Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:47 pm

Report: First day of negotiations was 'fruitful'

Smith and GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With the owners and players set to negotiate again today in Boston, it sounds like their swing to a new CBA in the near future continues on a good track.

According to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, talks on Wednesday were “very fruitful,” and they will continue until a deal is reached.

"We are headed in the right direction," the source told Paolantonio. "There is a desire on both sides to reach an agreement sooner rather than later."

That’s not to say any of this is surprising. As CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman recently told us, it would take a real knucklehead to mess up these negotiations.

On Wednesday, commissioner Roger Goodell apparently shared with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith some of the feedback he heard from the owners in their meeting earlier this week in Chicago.

This afternoon, the NFLPA will update the players on the latest news.

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:11 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:57 pm

Freeman: NFLPA to hold call with players today

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Earlier this week, the owners met in Chicago so they could hear an update on the labor negotiations and so they could discuss where they were going in the near future.

Now, it looks like the players will get their turn.

CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman is reporting that the NFLPA will hold a conference today at noon to discuss with the players the latest on the negotiations.

As Freeman writes, “This is an important step, not so different from the owners being updated this week. If players react positively to agreement constructed so far, then it will be easier to further negotiate with owners.”

On Wednesday, Freeman talked to five players who said they liked what they heard so far about the new CBA.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 22, 2011 11:11 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 3:19 pm

Peyton, Eli doing 'Football Cops' for DirecTV

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE: We've got a Season 1 trailer, courtesy of FootballCops.com! Peyton Manning is "Mike Tahoe," Eli's "C.J. Hunter" and there's an Archie cameo as well. And while I'm still not sure if it's an "actual television show," I am laughing pretty hard right now.

Peyton Manning, as our own Mike Freeman noted, has been pretty quiet this offseason, despite starring in the NFL players' antitrust lawsuit against the league.

Perhaps that's simply because he's been hanging out with his brother Eli, filming a series of cop dramas for DirecTV in advance of the upcoming NFL season.

No, seriously. Via Monsters & Critics, here's some sort of behind-the-scenes sort of video that DirecTV's dropped in recent days (including the photo above and the one below).

Now, there are a couple of things to point out about these little chunks of media.

1. Does this mean that DirecTV -- provider of the SUNDAY TICKET package and would-be defender of the fan via a lockout policy -- is planning for a 2011 season? Because if Peyton and Eli are shooting commercials for the upcoming year, it doesn't guarantee football, but it certainly seems like a positive step. Or …

2. Does this mean DirecTV is planning on NO SEASON, and simply banking on a groundbreaking dramatic series from the Manning brothers to fill up the time in which they'd normally be running actual NFL football. And …

3. How amazing are these mustaches, you guys???

The answers to those kind of questions seem to be 1) yes, 2) unlikely, and 3) absolutely amazing.

No amount of commercial shoots are going to lock in the NFL season, of course. But, remember, we're in baby-step mode, and every bit of positive momentum counts, even if it's just a Manning Bros cop drama.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:18 am

Goodell: 'It was a good day' but 'lot to be done'

GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Now that the owner’s meeting in Chicago is adjourned after a five-hour talk between all 32 today, commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to the assembled media masses and sounded somewhat optimistic.

“It was a good day in the sense that we had a full discussion on the issues and I think our ownership continues to be determined to reach an agreement and play that full season,” Goodell told reporters. “They are united. They believe that in the best interest of the game we need to correct various aspects of collective bargaining. Everyone’s determined to try to get that done and still have the full 2011 season.”

The owners aren’t staying overnight in Chicago -- Goodell said not to read anything into that -- but they discussed a long laundry list of ideas and proposals for the new CBA. Some of those owners and Goodell are also planning to meet with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith Wednesday and Thursday in the Boston suburbs, according to various reports.

While the owners weren’t expected to vote on a new deal today, it’s not out of the question they could do so soon after the meetings in the Northeast.

“There’s a lot to be done,” Goodell said. “Obviously you’d want to have the agreement fully negotiated and reflected in the documents. Secondly, you’d have to go to the various bodies, the players and there is some litigation involved with this ... that would have to get resolved also. Those steps would have to take place and would be done on an expedited basis as possible.

