Shortly after a 24-hour extension was passed to push back the deadline to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the NFL and the players’ union agreed today to extend the same deadline by seven days, in hopes that owners and players can work out their differences and avoid a lockout.
On the heels of a statement made by Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth, who said to media that both sides are still “miles apart,” WR Anquan Boldin told a much different story to The Baltimore Sun.
“We only want to make the game better. I’m convinced something will get done. I don’t think we’ll miss any time.”
How could two players on the same team have polar opposite views on the same issue, CBA negotiations? There’s no doubt statements made by Foxworth and Boldin are sending mixed signals to all of NFL Nation, making fans wonder how close owners and players really are to striking a deal.
In order to gain better insight on the current situation, we need to examine what’s at stake.
Money is the biggest factor behind the new CBA negotiations. Owners and players are trying to find common ground when it comes to divvying-up the $9 billion piece of pie the NFL generates every year. Both sides want a bigger slice of the pie, which is no surprise, but representatives from both sides say little progress is being made in narrowing the financial gap—a reported $25 million per team, which equates to $800 million for the entire league.
If the above is true, Foxworth is correct to say both sides have a long way to go before an agreement is reached.
In addition to disagreements on how to divide revenues, the issue of an 18-game season that owners are in favor of must be ironed out before any agreement is reached. It’s safe to say most players are staunchly opposed to such an idea, claiming a longer season will result in more fatigue and injuries to athletes. That may be true, but eliminating preseason contests or adding another bye week to the regular season might solve that problem and allow both sides to reach a conclusion on this issue.
The issues mentioned above are only two of the larger obstacles that must be cleared before there’s any talk of proceeding with an NFL season this year. If owners and players keep implementing extensions in order to reach an agreement and prevent a lockout, there’s a good chance we will see a full season of football in 2011, even if the actual start date for the regular season is pushed back by a few weeks.
“The NFL is the greatest sport in America right now,” Boldin said. This statement alone yields some hope that players should be willing to sacrifice a little in these negotiations in order to proceed with a full NFL season this year. Moreover, if history is indicative of anything, we should see a deal relatively soon.
It’s noteworthy to mention that the Baltimore Ravens applied temporary restrictions to several free agents in order to avoid losing their stake in the current free agent players.
These tenders were assigned to Marshal Yanda, Jared Gaither, Le’Ron McClain and Dawan Landry. However, these players will move from restricted to unrestricted status once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. The same goes for most fifth and sixth-year players on the Ravens roster who remain unrestricted free agents.
Exceptions to the rule include punter Sam Koch and kicker Billy Cundiff. Both kickers were signed to five-year deals back in February. DT Haloti Ngata received the franchise tag, a reported $12.5 million for the 2011 season, so there’s no danger of losing Ngata.
As for FB Le’Ron McClain, he will almost certainly find another home just in time for the regular season, even though he remains in restricted free agent status for now. McClain is demanding top fullback money, and the Ravens don’t have it.
Let’s hope Boldin is correct in his assessment of the current CBA talks. It’s hard to imagine an entire year without professional football.
Todd McGregor is a Baltimore Ravens Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
Follow Todd's work on Twitter! Twitter.com/ravens023