Barring a miracle, an NFL lockout will be imposed as the current collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
The NFL and NFLPA remain miles apart in three key areas, 1. How to split the $9 billion dollars in revenue; 2. rookie wage scale, and 3. 18 game league schedule. Retirement benefits is also a key area of struggle between the two sides.
Two agents with knowledge of talks I’ve spoken to in the past 24 hours tell me that the NFLPA has made what is described as “serious concessions”, most notably on two of the three key areas, the 18 game league schedule and the rookie wage scale.
However, both agents told me the concessions the NFLPA have made will likely be off the table if an “extensions in talks” is not reached today.
The league is destined to lockout the players and there’s no way a deal could be reached today but I’m told the hope from the players association is for the league to agree to an extension in talks. Whether that can happen is expected to be known in a few hours.
If there’s no movement towards an extension, the NFLPA will decertify today which could block the NFL from locking out the players due to labor laws. If it doesn’t do it today, the NFLPA can’t decertify for another 6 months and the NFLPA has to have all of the paper work in by the end of the business day.
The NFLPA see’s decertifying as important because it goes to the courts and becomes a real legal option for the players as they can file individual lawsuits.
An added dividend for the NFLPA is that a federal judge blocked the owners from receiving $4 billion in TV money during the lockout, which is money the owners were banking on . But, the owners are said to have been prepared to lockout the players for up to 2 years and this wasn’t a big blow to them.
The ruiling though was seen as a shift in talks to some extent but whether it’s enough to get an extension in talks between the two sides remains to be seen. That’s the only hope at this point.
Those around the league are predicting the lockout to go well into the summer. One agent predicted to me that an agreement won’t be reached until mid-to-late August and that free agency will be wiped out with impending free agents being forced to return to their 2010 teams.