NFL Labor
“I think the ownership has a better understanding of the framework and I think we have a better understanding of the various issues and priorities within the membership. Obviously, we are negotiating with the players and the Players Association and that’s what we’ll resume doing."

But what about the fans? Are you worried that they’re getting anxious about whether they’ll see football in 2011.

“I speak to fans all the time and the anxiety level is very high,” Goodell said. “I think the best thing I can tell them at this stage is we’re working as hard as we possibly can and we’ll go the extra mile to try to reach that agreement. We know how important football is to fans, and we want to deliver on that.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 21, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 3:52 pm

Goodell talks to owners about proposed CBA

Posted by Ryan Wilson

One of the reasons for Tuesday's NFL owners meeting in Chicago was to brief teams on the status of the labor discussions. ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that commissioner Roger Goodell has presented to the owners at least nine proposals that could be a part of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The details, per Mortensen:
  • Players get 48 percent of "all revenue" without extra $1-billion-plus off top that previously had been requested by owners. 
  • Players' share will never dip below 46.5 percent, under new formula being negotiated. 
  • Teams required to spend close to 100 percent of the salary cap. 
  • Rookie wage scale part of deal but still being "tweaked." 
  • Four years needed for unrestricted free-agent status. Certain tags will be retained, but still being discussed. 
  • 18-game regular season designated only as negotiable item and at no point is mandated in deal. (Editor's note: thank god)
  • New 16-game Thursday night TV package beginning in 2012. 
  • Owners still will get some expense credits that will allow funding for new stadiums. 
  • Retirees to benefit from improved health care, pension benefits as revenue projected to double to $18 million by 2016. 
Other nuggets culled from sources: ESPN's Sal Paolantonio hears that there won't be a vote Tuesday on a new CBA, and Adam Schefter tweets that "If and when agreement is reached, all players with 4, 5 and 6 years of service are expected to be unrestricted free agents."

As for when we'll actually have a 2011 season? Mortensen knows as much as the rest of us. Best guess is mid-July, which is what we've been hearing for a few weeks now. But, hey, it's something.

It gets better: Sports Illustrated's Don Banks tweets that it's "Still relatively early, but we're hearing there is so far no significant dissent being voiced today regarding direction of CBA talks."

Given that we're more than three months into the lockout, we'll happily call this progress.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 10:24 am

Tuesday meeting to update owners on negotiations

Posted by Ryan Wilson

As planned, the NFL owners are meeting Tuesday in Chicago. Hopefully that means actual football won't be far behind. The league and the players have spent much of June working through the details of a new collective bargaining agreement, although there hasn't been a resolution.  

As for what's on the agenda in the Windy City, NFL Network's Albert Breer has the details.

"Tuesday's meeting was originally scheduled as a one-day session, but clubs were advised last week to be prepared for the proceedings to spill into Wednesday," Breer writes. "No formal votes are scheduled for the meetings, with the labor committee and [Roger] Goodell having completed three sets of clandestine negotiations with the players."

"We're giving the clubs a briefing on the status of the labor discussions," NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told NFL Network. "And we'll allow them to ask any questions, give them a legal update on the status of the various court actions, and just make sure they fully understand everything that's happened over the last month and make sure they're fully informed as we proceed through the end of this month and into July."

Mid-July had been identified as the likely timeframe for both sides to reach an agreement on a new CBA, but there have been setbacks. Last week, an ESPN report suggested some owners were resistant to a new deal because they feared it didn't address the concerns that led to the lockout in the first place -- namely, the owner's unhappiness with the 2006 CBA.

Also not helping: CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman is reporting that some owners have contacted their star players, telling them that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is leading them in the wrong direction. The NFL, of course, prohibits communication between teams and players during the lockout.

Sounds like a job for the commissioner, as well as Robert Kraft and John Mara, two of the most well-respected owners in the league.

The Chicago attendees include Goodell, Pash, outside counsel Bob Batterman, labor committee co-chairmen Jerry Richardson and Pat Bowlen, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Giants owner John Mara, Bengals owner Mike Brown, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Steelers president Art Rooney, Chargers president Dean Spanos and Packers CEO Mark Murphy.

