By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
It’s something that almost every football fan I’ve talked to agreed on. There was a very good chance that there wouldn’t be football played in 2021. The Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season, and it looked like the two sides were gearing up for a long fight. However, signs this week are positive, with both sides playing nice.
The NFL and NFLPA started talking this week, and according to NFL.com reporter, Ian Rapoport, the negotiations started out quite well. He reported that things were “amicable and cordial”, but it’s still early.
From Up to the Minute Live: It’s early, but CBA talks are going well. More ?? pic.twitter.com/VbPcCxpeJH
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 22, 2019
Some of the biggest issues that will need to be hammered out over the next few seasons could be franchise tag usage, rookie pay scales, substance abuse policy revisions, the power Rodger Goodell has on disciplinary issues, and other legal matters like modifying spending minimums. However, it has become pretty obvious that it will be guaranteed money that will get most of the focus.
According to an article by Associated Press back in January, Union President Eric Winston agreed that guaranteed contracts will be the major focus in these talks. “You can’t look at it in a vacuum, because all these contracts are different. But if a guy gets 30 percent guaranteed and we can push that to 50, or a guy gets 60 and we can push it to 80, we should try to do that. It should be on the minds of everybody.”
While we assume the conversations surrounding contracts could get acrimonious, one thing that could help cushion these talks is the fact the league is making a lot of money. Ridiculous amounts of money. The cap has risen double-digit millions for the last six seasons, and with media deals soaring, there is plenty of money to go around. As money usually greases the corporate wheels, it will help that at least some of the policies put into place during the last CBA worked.
So can we be less worried about a hold out in 2021? Maybe. Yet we shouldn’t get our hopes up yet. Initial talks aren’t about the serious issues, and are probably about things they can both agree on. But when it gets to the more difficult subjects, things will get more contentious. All fans can hope is that it takes less than two seasons to work through it.