Owners Vote To End CBA Early

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The owners today made official what everyone assumed was going to happen.  After a vote, all 32 owners agreed to opt out of the current CBA early, possibly changing the face of the NFL in the process.

NFLPA President Gene Upshaw has threatened that should the owners opt out, the NFLPA will never agree to another salary cap.  However, some owners believe that a salary cap is more of hindrance to the league than a tool to maintain a competitive balance.  While most feel that teams such as the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins, with high spending owners would immediately benefit from no cap, teams such as the Buffalo Bills would also benefit as well.

Currently all teams must spend around 80 percent of the salary cap.  With no cap, teams would be able to spend whatever amount they wanted, a practice some believe could lead to collusion between owners that becomes a gentleman’s agreement not to overspend on players.

While some owners say that will not happen, it is clear that no teams will overpay outrageously for the services of players.  While the top tiered free agents would still make a hefty payout, the 2nd tier and 3rd tier guys may be on the outs looking in when it comes to that pot of money.  Case in point the recent signings of offensive guards in the 49 million dollar range for players who have yet to sniff the Pro-Bowl or in some cases a full season as a starter.

So while the CBA now ends in 2011 instead of 2012, the real changes begin to occur next off-season during free agency when the cap hits escalate into that year due to a now scheduled 2010 uncapped season.  While salaries themselves will not escalate to 2009, bonus money will as well as guaranteed money spread out over the course of the contract.  Teams such as the Jets and Raiders who spent millions this off-season with spread spending, could take the worst of the hits come next season.

The owners have been feeling a tad fleeced with the latest CBA so the out is no surprise to anyone.  Desperate to get a deal in place during the final months of former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue reign, the owners took the hit.  Now they regret it and are looking for a better deal.

One issue sure to make an appearance in the next round of CBA negotiations is going to be the rookie pool.  The owners would all rather pay that money to veterans rather than risk it on unproven talent.  Look for that to be a huge part of any future discussions between the NFLPA and the owners.

While the rookie pool and what most owners hope to be capped money slotting will be one bet in talks, the owners will also look into shared profits among themselves.  Teams like Buffalo and owner Ralph Wilson voted against the current CBA so in Wilson’s’ case he at least has won a small battle.

While it still remains to be seen what will happen in the future or the near future, the certainty is that minus a labor agreement, 2010 is uncapped, 2009 will see quite a few teams hurting for cap space, and in 2011 a work stoppage could take place.

While the owners say they will not take to using a lock-out to get a new agreement, it is safe to say “never say never”.  Gene Upshaw has been the President of the NFLPA for a very long time, and with recent attempts to unseat him, the NFLPA team reps, could use this as an opportunity to replace Upshaw with someone more interested in the game itself rather than himself.

 

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