As PFT.com's Mike Florio notes, Kraft's not on the list but he should be.

For now, all we can do is wait.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: June 20, 2011 12:24 pm

Rookie wage scale still needs to be addressed

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Though the issue of a rookie wage scale likely won’t keep a new CBA from coming together -- there’s still, for instance, that tiny issue of how to split up $9 billion -- it still is a topic on which the owners and the players will have to reach consensus in order to end the lockout.

According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, sources tell him that a rookie scale “could limit contract length for non-quarterback first-round picks to four years while other draftees could sign three-year deals, allowing a faster track to free agency (albeit restricted free agency in some cases). Another provision could eliminate option bonuses and other triggers that stretch salary cap dollars.”

Assuming that rookie wage scale is negotiated into a new CBA, you can pretty much forget about seeing owners -- who will meet in Chicago on Tuesday -- give a contract like No. 1 pick Sam Bradford received in 2010 ($50 million guaranteed) or No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford got in 2009 ($41 million).

Panthers No. 1 pick Cam Newton, who perhaps could have fetched as much as $60 million guaranteed during the previous era, most likely will get less than that from the Panthers when he finally can sign.

"It won't be the same," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, via the newspaper. "We all know that it's a common area of interest between us and the players. So it's reasonable to assume that there will be some changes there."

And while many players and fans believe the money saved by not paying rookies so much money would float uphill to the veteran players, that’s not a view held by all. In fact, some believe the more money that rookies can earn makes everybody that much more valuable.

Like agent Tom Condon, who told Bell, “Historically, contracts for rookies at the top of the draft helped veteran players.”

Of course, Condon has represented six of the past eight No. 1 picks, so he has a miniscule reason to hope top picks continue to make top money.

But ultimately, it’s hard to fault players who believe rookies should actually accomplish something in the NFL before they’re paid tens of millions dollars.

Which is why a rookie wage scale is going to happen.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 19, 2011 3:00 pm

As new CBA nears, free-agency rules still unclear

Posted by Ryan Wilson

NFL owners are scheduled to meet in Chicago Tuesday, and they have been told to plan to stay late, presumably in order to continue hammering out the details of a new collective bargaining agreement. And depending on which source you consult, the new CBA could usher in the 2011 season by mid-July.

The biggest issue between the owners and players has been about how to split the 10-figure revenue pie, but there are plenty of other important details to sort out, too. Like the nuances of free agency and the salary-cap rules that will accompany it.

In a typical offseason, free agency began in March. Now NFL teams could have just a few days to review any changes to free-agency rules resulting from the new CBA before a hectic signing period would take place prior to training camp.

The Green Bay Press Gazette's Pete Dougherty writes about a looming labor resolution as it relates to the Packers' roster, but the overall theme holds for the other 31 teams, as well.
If the deal isn’t finished until closer to the start of camps, or after camps were scheduled to have opened, most of the signings and the beginning of camps could overlap in an especially chaotic time for front offices, coaches and players.

Teams are working from the assumption that the new CBA will return eligibility for unrestricted free agency to four years service, the same as it was from 1993 through 2009. That’s not guaranteed but is the most likely outcome of the pending CBA talks.

Less certain is how the CBA will handle restricted free agency this season.
Restricted free agency will have to be worked out ahead of time, and it could even be canceled for 2011. As for whether free agency will require just four years of service (as it was from '93 to '09) or remain at five (as it did in 2010) is still unknown. Clearly, Dougherty thinks four years is likely, while the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly tweeted on June 9: "Word on the street is '10 rules will apply IF a new CBA gets done so it looks like [DeAngelo] Williams/ [Ahmad] Bradshaw are is out."

Because it's cheaper, teams would prefer to push free agency as far off into the future as possible. Not surprisingly, players want the opposite. Rotoworld points out that "No one, from Adam Schefter to Peter King, has been able to get a good read on what rules will end up in place, but the pre-2010 assumption has merit as long as there is agreement on a new CBA." 

Hopefully, Tuesday's meeting will go a long way in settling these issues. Because, frankly, the prospect of a shortened NFL season appeals to absolutely no one, even if history says it won't much affect the eventual playoff teams.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com