February 28th a giant date for the NFL.
By Bill Smith
In one of his first public statements, the newly elected Executive Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) DeMorris Smith gave hope to millions of NFL fans. Smith said that he wanted to get started on negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as soon as possible. While no one should hold his breath, there is a chance that the NFLPA and the owners can come up with a system that is going to acceptable to everyone involved.
February 28th is a key date in both 2010 and 2011. If the two sides can come to agreement and the players ratify it before 2/28/10, the uncapped year could be avoided. There is enough money for everybody. The cap for 2009 was originally estimated to be around 105 million, due to the TV contracts and other increases in revenue, the new cap is now over 116 million per team. That also raises the minimum salary to nearly 99.5 million which is the amount every NFL team must spend on salaries and player bonuses.
There are a number of poison pills placed in the last year of the contract by agreement of the two sides in the last negotiations in an attempt to facilitate a new deal. As things stand now, in 2010 there is no salary cap and no minimum. A team could conceivably cut all their NFL players and hire a semi-pro team at 100K each. That would save over 94 million dollars. There is also a change in free agency. Players with 6 seasons of service by the end of the 09 season under the old agreement would have been unrestricted free agents. Since the owners opted out of the agreement, those players can not get free agency until they reach 8 seasons of service. That will cost many players millions of dollars in free agent contracts.
The owners get some poison as well. The playoff teams can only replace players lost in free agency despite the uncapped year. And even a single uncapped year could drastically change the balance of power in the league for years to come. If a small market team takes advantage of the elimination of the minimum salary, it could poison the fan base and make a move necessary.
The second February 28th that is critical is in 2011. Unless the parties get a deal before that date, there will be a lockout for sure. Let’s hope things don’t get to that point.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]