The collective bargaining agreement consented to by the NFL and NFLPA back in 2011 does not expire until 2021. Three full years away from that date, the NFLPA is gearing up for a protracted fight. At Thursday's media session at the Super Bowl, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was asked about the upcoming negotiations. This is how he responded: 

This should probably not be a surprise. The players are widely considered to have been dominated in the last CBA negotiations, and there are a number of issues they likely consider of the utmost importance in the next round. That's why the NFLPA has been telling players since at least last May that they should start saving money in preparation for a lockout. 

"We wound up in a situation where unfortunately [savings] didn't happen across the league as much as it could have happened," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah recently told SiriusXM NFL Radio. 

"Money management is probably the No. 1 thing that we have tried to impress upon players over the last couple of years," Atallah said. "We need players of every generation to really help the young guys understand what it takes to go through some labor strife. For the players who went through it in 2011, the union administration and player leadership did everything it could to prepare players across the league. I think it needs to happen again with the same sort of fervor."

Atallah said at the time that while the composition of the NFLPA will change between now and then and so will the issues that are important to the membership, the players will not be able to gain any concessions unless they show the owners that they are able to last longer than the four months they did last time around. 

With the NFLPA likely to insist on stripping commissioner Roger Goodell of his judge and jury powers under the personal conduct policy and the owners unlikely to give any ground on that issue, we could be in for a longer fight. And that's before we get to any other issues that might be important to either side. That's why Smith is talking so tough three years in advance.