As Mike Freeman reported yesterday, the end of the lockout/close of a new CBA is close. Like the "half-yard line" close, thanks to everyone moving past the obstacle that was the rookie-wage scale.
But it still appears, based on various reports from around the web, that there's another issue hanging around in the negotiations: right of first refusal on the big old crop of free agents that will theoretically emerge under the new collective bargaining agreement.
We've covered this particular issue before, and it's an interesting request from the owners. Essentially they want to get a shot at signing the guys who went from restricted to unrestricted status because of the change in the CBA terms.
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We've also been repeatedly told that it ain't happening. (And heard that the owners aren't actually pushing too much on this issue.) It now appears that it's off the table entirely; owners have reportedly decided they won't pursue first-right-of-refusal clauses.
There's good reason for that. By most accounts, the players sacrificed a big chunk of change, in terms of revenue sharing to push this deal along.
The owners have also made sacrifices, and one of those is allowing a group of 500-plus players to "graduate" into free agency earlier than they would have under the the expired CBA rules.
Plus, the owners are the one who put themselves in the position of having this group of players out on the market by opting out of the CBA a few years back. Thus, any leeway from the players on this issue would indeed be a surprise.
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