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Tag:Labor
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Brees: Deal 'very close' and 'few details' remain

Posted by Will Brinson

Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning issued a statement on labor negotiations recently, and as we noted earlier, it was a pretty bold statement, even though the words might seem similar to a normal press release.

On Wednesday while on XX Radio 1090 in San Diego, Brees confirmed our belief about the statement, and made some even stronger noise about the current state of the lockout, pointing ou that a deal is "very close," and that "few details" remain in nailing down a labor agreement.

"We've taken a significant setback in overall revenue in terms of what we've offered them compared to what we were making," Brees said. "I feel like there's a fair deal there -- we all do -- and we think it's time to step up and make a deal."

And that's precisely why the three most notable players in the current labor negotiations issued a statement regarding their stance.

Latest on Labor
"Yesterday we felt like there's a fair deal on the table and we need to make sure everybody knows this and make sure the owners know this because the season is just around the corner," Brees said about the statement the players issued.

Brees also addressed the issue of retired players, stating that the current players would take care of them in the negotiations, and pointing out that the folks at the current bargaining table are actually pretty close to being retired themselves.

"Maybe they DO have a seat at the table," Brees said about retired players. "I'm the second-youngest guy at the table … these are guys who going to be retired players soon.

"And they're certainly looking out for those guys."

That's gotta be nice to hear if you're a retired player. But much nicer to hear? Brees' comments about how close a deal is and that the players did in fact take a "substantial" cut in order to make something happen.

Obviously there are reasons why they'd do this, and there are probably other areas in which they're going to benefit -- hello, massive free-agent class! -- that enabled them to give up more money.

That's not important. What's important is finishing this puppy off and getting everyone on the football field in time for a normal year of NFL action.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Brady, Manning, Brees statement a bold move

Posted by Will Brinson

Up to this point, plaintiffs Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have been relatively quiet about their activity in the Brady v. NFL antitrust lawsuit and the current labor dispute between the players and the owners.

However, they made their voice known on Wednesday morning in a statement released to the Associated Press that called their latest offer "fair" and said it's "time to get this deal done."

"We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done," Brady, Manning and Brees said in the statement.

"This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way."

The league quickly responded with a statement of their own and -- you'll never believe this -- but they agree! It is time to get a deal done.

Such a notion isn't new to those of us (fans, commentators, etc) who've been on the negotiating sideline while the two sides spent the spring and summer bickering about the division of a couple billion dollars.

The time has been "now" for a while; it was there in March, it was there in April, it was there in May -- you get the point. But the benefit of having three of the biggest-named players in the league step up and publicly endorse the current deal on the table is that the public and the NFL are now aware that there's an ultimatum sitting out there from one of the sides.

Is that a good thing? Yes, if the league's feeling rational and actually does want to settle.

See, Brady/Manning/Brees aren't just issuing a press release or a statement indicating that they're ready for football. This is a legitimate statement to be taken seriously; we've seen how the lawyers are willing to hop into the fray and mess things up for everyone else who wants football.

And we should be legitimately concerned that if too many formal offers go back and forth between the two sides over the next couple of days that we could be facing a "walk away and keep suing" situation from the guys whose names are on the lawsuit.

That's the last thing that anyone wants to happen, and it's why the next three days of negotiating are so critical to ensuring that we have football in 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 12:01 pm
 

Lockout ruling to speed up talks or a Doty hammer

Posted by Will Brinson

When we recently asked seven important lockout questions, one of them dealt with the rulings that were "hanging out there" from U.S. District Judge Doty and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The latter, as we know by now, has been handed down, making the lockout legal, and it's quite possible that Doty's ruling could come soon as well.

But that probably hinges on whether the owners attempt to use the circuit court's ruling as a true source of leverage in the talks that are ongoing Friday and could (should?) continue through the weekend.

See, the owners have a choice, what with the lockout ruling coming down in their favor in the middle of negotiations: They can sit on it or they can use it when they walk into the room with the players.
NFL Labor

If the former happens, it's a good thing; the negotiations will get a kick in the rear vis-a-vis the players' concern that the lockout could extend into perpetuity. And nothing will have actually changed, because everyone expected this ruling in the owners' favor.

