Posted on: July 21, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 12:16 am

NFLPA email says owners proposal could be illegal

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFLPA sent out two emails Thursday -- one from Executive Director DeMaurice Smith after the owners voted to approve the new collective bargaining agreement, and another from Richard Berthelsen, of the NFLPA legal team, that was made public after the conference call between Smith and the 32 player representatives.

The second email called into question several issues, chief among them that the NFLPA recertify as a union within a predetermined time period.

Details of the email via NFL Network's Albert Breer:

"In addition to depriving the players of the time needed to consider forming a union and making needed changes to the old agreement, this proposed procedure would in my view also violate federal labor laws," the email read. "Those laws prohibit employers from coercing their employees into forming a union, and could result in any agreement reached through the procedure being declared null and void."

NFL Network legal analyst Gabe Feldman spoke Thursday night about the NFLPA's concerns.

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"It's not only pegging the date, but it's making a deal contingent on the reforming of a union," Feldman said. "Which would be management pressuring employees to form a union -- which is illegal. You can't, as an employer, force or coerce your employers to form a union. …

"The [NFLPA] worried, I think … [that the owners' agreement says] they will recertify by July 27. And the deal's contingent on that, and the players have said all along, 'We'll recertify when we're ready to recertify."

Feldman offered a possible resolution, one that doesn't require the NFLPA to recertify by next Wednesday.

"Here's a way it can work out: Instead of [the NFL] saying we won't open up camps on July 27 unless [the NFLPA] recertifies, say 'We will open up camps, we will start the league year, conditioned on at some point you recertify.' It doesn't have to be by July 27."

For now, just like the previous 128 days, we wait.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 11:04 pm

Players decline to vote on NFL proposal

Posted by Will Brinson

The steady, optimistic road towards labor peace came to a pessimistic pile-up when the NFL owners ratified (their own) proposal to settle the labor situation and the players decided to not to vote on the proposal during their conference call with team reps on Thursday night.

It was an absolute about-face for labor negotiations that seemed to be wrapping up earlier in the day, but given the way events unfolded after the NFL's decision to ratify a proposal the players allegedly hadn't seen, the lack of a vote shouldn't be shocking.

All reports indicate that the players will vote, but that they want to understand the full ramifications of the NFL's proposal before doing so.

In fact, many a player rep said the players hadn't even seen the NFL's proposal, including Panthers rep and punter Jason Baker.

"Once we do [see the proposal] we will take the necessary time to make sure the players understand the facts, then make the appropriate decisions at that time," Baker said, per Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

And some optimism among players still remains, like

"We are going to get a deal done," Jaguars linebacker Kirk Morrison said on television late Thursday night.

But it's also clear that the decision to ratify a proposal the players weren't aware of didn't sit well with everyone on the NFLPA side -- look no further than some of the comments players issued to CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman.

"Contrary to reports out there" there is no vote scheduled Friday, player rep George Wilson said, per Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal. "This is not Armageddon.

"This is nothing more than an attempt to get the fans to turn on the players."

That's exactly why we predicted this morning that public pressure would flip squarely to the players if the owners ratified a proposal today. We just didn't think it would all shake down like this.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 9:17 pm

Key terms of new CBA as voted on by NFL owners

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

ATLANTA – As you know, the NFL owners voted 31-0 to approve a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA that will last for the next 10 years. Also, as you know, the players haven’t approved the deal -- and ultimately they might not.

In any case, here are the key terms of the new CBA that will last through the 2020 season and includes the 2021 NFL draft (assuming the NFLPA ratifies it as it stands).

Player health and safety
  • Reducing the offseason program by five weeks and reducing OTAs from 14 to 10.
  • Limiting on-field practice time and contact (unspecified).
  • Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season (unspecified).
  • Increasing number of days off for players (unspecified).
  • Current players could remain in the player medical plan for life, and there will be an enhanced injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player’s salary the year after his injury and up to $500,000 in the second year after his injury. 
  • $50 million per year to a joint fund for “medical research, healthcare programs, and NFL Charities, including NFLPA-related charities.” 
Retired players benefits
  • During the next 10 years, there will be an additional funding of between $900 million and $1 billion -- $620 million of that will be used for a “Legacy Fund,” which will increase pensions for pre-1993 retirees. 
  • Other unspecified improvements to post-career medical options and the disability plan. 
Rookie compensation system
  • All drafted players sign four-year contracts. 
  • Undrafted players sign three-year contracts. 
  • A salary cap per draft class -- Limited contract terms. 
  • Strong anti-holdout rules -- Clubs can extend option of a first-round draft pick for a fifth year based on agreed-upon tender amounts. 
  • Salary cap plus benefits of $142.4 million per club ($120.375 million for salary and bonus) and at least that amount in 2012 and 2013. 
  • Beginning in 2012, salary cap to be set “based on a combined share of ‘all revenue.’” Players will receive 55 percent of national media revenue, 45 percent of NFL Ventures revenue and 40 percent of local club revenue. 
  • Player share must average at least 47 percent for the 10-year agreement. 
  • League-wide commitment to cash spending of 99 percent of the cap in 2011 and 2012. For 2013-2016, and again for the 2017-2020 seasons, the teams have to spend at least 95 percent of the cap. 
  • Minimum salaries will rise 10 percent in Year 1 with continued increases for each year. 
Transition rules
  • All teams will have about $3.5 million to fund veteran player salaries in 2011. That money comes from what would otherwise be performance-based pay. 
  • In 2011, each team can borrow up to $3 million in cap room from a future year, which would then be used for the veteran player costs. In 2012, that figure drops to $1.5 million, which can be borrowed. 
Other key points
  • Franchise tags and transition tags would remain unchanged. 
  • Player personal conduct policy remains the same and can be used to discipline players who violated it during the lockout.
  • No early opt-out clauses. 
  • No judicial oversight of the agreement. Neutral arbitrators jointly approved by the NFL and NFLPA would resolve disputes. 
  • Settlement of ALL pending litigation. 
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Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 9:49 am

