Tag:Labor Talks
Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:14 pm
 

Pre-draft workouts in jeopardy without a CBA?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL combine is critical for teams to evaluate potential draftees, but it's not the whole shebang, either. Pro days at individual schools and, perhaps MOST importantly, individual workouts with candidates give teams a good idea of whether a player represents a sound investment.

The last two could be in serious jeopardy, though, according to what's leaking out of NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith's meeting with a group of agents at the combine, where the one thing Smith apparently didn't discuss was the mediation that went down in D.C. recently.

He only told, according to our own Mike Freeman, the group of agents there was "some" progress while prepping them for lockout contingencies.

That's good news only in that if a ton of mediation-related information started leaking out right after his talks with agents -- and it would if he talked about it -- the owners might not take too kindly to him violating the media blackout.

The owners might not be too thrilled with some of the reports about what kind of access they'll have to rookies, either.

Adam Caplan of FOX Sports reports that, according to agent sources present during Smith's presentation, teams won't be able to talk to agents about rookies at pro days during a lockout.

Even worse is the news that Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reported -- the individual meetings with teams might disappear entirely.

"[I'm] being told teams will not be able to do individual pre draft workouts," a source told Wilson. "The union considers that communication in regards to financial situations for the players.

"[I] don't see that happening."

Contradicting all of that, though, is NFLPA spokesman George Atallah.

"We'd be hard pressed to stand in the way of a player doing something he needs to do," Atallah said Friday.

But that's the Catch-22 -- the players need to talk with teams to make more money (and, inherently, so do the agents) and teams need to talk to players in order to figure out who they want to draft. Unfortunately, the labor cloud keeps looming and we have to keep wondering when the next public dust-up will occur.

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Posted on: February 25, 2011 12:48 pm
 

De Smith honors media blackout in agent meeting

Posted by Mike Freeman

INDIANAPOLIS -- Union head DeMaurice Smith briefed agents on Friday about the ongoing labor talks. An agent in the room told CBSSports.com that Smith said some progress was made but Smith declined to speak with agents specifically about the mediation talks with the league.

The agent stated Smith declined many questions from agents about the mediation discussions. In fact, the agent said, Smith started the meeting with the specific ground rules he wouldn't talk about the mediation. (First rule of Fight Club: you don't talk about Fight Club.)

It's actually smart of Smith not to discuss the mediation talks. The minute he does with agents, it would get out to the media.

Smith instead spent much of the meeting with agents discussing contingencies if there is indeed a lockout. Agents were told to instruct players to save money and get private health insurance two measures most players have long since done (or tried to do).

Bottom line: a lockout is coming barring a last second miracle. The union knows it. The league knows it. Nothing happened in this meeting changes that belief.

This was cross-posted from Mike Freeman's FreeStyle blog. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: February 23, 2011 11:59 am
 

NFL calls for Thursday meeting of GMs, coaches

Posted by Will Brinson

A Thursday meeting of agents and the NFLPA was recently cancelled because of mediation talks in Washington, D.C., but that didn't stop the NFL from calling a meeting of general managers and coaches for Thursday in Indianapolis.

Presumably, the NFL wants to sit down with high-ranking members of its various teams and discuss precisely what's going on with the league as the deadline for a new CBA nears.

And, according to what NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Albert Breer of the NFL Network, there's "nothing special" about this little powwow.

"It happens every year," Aiello said. "It's a normal part of the Combine, which always has meetings galore. It's not the first time. It's not a special meeting. An update on labor negotiations would be appropriate."

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the NFL will also detail to those in attendance what sort of activities will be allowed during a locked-out offseason, and what kind of contact will be allowed between agents and teams during that time as well.

And these are things that teams need to know, regardless of whether the NFL and NFLPA are making progress in their seven-day mediation or not. The question as to why the NFLPA cancelled its Thursday meeting can best be answered by a series of tweets from spokesman George Atallah Tuesday, when he mentioned that the "tiny minority of agents who click "FWD" on an email to the media faster than [Chris Johnson] can run the 40 is not helpful." In other words, the NFLPA didn't want to meet with a slew of agents on Thursday and have some news of the meeting -- which would likely include details of the mediation process -- leak to the media.