Though -- it's worth noting -- the fact that the Eighth Circuit was wise enough to leave open the NFL's legal risk should they lose a full season is tremendous, because it doesn't give anyone incentive to miss a large chunk of football.

If the latter happens, we should fear for the future of football, and we should also expect to see Doty drop a hammer in the form of the television contract rulings. If the owners attempt to maximize the negotiating power a legal lockout gives them, the only way for the players to truly swing the momentum pendulum back to the middle is Doty giving them a big ruling on the television contracts.

Hopefully, it won't come to that, and both sides will see how important it is to get a deal done as soon as possible.

But if they don't play nice in the face of the latest legal ruling, there's a very good shot at Doty dropping a hammer that could truly create labor chaos.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 12:00 pm
 

7 questions to ask for the labor home stretch

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- is ready for the NFL to start back up. (Otherwise, we might end up with Brett Favre putting his name back in the active player pool. And that's no good for anyone.)

And while it might be a simple process for the NFL and NFLPA to suck it up, find some common ground and make a deal happen ASAP, there's still a whole pile of issues to handle before we get the season ready to roll.

So, as we head into the hypothetical home stretch of the labor strife that's plagued NFL fans all summer, let's hit up our trusty seven-question format to figure out what it is we need to know in the next 10 days.

1. I just woke up from the Fourth of July ... are these guys close to a deal at all?
Surprisingly, yes, it sure does seem like the NFL and NFLPA are getting somewhere when it comes to negotiating.

At some point, both sides must have seen the balance sheets for what they stand to lose -- $800 million in revenue just from the preseason, not counting salaries! -- by continuing to be stubborn and decided that playing football was in everyone's interests.

Also, it's important to remember that DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell didn't exactly know each other well before this whole labor strife went down, and they've been, for all intents and purposes, feeling each other out as things went along.

It's infinitely easier to negotiate with someone you've negotiated with a bunch of times in the past, and trying to strike a deal with someone in a supercharged environment doesn't make things any easier.

Plus, if there's not a deadline for making a deal, you don't see people budge off their stances in negotiations. That's not something that's new to the NFL labor talks.
NFL Labor

2. What are the sticking points now?
The same as they've always been. Revenue sharing tops the list, but it's believed the sides are closer than they've ever been on that issue.

The 18-game schedule's been tabled for the time being.

The owners "agreed" on revenue sharing.

Everyone wants something to happen where Al Davis isn't capable of giving JaMarcus Russell $60 million guaranteed ever again. (Or, at least right out of the draft.)

And everyone agrees that the retired players need better benefits. Although, those guys did just sue everyone, and no one's entirely sure how to get them paid, so that could be a problem. But still, it's something that can be sorted out in a quick fashion when people want to make a deal happen.

Just like the rest of the issues.

3. Is there an actual deadline for the NFL and NFLPA to reach an agreement?

Not technically, no, although July 15th has long been considered the "soft deadline" for making something happen. But a deal could be struck any time between Wednesday, July 6, and September 1 and we could still get a full season football.

The problem is that all teams -- even ones like the Packers -- need some kind of training camp and preparation for the season. That might mean that preseason games become more meaningful, but that's not all bad.

Once we move past July 15, there's no longer a convenient window for both free agency and training camps leading up to a full preseason, and things start to get a little hairer.

One of the more interesting aspects to watch about this soft deadline is whether or not an actual deal has to be in place. The rumors coming from the league are that the lockout can't be lifted until all the legal papers are signed/sealed/delivered, but if there's a firm "handshake agreement" in place by next Friday, it would be pretty surprising to see the two sides haggle over some signatures.

4. Are the lawyers really trying to screw the talks up?
You know what my dad always likes to point out to me? That the difference between a dead lawyer in the road and a dead squirrel in the road are the tire marks in front of the squirrel.

And my dad's a lawyer.

Jeff Kessler and Jim Quinn have $10-plus billion reasons to consider trying to keep the two sides in court for the duration of the season. (A favorable verdict for the players would generate a big, old trough full of money, of which they'd get to amply slurp at.)