Smith to players: 'There is no agreement'

Posted by Will Brinson

There was much rejoicing in the land of NFL fans on Thursday night when the NFL owners voted 31-0 to ratify a settlement agreement. There's just one problem: it's not exactly in-line with what the players were expecting.

CBSSSports.com has obtained an email from NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to the players a few moments ago that indicates precisely how they feel.

"As you know the Owners have ratified their proposal to settle our differences. It is my understanding that they are forwarding it to us," the email reads. "As you may have heard, they apparently approved a supplemental revenue sharing proposal. Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions.

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"As you know from yesterday, issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open, other issues such as workers compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms remain unresolved.

Smith's email concludes in a fashion that should sufficiently point out how differently the players view the owners' proposal.

"There is no agreement between the NFL and the Players at this time," Smith concludes. "I look forward to our call tonight."

The biggest fear for everyone involved is that the players might see the owners' decision to approve their own deal as a way of pushing public perception against the players. And that's entirely possible, but we won't know for sure until the end of the NFLPA call.

One thing's for sure, though: this isn't over yet.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 7:45 pm

NFL owners vote to approve settlement

Posted by Eye on Football Staff

ATLANTA -- After a 10-minute break turned into a lengthy evening siesta that unnerved more than a number of NFL reporters, the NFL owners voted to pass a resolution approving settlement of the Brady v. NFL lawsuit, according to the NFL Network.

"The clubs approved an agreement that was negotiated with the players this afternoon," Commissioner Roger Goodell said at his press conference following the vote. "In addition to approving that agreement we also approved a supplemental revenue sharing system for the next 10 years (with no opt-out by either the owners or players during that time).

"With this ratification and with the ratification of the NFLPA board, we will be prepared to open training facilities beginning on this Saturday. We will then be prepared to start the new league year Wednesday, subject to the full membership of the players, ratifying the agreement and recertifying as a union."

So while the four-game preseason schedule and the subsequent regular season appear safe, the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, has been cancelled.

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"Obviously, you know that we're all under a time constraint," Goodell said. "That's one of the reasons we worked to get this agreement completed tonight. We are unfortunately going to have to cancel the Hall of Fame Game this year. The time is just too short, and we feel it's important for all 32 teams to be operating with the same number of preseason games and also starting camp at the same date. … But the [Hall of Fame] ceremonies will go on."

NFL attorney Jeff Pash explained what will happen after the NFLPA ratifies.

"Once the ratification process has been completed, there would be a period where the players would come, you do their physicals, get your rosters in order," Pash said. 'Teams could begin signing their own players -- their draftees and the like -- with the contracts sort of being in a state of suspended animation.

"What would you have is an opening of the new league year perhaps on next Wednesday, July 27."

This means that the ball is now firmly in the players' court; the NFLPA has an 8:00 PM conference call scheduled.

"I just spoke to DeMaurice [Smith] 20 minutes ago," Goodell said. "He's going to go take care of his business."

In a sign of where things still stand, though, it's important to note that this does not mean everything's finished.

"To clarify: NFL Owners Ratify PROPOSAL to end LOCKOUT," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah tweeted during Goodell's announcement.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 7:07 pm

Report: Mankins says he'll sign off on settlement

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (6:30 p.m. EST): Ron Borges of the Boston Herald tweets on Thursday night that, "Logan Mankins has just informed the NFLPA leadership he will sign off on a settlement of the Brady v. NFL case without seeking compensation."

As the world turns in the NFL's Thursday afternoon labor soap opera, one critical issue remains: the financial demands of named-plaintiffs Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson.

These demands have been characterized as a big stumbling block, since both players reportedly want $10 million each to settle the litigation. However, Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer, disputed the claim that his client ever made any sort of financial demand.

