Team facilities to open Tuesday, pending vote by players
NFL.com Wire Reports
Published: July 25, 2011 at 06:51 a.m. Updated: July 25, 2011 at 07:29 a.m.
Negotiators for the NFL Players Association and the league finally came to an agreement on the terms of a new labor deal in the wee hours of Monday morning.
Sources involved in the talks told NFL Network and FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer that an agreement had been reached. The league's 32 player representatives and then all of its players still must vote to approve it, but at this point it appears a formality.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King said player reps have scheduled a conference call for 11 a.m. ET Monday.
According to Glazer's sources, under the new terms, team facilities will open as early as Tuesday and training camps will begin Thursday for 10 teams, Friday for another 10 and over the weekend for the remaining 12 teams.
Barring any unforeseen complications, players will begin arriving at team facilities Tuesday to vote to recertify the NFLPA as a union. Once the players reach a majority, the sides can negotiate terms for the league’s drug programs, player discipline fines, workers comp, and other issues.
Still unclear is the timeline for free agency. During the lockout, which began on March 12, teams have not negotiated with their draft picks and have not signed undrafted free agents. That is expected to produce an unprecedented period of frenzy once an agreement has been ratified by both sides.
Earlier Sunday, it was learned that the league no longer needed to worry about placating the named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit. Requests for concessions for numerous players -- including but not limited to San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson and New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins -- loomed earlier in the week. But Jackson and Mankins dropped their demands for $10 million to settle the suit against the league, leaving fewer obstacles to a new collective bargaining agreement that would end the lockout, which started March 12.
Owners approved their proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement at their meeting Thursday in Atlanta by a vote of 31-0 (the Oakland Raiders abstained). Owners wanted the NFLPA's 13-member executive committee to vote on that agreement Friday, but the players said they need more information, and took issue with portions of the proposal. That led to a long but productive weekend, with the committee meeting in Washington, D.C., to hash out the deal on their end.
The major economic framework for the 10-year deal was worked out a week ago. That included how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 -- and at least that in 2012 and 2013 -- plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
A solution to the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987 would come too late to save the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7. It was canceled last Thursday by the league.
However, no other cancellations would be needed if things are settled this week. The preseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 11 with Seattle at San Diego. Super Bowl champion Green Bay is set to host New Orleans in the regular-season kickoff on Sept. 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.