Which is why it's good news that the team of attorneys for the players are supposedly reworking their contract (and/or that De Smith listened to my man Mike Freeman's advice) -- if Quinn and Kessler are off of the contingency-fee deal, there's much less motivation for them to stay in court for a lengthy amount of time.

5. Wait, what about that whole "the players sued the owners and everyone's fighting in court" thing?
The rulings at the District Court in Minnesota and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals are the gigantic elephant and gorilla, respectively, that you see in the back of the metaphorical room.

As of now, both the television ruling from Judge David Doty at the District Court level (leveraging how much in damages the players are owed) and the ruling on the permanency of the lockout (leveraging how long the owners can keep the players away from work) are in a holding pattern.

This is because the two sides have continually made progress on a deal that could get done without the court having to rule either way on either issue.

If the two courts do rule, though, things are going to get ugly, because suddenly all the angry feelings the two sides have temporarily put aside are going to start rearing up again.

6. Enough lawyer stuff -- when does my team get to sign free agents?
This is probably the trickiest question of all, because it's going to depend on the lockout being lifted first, natch.

But let's say that a deal does happen by July 15 and the lockout's lifted -- then we're probably facing a 48-hour (or thereabouts) window with which teams have to wait to sign free agents.

It's possible, based on some reports, that teams -- like the Carolina Panthers -- with a lot of restricted free agents (RFAs) will help muscle some sort of right of first refusal deal into the new CBA.

That scenario would give teams like the Panthers a chance to ink their big-name players -- in this case DeAngelo Williams and Charles Johnson -- that they didn't expect to become free agents.

But it's highly unlikely that the players cave on that issue, if only because the owners choose to opt out of the CBA themselves, thereby setting up a scenario in which the market became flooded with an unexpected amount of high-quality players.

7. So what are the chances a deal actually happens by July 15?
I'm going with the same answer I gave three months ago (before the lockout!): 75 percent. That doesn't make me a soothsayer, and it might actually make me wrong for the time being, but there really is too much to lose for both sides not to make something happen.

Don't get me wrong -- there is PLENTY that can cause these talks to explode and send both sides scurrying away from the negotiating table, back into the court room and as far away from the football field as you can get.

We could lose the preseason. And we could still lose the regular season.

But right now, both the owners and the players know there's a 10-day-ish window in which they can hammer out a deal, get the season started on time, make all the money they would have made anyway, and get right back in the good graces of football fans everywhere.

And the difference between now and the beginning of March isn't just a calendar date -- this time around, both sides appear ready to work with each other to make a deal happen and get football back on track.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.


Posted on: July 5, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 7:06 pm
 

NFLPA lawyers renegotiating to a 'flat fee'?

Posted by Will Brinson

Much of the CBA chatter over the holiday weekend focused on the fact that Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn were potentially submarining positive momentum in the current CBA negotiations.

It's precisely why Mike Freeman advised DeMaurice Smith needed to "send your lawyers packing," and it's particularly interesting given that Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated is hearing that the NFLPA lawyers are renegotiating their fee contract with the players.

"I'm hearing the NFLPA has renegotiated its contracts with outside counsel," Trotter tweeted on Tuesday. "Hearing the term 'flat fee' is included in the deal." The presumption here, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, is that the lawyers were being paid on a contingency fee. (There are generally three types of lawyer fees: either hourly/billable, contingency which is based on the outcome, or a flat fee, which is paid regardless of what happens.)

What makes this interesting is that if Quinn and Kessler were contracted on contingency for their work in the Brady v. NFL matter, they were probably eyeing an absolutely monumental payday if the players won the case.

The quick math, based on a range of 25-to-33 percent, tells us that had they won the deal, the floor for their attorney fees could have been something along the lines of $3 billion.

Most importantly, though, is what a potential renegotiation means for the future of football: If the NFLPA is reworking the manner in which the attorneys are paid, it sure does seem as if the players are envisioning a scenario in which their lawsuit won't be necessary for too much longer.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Break from CBA talks needs to become a gut check

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA are taking the holiday weekend off from negotiating a new CBA. Some folks might see this as a problem, because it means a break from negotiations and continued progress.

