The NFL lockout continues through the weekend, but as expected there has been enough progress to create some level of optimism heading into the coming week. My own "prediction" would be an announcement of an agreement in principle by Tuesday or Wednesday before the owners vote on Thursday. Of course, given how tricky labor negotiations can be, things could change on a dime.
Yesterday, Chris Mortensen put together a rundown of where things stand at this point before Monday and Tuesday's planned negotiations with Judge Arthur Boylan. There were some interesting concessions involved from both sides. One that will certainly disappoint Mike Singletary is the removal of padded two-a-days during training camp. It sounds like in place of previous two-a-day practices, teams will be allowed one practice and then helmetless and padless non-contact walkthrough practices on the same day. The players have been adamant about using these negotiations to improve the safety of the game and the culture of the offseasons, which include the two-a-days and also what sounds like a reduction in OTAs.
Some folks have been asking about salary cap information under the new CBA and ESPN's Andrew Brandt is hearing the cap will be $120 million as has been speculated. Additionally, there would apparently be a $3 million NBA-style exception that teams could use just this year on top of the $120 million. I'm guessing the players were open to that instead of any restrictions on free agency like the right of first refusal idea. The salary floor would be based on the $120 million though, not the $123 million total.
The other interesting aspect of the eventual deal involves stadium credits, most notably mentioning an LA stadium:
Under the proposed 10-year CBA, players would get a split ranging from 48 to 46.5 percent of a simplified all-revenue model, the sources said. The lower 46.5 percentage would represent an increase in total dollars as revenues grow from new television contracts, as well as allowing credits if three new stadiums are constructed, including one in Los Angeles, where the NFL has not had a team since the 1994 season.
I've got to think (and hope) the 49ers eventual new stadium is part of the three mentioned by Mort. I tweeted him asking about that and he indicated in a response to a similar tweet that the 49ers were in the mix. With the Vikings building a new stadium as well that would be three stadiums worth of credit without even considering the rest of the league.
Some of the "better" news if you will to come out of a possible deal is that it would likely be a ten year collective bargaining agreement. There's no word on whether either side would be able to opt out of the deal at some point. Labor deals often contain such opt-out language so it wouldn't be surprising if it was included once again.
Having such a long term CBA on the table, combined with hopefully developing a healthy long-term relationship between the owners and players could provide a much needed jump for the NFL to start getting a little more creative in its operations. If you look at Major League Baseball, the working relationship between the owners and players has grown from the most toxic in sports to arguably the best. In developing this improved relationship, their current labor talks are centering on things like expanding the playoffs as opposed to divvying up revenues.
When you can focus on the more extraneous new ideas rather than the same ol' revenue complaints, things are moving in the right direction. For the NFL, I think that would mean renewing discussions about things like the 18-game season. That initially appeared like it would be a problem issue for these negotiations. Instead the owners dropped their demands on the 18-game season fairly quickly. Their willingness to not push it now could open the door for discussions on the issue over the next couple years under the auspices of a much better relationship.