowl
players. Rookies taken in the top 10 of the draft are making Pro Bowl
type money right out of the gate. I wonder how that makes 5 and 10 year
veterans feel? I think this is one of the issues that both sides will
agree on and a slotting system will be put into place, or a rookie pay
scale, similar to what the NBA is using.Effect of No Salary CapIf no
agreement is reached and 2010 is an uncapped season, it's not going to be
the spending free for all that many people think. Provisions under the
current CBA state that in the event of an uncapped season, the number of
seasons required to become an unrestricted free agent goes to six.
Another provision states that each club will be able to use a Transition
Tag on any of their unrestricted free agents, which works a lot like the
franchise tag. These two provisions will severely cut down the number of
free agents available in 2010. So don't look for the Redskins to sign 27
Pro Bowlers.The biggest issue will be getting the salary cap back, as the
Players Union insists that if it's gone in 2010, they aren't agreeing to
bring it back. While I don't think the NFL without a salary cap would be
as unbalanced as MLB, there would definitely be some changes. For
instance, in 2007 the Redskins grossed over $130 million more than the
Minnesota Vikings, so there would be built in advantages for some teams
with unlimited spending power.

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