However, there's reason to think that this weekend could be a gamechanger, provided that both sides remember exactly what "negotiating" means.

As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported over the past few days, the owners are presenting scenarios that don't fit in line with what they'd previously offered, and the NFLPA lawyers are refusing to budge on the issue of retired-player benefits. That, folks, is not negotiating, unless the word suddenly became a synonym for "being stubborn."

This weekend shouldn't be a time to sit around and gripe about who said what in which room, and whether this or that proposal was insulting. This is a weekend to realize that America is sitting around enjoying the summer, not really complaining about the lack of football, and patiently waiting for the two sides to strike a deal.

Latest on Labor

This weekend needs to be the two sides talking apart from one another and understanding that now is a time for a negotiation gut check.

The NFL needs to understand that it HAS to give in on certain areas, and the NFLPA needs to understand that it HAS to find some leeway on others.

That might sound silly and obvious, but it's -- plainly -- exactly what comprises negotiating.

We've constantly heard leaders from both sides preach about dialogue and the need for bargaining during this process. And we've constantly been told that there's ample reason for optimism despite the fact that there's not any football on the horizon.

But there's no concrete proof of any actual negotiating; there's no guarantee that either one of the sides can willingly find some room for concessions that will forward the progress of the best sport in the country.

And that's why a break is critical -- everyone involved in the negotiations of a new CBA for the NFL needs to take this time off to realize just how close we are to the beginning of the football season, to assess the goals of these negotiations, to figure out what the respective breaking points of each side on each issue are, and to find a way to hammer out a deal when negotiations resume on Tuesday.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.


Posted on: June 30, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 6:02 pm
 

Podcast: Suh talks Lions, labor, Fairley and more

Posted by Will Brinson



Ndamukong Suh had a pretty good year last year, and it stands to reason that 2011 could be even better.

Not only do the Lions look much-improved, but he'll have a wrecking ball partner-in-crime in Nick Fairley to team up with and go after quarterbacks.

We talked to Suh about the Lions, the lockout, Fairley, delivering avocados and much, much more on the podcast today.

Just hit the play button and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.



If you can't view the podcast, click here to download.


Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:54 pm
 

Report: Smith tells players optimism is 'way off'

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been more than ample reason to wax optimistically about the NFL's labor situation over the past few weeks, with Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith playing friendly for the NFLPA's Rookie Symposium the chief reason.

But Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on Wednesday night that such optimism is misguided, and that Smith called a large group of players to throw cold water on any hopes they had for a CBA deal this week.

Glazer reports that "50 Pro Bowlers were given call-in information but the number who participated is unknown," although he does point out that player reps Ray Lewis of the Ravens and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars were on the line.

"How optimistic are you that a deal will get done soon?" Lewis asked, according to Glazer.

Smith then told Lewis, according to Glazer, that "there is reason for hope."

However, Smith reportedly told Jones-Drew and others that there are serious gaps to bridge, specifically the sharing of revenue with retired players and the number of years needed to become a free agent.

"At one point, we were asked if we could sell six years of free agency to our locker rooms and we all said there’s no way," one player on the call told Glazer. "We heard about that and the [issue of] retired players — and that is even before we start talking about splitting the revenue."
Latest on Labor

Another player told Glazer that now he feels "a little more informed" than he'd felt from simply watching "the news for updates."

It's a bit disturbing to hear the disconnect from reports of what's being done publicly compared to what Glazer heard from these players.

But it's also important to remember that just because Smith told the players a deal isn't done doesn't mean a deal can't be done. In fact, the theory that something could be wrapped up by this weekend is nice, but probably too optimistic.

No one ever thought figuring out the revenue split, the rookie wage scale, the free agency issue and retired-player benefits would be easy. And it won't be.

But with enough time to get a deal done and still have a "normal season" -- more than two weeks, if you want to play the "soft deadline" game and target July 15 -- and with Goodell and Smith spending plenty of "quality time" together, it's perfectly acceptable to maintain the "cautiously optimistic" status quo for now.

Just remember the cautious part.

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