A new CBA finally!
After a painful stretch for football fans and players alike, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has been ratified. This means that we have an official end to the lockout after 4 and a half months. There are quite a few interesting things that stand out in the new CBA, starting with the fact that there will now be blood testing for human growth hormones. This new blood testing in the NFL will mark the first major US professional sport that uses this type of testing for HGH. The even better news about the ratification of this new CBA, is the fact that all players who have signed new contracts can finally practice with their new teams. So players like Nnamdi Asomugha, and Sidney Rice, who were two of the bigger names in free agency, are finally allowed to get to work on the field.
This new CBA adds quite a few new details to it, but one detail that had a lot of questions about it was whether or not commissioner Rodger Goodell would retain all power to discipline players under the personal conduct policy. Goodell has retained all power to do this, but players will most likely still able to appeal any suspensions which are handed down to them under the drug policy. We’ll touch on a few other highlights from the new CBA below.
The question on what type of benefits was an argument that was very in-depth when it came to the new CBA, and there is finally an answer to it. Between $900 million to $1 billion will be put towards retired player benefits over the next 10 years. But even more importantly, $620 million is added to the “legacy fund”, which is a pension for players who played before the year of 1993.
Another one of the largest topics out there was the players’ health and safety. Most teams were running two-a-day practices, and far too many full contact practices for the liking of the NFL. The biggest of the concerns with this came from the offseason programs which teams were running though. The new agreement will reduce offseason programs by five weeks, and even cut OTAs from 14 per team to 10. Teams are now forced to cut down the number of full contact practices that they are running, and also have to give players more days off to rest.
There was also quite a bit of talk about the regular season going to 18 total games, but that will not be happening right away. The discussion for the 18 game season (with 2 preseason games) will be pushed back until at least the 2013 season. On top of all of this, there will also be an additional $50 million put aside annually for medical research and healthcare programs.
Rookie Pay Scale
A lot of the players (and fans), were saying that rookies were getting paid far too much money. Evidence of this was Sam Bradford’s rookie contract that was worth $76 million over six years, with an incredible $50 million guaranteed. That has all changed now, with a new rookie wage scale in place beginning for this year. Rookies now receive four year contracts, and a fifth year option which will pay them 150% of the average wage of their position. Rookie contracts are also set up now to avoid holdouts, and be much simpler overall for both sides.
The new cap is set at $120 million, with the first year of the new CBA forcing teams to spend at least 99% of that cap. The 2012-2013 season will force teams to spend 95% of the cap, and from 2013 on teams must spend at least 89% of the cap. Teams may also borrow $3 million if needed against future salary caps. The idea behind this is to set a lower cap overall, but to force teams to spend more money on signing players.
Revenue Split and Owner Revenue Sharing
These were two of the biggest discussions on the table when the lockout started. The revenue split was originally right around 50/50, but it was now negotiated to where the players were going to receive right about 47% of the revenues.
The owner revenue sharing will basically set it up so that teams who bring in a lot of revenue, will share it with teams who don’t bring in nearly as much revenue. On top of that though, it is now set up so that the higher income teams will be taxed at a higher level than the lower income teams.
This covers all of the main basics of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and it seems to benefit both sides. The NFL and the NFL Player’s Association did an excellent job covering all angles, and even helping out retirees, and low revenue teams as well. So now that the NFL lockout is officially fully over, we are only 5 weeks away from the opening kickoff of the 2011 NFL season.