The NFL owners meeting that had the potential to last into Wednesday ended at just after 4 p.m. Tuesday with no vote, no imminent end to the 98-day lockout and, according to Commissioner Roger Goodell, much work to go before there is a new collective bargaining agreement.
But the signs coming out of Rosemont, Ill., were encouraging enough to prompt some to predict a resolution by mid-July. Goodell’s comments to the media, however, fell well short of that.
“We don’t have an agreement,” Goodell said. “But we have a very strong view of the priorities. There is still much work to do.”
The biggest obstacle remains the proposed split of the league’s $9 billion-and-growing revenues between its teams and its players. According to the Associated Press, the owners’ newest proposal calls for a 48 percent split of total revenues, as opposed to the 60 percent of designated monies the players received in the last CBA. The cut may decrease in coming years, but will not dip below 46.5 percent. And even if it does decrease, the total revenue aspect will ensure the players of major salary increases.
ESPN reported the players are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the progress, and the owner-player negotiations are expected to resume around the same time in Boston.
According to the report, the owners have backed off the concept of an 18-game schedule as a mandatory part of the agreement, replacing it with a 16-game Thursday night package that will generate new revenue.
The report also indicated that the players would be amenable to stretching the CBA’s length to 10 years if all terms are acceptable.
“It’s good that things are moving in the right direction,” New England owner Bob Kraft told Newsday. “We’ve got a lot of hard work to do.”
A CBA would have to be agreed on in principle by mid-July for the league to conduct a shortened free agent period and full preseason. One owner told NFL.com that though the talks remain “fragile,” he was optimistic an agreement could be reached within “a couple of weeks.”