It's much less likely that a hand-picked group of coaches and GMs would let spill to the various members of the press the happenings of that meeting (they have much less to gain by doing so), and the NFL's got a clear-cut opportunity to sit down with folks that need to know the information in the form of the Combine. So, nothing to see here. Yet.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 8:02 pm
 

NFL, NFLPA full of 'no comments' after mediation

Posted by Will Brinson

The first full day of mediation between the NFL and the NFLPA has ended, and true to their earlier claim, there wasn't any talking about what went on with behind close doors.

Via Albert Breer of the NFL Network -- who, bless him, loitered his tail off in the nation's capitol waiting for the two sides to end Friday's session -- neither side had much to say following the session on Friday. To wit:

Pete Kendall of the NFLPA: "We're not gonna get into it."

Charlie Batch, NFLPA rep: "Can't say anything."

Richard Berthlesen of the NFLPA: "Can't comment on it."

DeMaurice Smith also "declined comment on his way out" while Roger Goodell and the NFL officials "slipped out the back door."

So, yeah, mum's the word after the first day of mediation, and that's probably a good thing. Eventually, some info will probably slip out vis-a-vis anonymous sources (though with both sides ordered not to say anything, there's a lot less likely to be a chance of "leaked" info), but it's probably safe to say that Friday wasn't precisely full of heavy negotiating.

Everyone involved in the mediation knows there's a long way to go before anything gets remotely solved, but the simple fact that no one's enraged by any early face-to-face action and/or proposals through one day of this process is at least a positive sign.

That won't solve the CBA crisis right away, but it's at least reason for some cautious optimism.

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Posted on: February 10, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:01 pm
 

What caused the NFL and NFLPA to walk out?

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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Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:22 am
Edited on: February 10, 2011 9:43 am
 

Report: Thursday CBA meeting cancelled

Posted by Will Brinson

During the Super Bowl, the NFL and NFLPA scheduled some "intensive" meetings for this week. Now, Thursday's meeting -- the second of the week -- has reportedly been cancelled.

That's according to ESPN's Adam Schefter who reports that things went so poorly on Wednesday that the two sides decided not to meet again Thursday.

"We are not confirming, denying or commenting on CBA meetings at this point," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in response to the report. "We are focusing on getting an agreement."

As if that weren't damaging enough to the potential for actually seeing football in 2011, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that next week's ownership meeting has been cancelled as well.

The assumption of his source -- and it seems like a good one -- is that Roger Goodell has no need to meet with the owners as there won't have been any new developments in the CBA discussions thanks to the cancellation of the meetings.

"The commissioner canceled the meeting because he did not see a need for it right now," an NFL rep confirmed to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal.

But why was Thursday's CBA session cancelled? Well, that's not exactly clear.

Theoretically, it could have been cancelled for good reasons -- too much progress? -- but when two sides walk away from the negotiating table, it's typically not good news.

And it seems more likely that the sides are far apart, and that whatever sense of urgency to negotiate that the week in Dallas brought on has since been discarded as they stare into the future and try to bridge a very long gap.

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Posted on: January 26, 2011 3:43 pm
 

DeMaurice Smith also willing to take a salary cut

Posted by Will Brinson

Earlier Wednesday, Roger Goodell sent a letter to NFL owners indicating that he (and a number of other NFL employees) would take a serious salary cut if there was a work stoppage.

DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, has one-upped him.

"NFL executives reducing salaries in the event of a lockout? If we have a deal by Super Bowl, I'll go down to 68 cents," Smith tweeted Wednesday.

Of course, it's much, much more likely that there's no "work stoppage" (ah, vague rhetoric) than it is that there's a labor deal in place within the next 10 days.

So Smith's salary is pretty safe. But that probably wasn't his point -- what he likely was implying is that, in the big scheme of things, "salary cuts" are pointless PR manipulations designed to curry favor with the fans.

None of that will matter, of course, if there's no football for fans to watch in 2011.

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