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Since the beginning of last season, we began hearing rumors of an NFL lock out due to player compensation and ownership revenue sharing. In the month of March of 2011, the owners locked out the players and NFLPA was dismantled. We began reading about veteran players suing the NFL individually, rookies were being drafted with a “Thank you, we hope you will play for us this year pending the CBA”, and free agents were not even sure they would have a job come September. Really, it was a lot of drama and at the end of it all, a new agreement have approved by both sides (Owners & Players) for the next 10 years without an opt-out clause in place so we call be ensured that we do not go through this again until Spring of 2021. Great, just in time for another NFL season right? But why did this new CBA really last almost 5 months to obtain an agreement on? What changed since the last one? How do these delays impact the 2011 NFL Season? I thought I would take the time to do my own research to understand a little better the new agreement (Hey, it’s the month of August…I would rather do this than watch a pre-season game!!)

Let’s get started with why it took so long: Money. Money makes and breaks this league and of course money was a major factor for these past five months. The NFL is the only sport of the big four (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) where the players contracts are not guaranteed. Of course If I am an owner, why would I want to pay an injured player to sit on the bench the entire season? The players have a point here as well, I am getting injured on the job, can’t do anything about that so my money should be there at the end of the day. They both have a point, so the compromise here is: we will compensate veterans in the long run but a rookie will have to prove they are worth the money. This is a CBA positive because we have seen busts following the drafts (Ryan Leaf, J Russell, and the list goes on). Also from the list of  different articles I read during this lengthy process, I believe this probably took the most time and at the end of it all, both owners and players came out winners here.

Now, let’s discuss the major changes this new CBA bring along. I don’t want to re-write what many have already spoke and broke down so I am going to refer to the content written by Kareem Copeland from PackersNews.com and his conversation with Andrew Brandt, Packers former vice president of player finance/general counsel.

“Front office: there will be simpler and more manageable rookie contract negotiation.  Also, with the “guaranteed spend” and cash and Cap minimums, the system will reward teams that effectively manage their costs on a “pay as you go” model, rather than spikes. ”

“Coaches:  They will see their players far less in the offseason and have them padded less in the preseason.  Teaching will be rewarded.”

“Players:  They will theoretically be fresher for the season due to all the reduced time and contact.  Less cash and cap will go to top rookies, theoretically more to veterans.  And with a cash minimum calculated at the end of the year, there will be more renegotiation late in the season.”

In the end, the owners received a little more money than was distributed in the old CBA and the players received increased health concessions.The Owners achieved a better revenue split, going from what was a net 50/50 to 52/48 and perhaps better in some years.  The Players have reduced time and contact and teams will be forced to spend more with the new minimums.

So who are the winners of this new CBA? I think everyone came out a winner here, the owners do get a better revenue split but the veterans will be getting better contracts, more guaranteed money in the long run,  and better health benefits. The rookies from this year lost out on the big pay check on their first contracts, but this has been talked about for so long, it was time to make this more fair.

Now the delay of signing of the CBA will most likely also hurt the rookies the most since they don’t the usual 3 plus months to study their playbook and get in sync with their teams so most of them might not start until later in the season while other might have to wait until next season. If you were a veteran player, hope you continued off-season workouts on your own, otherwise injuries will be a major impact factor for this 2011 NFL season.

The biggest winner? The fans….football is back!

Sinan

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