“The fact of the matter is that we do have a very fair proposal on the table right now in front of the owners,” said New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees. “They have talked a lot here over the last week about how, ‘We’re going to get a deal done before the 21st, for the meetings.’ Well, now the ball’s in their court.”
Brees was in San Diego and did an interview Wednesday with radio station XX Sports Radio 1090.
The interview followed a statement released jointly by New England’s Tom Brady, Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and Brees that said: “We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done.” All three star quarterbacks are named plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit Brady v. NFL.
Sources have said the players have “reached their limits of compromise” as the idea has always been to reach a long-term agreement that is fair. As some issues, like how to divide the economic pie, have moved closer to resolution, the owners have reportedly started to retreat on other issues thinking the players would fold.
Yesterday’s public statements by some of the well-known player faces of the antitrust litigation are hopefully a reminder to the owners that the players are not going to be bullied into accepting a bad deal. Brees stated, “We felt like there [was] a fair deal on the table and we need to make sure everybody knows this and make sure the owners know this because the season is just around the corner.”
Despite the media spin that occurred after the Brees interview, his words didn’t leave us thinking anything other than the players thought their proposal was fair and were hoping the owners would wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late.
Thursday’s meetings are said to be pivotal in the parties’ ability to reach a negotiated agreement within a timeframe that will limit economic losses from missing pre-season games. According to the Washington Post, officials estimate that each week of preseason games generates about $200 million, making the preseason responsible for about $800 million in revenue.
Here’s what we think a few of the remaining open issues are:
On the revenue split, Brees said the players have already made concessions to the owners: “We’ve taken a significant setback as far as overall revenue.” It is our understanding that the percentage of the economic pie the players would receive is between 47% and 48% without deductions of certain setoffs and credits, as was the case with the previous CBA. The parties are said to have been close on the percentages for a while now although differences have arisen in how revenue is defined and certain minimum thresholds for the payment to the players. Adam Brandt reported that the players are adamant about not taking less than they received in the last year of the cap which was about $4.65 billion.
On rookie contracts, Brees indicated that the issues were heavily related to the top 15 draft picks. “If their salaries are cut, where does that money go? Our standpoint is if that money is taken away from the rookies, it needs to go to the …. proven veterans as well as retired players.” Brees suggested the savings provided to the owners be applied to improve benefits and healthcare for players past and present.
For reference, attached is a breakdown of the contracts for the top three NFL draft picks for each of the past five years.
Also, the owners are insisting on five-year deals with little negotiation or guarantees for the rookies. Reportedly, the players have countered with four-year deals with negotiation of upside and injury guarantees.
Right of First Refusal
Owners have been insisting that, as part of the transition period, teams be given the right to exercise a right of first refusal on three free agents in addition to their franchise-tag designees. The players have repeatedly and adamantly rejected this concept as it would eliminate the rights of many veteran free agents. Given the short career span of most players and the fact that owners already had that right in 2010 due to the uncapped year, this remains a big sticking point.
Team Revenue Sharing
While not on this above list, we think revenue sharing among the teams will be impactful on negotiations, and was part of the expired CBA. This is important as the NFL needs 24 of the 32 teams to approve a new CBA and individual team interests are not always aligned with the group.