Posted by Will Brinson
Great question -- and no one can know the answer until either Roger Goodell/Greg Aiello or DeMaurice Smith/George Atallah let the world know, which they probably won't, because it would be disastrous for negotiations.
However, there are several reports out there that indicate various proposals were made to the NFL by the NFLPA, and those caused a breakdown in talks.
First up, the NFPA, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, offered to split of "all revenue" 50/50 with the league. (Important to note here is that there's a difference in what's recognized as "all revenue" and "total revenue" -- it's like "gross" versus "net" and net/total is achieved, right now, by the owners taking a $1 billion credit off the top.)
Reportedly, the union told the owners they'd stop asking to look inside the owners' financial books if the owners agreed to simply split "all revenue," which would mean no more $1 billion credit off the top, and certainly no $2 billion credit that the owners are seeking under a new CBA.
Needless to say, this could be perceived as a very good reason why negotiations broke down.
But there were also, according to Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post, significant discrepancies in other areas. Namely, the rookie wage scale and length of rookie contracts.
Brandt reports that the proposal on the rookie from the NFLPA limited rookie contracts to four years for players drafted in rounds 1-3, three years for rounds 4-7 and had a cap on incentives and savings to veterans. He also notes this was formally rejected by the NFL this week, as the league wants a wage scale, no negotiations, five-year contracts for players taken in the first round and four-year contracts for those taken in every other round.
Making matters worse, per Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, is the union's interpretation of the rookie wage scale proposed by ownership -- according to Mullen, a memo from DeMaurice Smith called the proposal a "veteran wage scale" because it affects "60 percent" of NFL players in the league with its length.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post obtained a copy of that memo -- in it, Smith tells players that "what is new [in the NFL's proposal] mostly makes the proposal worse not only for rookies but for veteran players with three to five years in the league -- the core of our membership."
The memo also refers to the wage scale as "rigid" and indicates it would "destroy the benefits of free agency for most veteran players." Maske notes that Smith's memo lays out the NFL's proposal for precise financial compensation, setting the rookie minimum salary at: $285,000 in 2011, $375,000 in 2012, $460,000 in 2013 and $545,000 in 2013.
To clarify the stark difference in what each side wants, here's a financial example: with the NFLPA proposal, the ninth-overall pick would receive $18 million over four years. Under the NFL proposal, the ninth-overall pick would receive $8.6 million over five years.
Labor negotiations are ridiculously complicated, but you don't have to be a math major to figure out just how far apart the two sides are right now. And the fact that the rookie wage scale won't be fully addressed until the division of the full "pie" (read: all and/or total revenue) is solved is further proof that there's plenty of labor discussion and hand-wringing over the NFL's situation ahead.
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