Packers President Mark Murphy painted a picture of compromise. He spoke of wins for the players and wins for the league’s ownership. The combination of the two will spell victory for the game and its fans, if the NFL’s players ratify the collective bargaining agreement the league’s owners approved on Thursday.
“In terms of the Packers, I’m really pleased. It’s great for the Packers. It’s great to have labor peace and be able to move forward. To not miss any training camp or preseason or regular-season games is tremendous. We’re hopeful the players will ratify the agreement and we can get started,” Murphy told reporters via conference call on Thursday evening.
Media speculation was that player approval could happen as quickly as Thursday night. Murphy was more conservative in his timeline.
“We hope the process of recertifying and ratification will take place over the next couple of days,” he said. “I would be surprised if they didn’t ratify.”
The agreement would be for 10 years. It provides for a total football revenue (TFR) model for distributing money to the players, but a “three-bucket” system, according to Murphy, addresses the owners’ priority concern for addressing costs.
Players will share in all revenue, but revenues are divided into three groups, or buckets, and the degrees at which revenue is shared in each bucket varies.
“The first bucket is national media and that includes primarily national TV. That’s the highest margin; we have the least expense generating revenue from national TV. The second bucket is NFL ventures, such as NFL Network. The last bucket is local revenue, and that’s where the teams have the most significant cost and the players get the least amount of that revenue,” Murphy said.
Score one for the owners.
An 18-game season? Not until the players agree to it and that’s not in the foreseeable future.
Score one for the players.
“There was so much resistance from the players that we backed off it at a certain point. For us to move to 18 games, we would have to have player approval. One of the real wins for (DeMaurice Smith) was that he was able to stay at 16 games and also get pretty significant reductions in offseason practices and contact in practices,” Murphy said.
“No two-a-days in pads. Coaches are going to be disappointed, but that was an important issue for the players, so we were willing to make those compromises.”
Score one more for the players.
The league, meanwhile, won a significant victory in getting an agreement on a rookie wage scale system.
“We really wanted a true rookie wage scale. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we believe the rookie system will be much better than what we’ve had in the past; the reduction in pay will be as much as 30-40 percent for high picks,” Murphy said. “There’s less money allocated for the first round. The other thing we’ve done is made it more difficult for agents to steal money from rounds 2-7 and give it to first-rounders.”
Under the rookie wage scale provisions, all drafted players receive four-year contracts. Teams will hold an option to extend the contracts of first-round picks a fifth year, based on agreed-upon tender amounts. Undrafted free agents will receive three-year contracts, which would allow teams to continue to use restricted free agent (RFA) tenders to retain the rights to those players for one more year.
A salary cap system? Yeah, it’s back in place, with a few minor modifications for how money is calculated.
Call that a win for both sides.
“The salary cap, the mechanics of it, will work the same way. One of the really good things about this agreement is we continue to have a hard salary cap. It’s very good for the Packers, as well,” Murphy said.
A revenue-sharing system that was instituted as part of the 2006 CBA will be continued. The Packers, however, have been a payor, not a payee, for all of the years in that revenue-sharing system and that wouldn’t change this year.
“Our view is we want to do right for the league and what’s best for the league is having a solid revenue-sharing system and that all teams in the league have a chance to compete and win a Super Bowl,” Murphy said.
The inclusion of a revenue-sharing system is thought to have helped the league sell the CBA to its low-revenue members.
“We are pleased to announce that our clubs have approved the terms of a long-term negotiated agreement with the NFL players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It includes many positive changes that emerged from a spirit of compromise rooted in doing what is best for the game and players. DeMaurice Smith and his team, and the players and owners involved in the negotiations, deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism. If approved by the players, this agreement will allow the league and its players to continue to benefit from the NFL’s popularity and will afford a unique opportunity to deliver to fans an even better, safer and more competitive game in the future.”
The league announced that players may begin voluntary workouts at club facilities as early as Saturday, provided the players ratify the proposed CBA. The league year and free agency would begin at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 27, and training camps for all teams would also open on July 27. First-day activities would be limited to physical exams, meetings and conditioning. Players would practice without wearing pads on days two and three.
“It’s been a long process, going back a couple of years. It’s been a busy time for everybody, especially for our bargaining committee. We’re really pleased where we are. Everybody felt it was time to make a deal and time to get back to football. It’s a good deal for both sides. There’s a lot of compromise for both sides,” Murphy said.