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Player reps convene in D.C. to work through labor details
By Albert Breer NFL Network
July 19, 2011
Legal teams and staff for the owners and players continued their meetings on Tuesday, hammering out details and language on a new agreement while also working through litigation settlement proceedings.
They also had a few new guests, with the retired player group that's part of the consolidated Brady & Eller et al v. the National Football League et al case in attendance. Attorney Michael Hausfeld led a group that included former Minnesota Viking Carl Eller and ex-Buffalo Bill Joe DeLamielleure.
"We were left out," Eller told NFL Network on his way in. "But it's good to be back. ... It's our position to be here. That's why we're here."
La Canfora: CBA issues remain.
According to sources, between $900 million and $1 billion in improvements to benefits have been negotiated for retirees. Of that, $620 million is expected to go into the Legacy Fund, which will benefit the pre-1993 retirees. And the players and owners also solved the issue of how to fund that, with the club-to-cap breakdown being approximately 50-50, with teams taking on a bit more financial responsibility.
Presented with those terms, DeLamielleure said, "We've been to this show before. So we'll see."
Meanwhile, the other set of plaintiffs in Brady & Eller v. the NFL made some noise of their own.
According to a league source, one proposed settlement term has quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints being immune from the franchise tag for the rest of their careers. That would make Manning an unrestricted free agent when the league opens for business, presumably soon.
Also, New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins and San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson have asked for $10 million or to be set loose as free agents, as terms to agree to a litigation settlement. Yahoo! Sports first reported the demand by both players' respective agents.
Mankins and Jackson are under the franchise tag now, and each fell in the category last year of players who would have been unrestricted free agents in the pre-2010 system, but were restricted under the uncapped year rules.
Both players also had their tenders cut by their teams and held out deep into the season, with Mankins making about $816,000 in 2010 and Jackson bringing home just $583,000.
Meanwhile, members of the NFL Player Association's executive committee arrived at the trade association's headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, hoping to work through the latest round of settlement talks, NFL.com's Steve Wyche reported.
The mission is to "push through" to reach a deal now that the finish line is visible, a trade association source told Wyche. There were no certain time elements on how soon things could come together because settlement talks remain fluid, the source said.
"The grass is cut, but the hay is not in the barn yet. We've got a lot of work to do," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
The meeting of the executive committee, which includes Brees, is a precursor to Wednesday's important meeting with representatives from all 32 teams.
Owners are then set to hold a special meeting in Atlanta on Thursday, when they could ratify a new deal -- if there is one by then. Executives from all 32 teams then would be briefed there Thursday and Friday on how the terms would affect league business. Clubs were told Monday that topics would include the 2011 NFL calendar, rookie salary system and guidelines for player transactions.
The team representatives can vote to recommend passage of the settlement to players, who would vote to pass or reject the proposal. A majority vote is needed and it is expected players would vote on the side of the team representatives' recommendation.
A vote by the players on a new deal could happen as soon as Wednesday evening, although that could be optimistic, a source told Wyche.
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said the players have been whoring very hard and will continue to do so until a deal is done.
"We've got trust the process and make sure we get this right," Atallah said.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith spoke to each other on the telephone Monday and planned to stay in regular contact.
"Nobody cheers for you at Mile 25 of a marathon. You still have to cross the finish line," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said Monday in Washington. "There still are things that can get you tripped up, and we're going to push through."
In addition to the Brady class settlement, is the pending TV networks case, in which players accused owners of setting up $4 billion in "lockout insurance."
Emerging as the primary issue has been the players' pursuit of $320 million in lost benefits that resulted from the 2010 uncapped year rules, sources said. The league's contention is that the players negotiated that money away in the 2006 collective bargaining agreement.
Owners locked out players on March 12, when the old collective bargaining agreement expired, leaving the country's most popular professional sports league in limbo. The sides are trying to forge a settlement in time to keep the preseason completely intact. The exhibition opener is supposed to be the Hall of Fame game between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears on Aug. 7.
The regular-season opener is scheduled for Sept. 8, when the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers are to play host to the New Orleans Saints.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tweeted Monday: "Sound like we gonna be back to work so soon!!!"
During lengthy negotiations last week, players and owners came up with the framework of a CBA that addresses most of their differences.
Areas they've figured out include:
» How the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided, with somewhere from 46.5 to 48.5 percent going to players, depending on how much the total take from TV contracts and other sources rises or falls;
» A structure for rookie contracts that will rein in soaring salaries for high first-round draft picks;
» Free agency rules that allow most four-year veterans to negotiate with any team;
» A cap of about $120 million per team for player salaries in 2011, with about another $20 million per team in benefits;
» Each team must spend at least 90 percent of the salary cap in cash each season, a higher figure than in the past.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
NFL.com's Steve Wyche contributed to this report.
"...and a great new warrior emerged from the many, to carry the torch, and his name was Rammin' Jackson...and a new era had begun! Bring on the battles to come, he screamed!"
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Re: Player reps convene in D.C. to work through labor details
"NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said the players have been whoring very hard and will continue to do so until a deal is done."
Whoring ?!! Seriously, that has to be one of the greatest typos in sports history.
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