NFL: CBA Issues Affect Free Agency, the Draft and Beyond

Corey WieseContributor IIJanuary 30, 2011

DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell, Kevin Mawae
DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell, Kevin Mawae

For those who don’t know, the team owners and the Players Union are responsible for reaching an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

On March 5, 2011, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire.  Unless a further extension of the CBA can be reached by that date, the new league year can’t begin—which spells bad news for teams, players and fans. 

Though it would still give the two sides time to reach an agreement at a later date, it would affect the entire offseason schedule dramatically.  It would also lockout the players, not allowing players to workout at their team facilities or participate in Organized Team Activities (OTAs)—which would affect incoming free agents and rookies the most.

If an agreement isn’t eventually reached, it could mean a fewer games played in the 2011 season or that the entire schedule would be pushed back (unlikely).  

For any die-hard football fan, the start of the new league year signifies the start of free agency (FA)—the time when our favorite teams can begin to trade players, sign unrestricted free agents and build toward a better team next season. 

Even if a new CBA isn’t reached before the National Football League draft date of April 28, 2011, the draft will still be held.  

So much of free agency is acquiring draft picks in the upcoming draft.  If free agency hasn’t begun by draft day, teams will not be able to trade players for draft picks.  I believe that teams will still be able to trade picks for picks.

During a normal offseason, a team would have the benefit of going into draft day with new FA signings already in the fold and would know that they had certain holes already filled with proven veterans. 

The big issue is that if there is no free agency, the only means teams will have to improve will be directly through the draft, which will dramatically impact how teams draft.

The only consolation if a new CBA isn’t reached before draft day is that a team which completely drops the ball and misses key prospects in the draft can make up for it with big-splash signings when free agency does begin. Teams would no longer have the draft to fall back on when they shy away from big-dollar free agents.  

This could make for a much more aggressive free agency period.  It could provide a unique experience for both teams and fans. But the uncertainty of the entire CBA issue makes for a very unhappy time for fans.

To any die-hard football fan, waiting for free agency is like waiting for Christmas.  Except this year, with the CBA expiring, there is no guarantee Christmas will fall on December 25 (March 5).  Until Santa can reach a new deal with his elves, Christmas will continue to get pushed back, which means no FA signings under our favorite team’s tree.

It is time to get it in gear. It’s time that everybody stop talking about what might happen if things don't get solved, and actually do something. 

Roger Goodell, the owners, National Football League Players Association president Kevin Mawae and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, need to lock themselves in the room and get the deal done.  It makes me wonder if these people are having only little five-minute meetings over coffee.

I don't care if they have to meet for 10 hours straight. If they would meet for three to five hours every day, this problem would have been solved long ago.  They need to stop talking about doing something and just do it.  Everybody needs to make a little compromise and call it good.

The NFL is seriously risking the on-field product next season.  If teams don't have sufficient offseason time to prepare for the season, it could make for very sloppy football, especially on teams who have entirely new coaching staffs and systems.

The NFL needs to forget about the potential 18-game schedule for now.  Why add extra problems to an already difficult discussion?  If free agency is delayed even a day, it is a total failure by everyone involved.