NFLPA director says strike or lockout will 'almost certainly' hit NFL in near future

It's been over six years since the NFL had to deal with a work stoppage of any sort, and unfortunately for the league, that's a streak that could be coming to an end soon, according to DeMaurice Smith. 

Smith, who serves as the executive director of the NFLPA, believes there's going to be a work stoppage after the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires following the 2020 season.

"I think the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout in [2021] is almost a virtual certainty," Smith said this week during an interview with MMQB.com

If you're an NFL fan, that's probably the last thing you want to hear from the executive director of the NFLPA. 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. This time around, Smith isn't quite sure yet if a work stoppage would lead to any canceled games, but he didn't sound optimistic. 

"I don't know. Let's look at our history," Smith said. 

The problem with negotiating a new CBA is that it sounds like the players don't really trust the owners right now.  

"The owners do a deal in 2006 and opt out in 2008. We do a deal in 2011 with no opt outs because we like the benefits under the current deal and we didn't want to give the owners an opportunity to opt out and take back the games that we currently have," Smith said. "If there was no renegotiating of the collective bargaining agreement and we reach 2021, there is no uncapped year. The last time we went through it, we found out that the owners lied and cheated about the uncapped year, so why would I do that again?"

The seeds for the 2011 lockout were planted in 2008 when the NFL's 32 owners voted to opt out of a CBA that was supposed to run through 2012. When the league opted out, that meant an early end to the 2006 CBA agreement and left the league with an uncapped salary year in 2010.

According to Smith, the owners "colluded with each other" so that the players wouldn't be able to take advantage of the uncapped year. 

"All the mutual benefits that were supposed to happened as result of the opt out didn't happen last time," Smith said. "Owners colluded with each other and we found out that they colluded with each other. All of the bad things that went to the players happened and none of the bad things that went to the owners happened. So we have a new deal that if it doesn't get fixed, you go into a certain Armageddon."

What this all means is that Smith is ready to take the NFLPA to battle with the NFL over the new CBA. The NFLPA is taking the possibility of a work stoppage so seriously that it warned players in May to start saving money

If a work stoppage does happen, it wouldn't start for at least four more seasons. The current CBA runs through the 2020 season, which means any potential work stoppage wouldn't take place until the 2021 season. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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