With the NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the NFLPA set to expire after the 2020 season, the two sides have been busy trying negotiate a new deal this offseason, and although things seem to be going well, DeMaurice Smith is still telling players to plan for a work stoppage.
Smith, who serves as the executive director of the NFLPA, sent out an email to agents around the league this week telling them to make sure their clients are financially prepared for a lockout or strike of at least one year.
"We are advising players to plan for a work stoppage of at least a year in length," the email states.
The email was obtained by the Sports Business Journal.
Although the email doesn't necessarily mean that a work stoppage is going to happen, it does mean that Smith is concerned enough about the possibility that he wants to make sure players are saving money now in case it happens.
Some players, like Todd Gurley, are already preparing for a work stoppage. In San Francisco, Richard Sherman has been saying since September that a work stoppage will happen once the current CBA expires.
Smith has already seen one work stoppage happen during his tenure with the NFLPA and that came in 2011, when the players were locked out for nearly five months. To avoid a lockout, the NFL and NFLPA will have to hammer out a deal that works for both sides.
For the players, that will likely mean a deal that gives them an increased share of league revenue, exempting marijuana from future drug tests and getting contracts to include more guarantees. Players currently get 47 percent of league revenues and any number above that would most likely mean that the salary would make bigger jumps each season.
Although there was a lockout eight years ago, early indications are that the NFL and NFLPA might be able to avoid any kind of work stoppage this time around. The two sides started negotiations in April and have met two times over the past eight weeks with things reportedly going cordially.
According to NFL.com, there's a small chance that a deal could be in place before the 2019 season starts, although it's more likely that the two sides will negotiate a final deal at some point in 2020. Apparently, the two sides have similar views on most key issues, and as of now, there's "nothing that would make it blow up," a league source told NFL.com.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has also made it clear that he would like to see a deal done soon. Goodell was actually asked about negotiations during a brief press conference at the NFL's spring meeting last week.
"I do hope it is sooner rather than later," Goodell said of the new CBA, via the New York Times. "I think there is great value to all parties, and most importantly our fans, that we get this issue resolved and move forward."
If you're an NFL fan, that's exactly what you want to hear. The NFL hasn't had a work stoppage since the lockout in 2011, and even then, it wasn't that rough for fans. The two sides were able to resolve their issues and agree on a new CBA before the start of the 2011 season, which meant that the league didn't have to cancel any games.
The last time the NFL had to cancel games due to a work stoppage came in 1987.
If a work stoppage does happen, it wouldn't start for at least two more seasons. The current CBA runs through the end of the 2020 season, which means any potential work stoppage wouldn't take place until the 2021 season.