"I think it's really unfair what has happened to Logan Mankins in media characterizations that he is making monetary demands or holding up a settlement," Bauer said, per ESPN.
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"Logan Mankins is a young man who was encouraged and solicited into a lawsuit to help the union spearhead a new agreement. Logan's main concern for entering into as a plaintiff was to see if he can become free and help other players have less restrictions."

Of course, putting his name on the lawsuit WAS a tough decision and Mankins certainly put his name out there for scrutiny. So if he wanted something in return it wouldn't be shocking. But Bauer emphasized he "hasn't made any such demand."

"For people to say he has made monetary demands, he hasn't made any such demand," Bauer said. "We don't know terms. We haven't talked to (NFLPA attorney) Jeff Kessler. There has been no communication, but it's irresponsible to report Logan has made monetary demands.

"Are we disappointed there has been no communication? Hugely. He trusted the union and Kessler to fight for Logan Mankins and the other players."

So, yeah, wow, that's kind of a game-changer. If Mankins doesn't want money and if Jackson doesn't want money in exchange for settling the lawsuit, it's only going to crank up the vitriol for Kessler, the NFLPA lawyer.

And it means there's a pretty simple solution sitting out there: make Mankins and Jackson franchise-tag-free players going forward. If those two plaintiffs would agree to that in part of their settlement, it could move things along much more speedily than having the two sides quarrel about demands that apparently weren't ever made.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 1:43 pm

Owners vote would put public pressure on players

Posted by Will Brinson

Right now, there's ample pressure on both the owners and the players to get a Global Settlement Agreement locked in, so that the NFL year can begin relatively on time.

That duel pressure might not last though -- CBSSports.com's own Clark Judge reported from the owners meetings that "a majority of owners" in Atlanta on Thursday are planning to attend Myra Kraft's funeral on Friday morning.

And as a result, the owners are expected to vote on a new deal Thursday. They are also likely to ratify the deal -- every owner who's found his way in front of a camera believes there will be enough votes on the table to do so.

That means that by Thursday evening, if the NFLPA hasn't cleared the necessary obstacles to approve a settlement agreement, there could be a tremendous shift in public pressure to the players' side.

See, the owners are still locking the players out. No one's denying that. But as soon as they vote "yes" in their meeting, lift the lockout and start planning for a season there's only one group to blame if there's no football: the players.

Would it be the fault of all the players that a deal isn't taken care of by now? Of course not. In fact, there are probably two players specifically that you can point to when it comes to holding things up.

You can absolutely make the argument that Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins deserve some compensation for not only getting hosed by the CBA but for putting their names on the Brady v. NFL lawsuit, but it's going to be difficult for their attorneys to continue justifying a hold-up of the NFL season.

Because no matter what level of compensation -- the $20 million Jackson/Mankins want, or even the $320 million the players want in back benefits, for example -- and no matter how many players we're talking about, in the eyes of the fans, it will simply not justify delaying the start of the NFL season any longer.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 12:51 pm

Cassel: Offseason 'went as well as it could have'

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- With the NFL lockout days -- possibly hours -- away from ending, plenty of veterans are getting in one last workout before heading to their respective in-season homes and awaiting instructions.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel is wrapping up a week-long trip to Southern California to visit family but decided to head up to Pepperdine University to work out Wednesday and dropped in on Nike's Elite 11 quarterback competition. The seven-year veteran spoke with many of the country's finest high-school quarterbacks and even went through drills with the youngsters steps from the Pacific Ocean.

"I'm having a blast," Cassel said with a grin. "It's always fun to come out here and mess around with these young bucks that will come up and hopefully not take my job. It's fun because of the youthfulness and energy and excitement that's going on in a lot of these kids' lives being recruited at these big-time universities."

Cassel is an Elite 11 alum, having been put through the paces as a senior at nearby Chatsworth High before enrolling at USC. Though he didn't start a game for the Trojans, the path that ultimately led him to starting in the pros was part of the advice he relayed to the young signal-callers.

"What I always remind these guys of, especially playing the quarterback position, is you better get used to adversity," Cassel said. "Everyone of us is going to face it, whether it's on the field or off the field. You just have to continue to work hard and be a leader and be accountable to your teammates."

It's certainly been an offseason full of adversity for the Chiefs (and every other NFL team for that matter) this year. Though the lockout has wiped away most of their team activities, Cassel has managed to find some time for players to come together this summer and get some work in lieu of team-organized activities.

"It's been going well, we had a mini-camp where about 50 guys showed up and we've also had a lot of guys come out and participate in just throwing sessions," he said. "It went as well as it could have gone this offseason under the circumstances. 31 other teams have to go through the same thing so hopefully we'll be on track."

Recent signs that the NFL and NFLPA are getting close on a deal has increased optimism among players in the league looking to get back on the field Cassel said.

"As players, we all hope something will get done soon," he said. "We want to get back out there and get to work. It has been a difficult offseason for a lot of people, and I'm sure with all the new coaches and the turnover, it will be a tough transition for a lot of people."

Bryan Fischer mans CBS' Eye on Recruiting blog -- read it here and follow him on Twitter. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com