Some interesting tweets and reports emerged on Thursday regarding the trek toward a new NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There was a reporter from ESPN’s Dan Graziano that suggested March 18 had been set as a rough deadline for a deal to be accepted. The report, which was ultimately shared by Pro Football Talk, caught the ire of NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster.
Both parties refuted the report with strongly worded tweets:
Simply put, this report is not true. https://t.co/jNBIICZWyo
— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) February 6, 2020
NOT TRUE!!!!! NOT TRUE. This is a complicated deal and to say we are rushed to complete a deal is a lie. Whoever told you this lie, don’t trust them around your kids or in your house. https://t.co/31if5FiS1a
— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) February 6, 2020
ESPN went on to revise the report, which now says: “both sides would prefer to have a deal in place soon so that changes in the CBA structure could go into effect at the start of the new league year on March 18. You can read Graziano’s updated report in its entirety here.
Alright, so there is no hard deadline for the two sides to come to an agreement. That’s good news. Working under the stress of hard deadlines has its challenges. And since there is a CBA already in place for the 2020 season, it would be foolish to draw a line in the sand that could push both sides closer to a work stoppage. The last thing the NFL needs at the height of its popularity is a work stoppage driven by pettiness. With that being said, I believe we have a date to circle on our calendars.
March 18 marks the start of the new league year. And while there is no deadline to meet in order to come together on a CBA, I can imagine both sides of the negotiating table would like to have a rough idea of what a future salary cap is going to look like moving forward beyond this offseason. To be clear, a new salary cap is going to be in place by the start of the 2020 league year. The projected 2020 cap number is estimated to be between $196.8M and $201.2M, which will represent an increase of at least $10 million for the seventh consecutive year. That’s good for the league and its players. Even still … teams could stand to gain more cap flexibility depending on how the CBA that begins in 2021 is written. And if teams could benefit from an increased cap, players can too. For example, Bears receiver Allen Robinson is open to an extension, but admitted it would be helpful if the NFL and NFLPA ironed out a new CBA before a deal to remain in Chicago was finalized.
It is unfortunate that the NFL and NFLPA aren’t any closer to announcing a deal than they were previously, but I suppose it can be viewed as encouraging that there is an idea of when it would be preferred to get things done. So with that in mind, let’s keep an eye on what happens between now and when the new league year begins, as any agreement regarding aspects of a future CBA could have a positive impact on this upcoming free agent market.