NEW YORK – A vote on a settlement to the lockout is what every NFL fan wants. Nobody is sure when that might happen.
The players’ executive committee will meet today in Washington after lawyers worked through the weekend on issues that are holding up an agreement with the owners. Several people with knowledge of the meeting have told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that no vote to recommend a deal is certain today.
Owners approved a tentative agreement to end the four-month lockout on Thursday. But the players said they need more information before they can vote, and took issue with portions of the proposal. Several players only saw that full proposal late Saturday.
Should the players’ executive committee vote to accept the deal, it then would go to the 32 team representatives to approve. After that, some 1,900 players would need to vote, with a simple majority required for passage.
The 10 named plaintiffs in the players’ lawsuit against the league – including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees – must officially inform the court in Minneapolis of their approval of the pact, too.
Players also will need to vote to re-establish the NFLPA as a union; only after that happens could a full collective bargaining agreement be reached. But training camps and preseason games could occur while the sides put the finishing touches on a deal.
Only after the NFLPA is again a union can it negotiate such items as the league’s personal conduct policy and drug testing. But a person with knowledge of the executive committee meeting said it will be “to understand where things stand after this weekend’s conversations. No talk of not voting, no talk of vote.”
Team facilities would open two days after the executive committee authorizes the deal, which would be Wednesday if a vote comes today. Players then can get physicals, sign union cards, receive playbooks, and agents can negotiate or renegotiate contracts. No contracts could be signed, however, until Saturday, when camps would open.
Teams also have not negotiated with their draft picks and have not signed undrafted free agents. With regular free agency going on concurrently, it will bring some frenzied times once an agreement has been ratified by both sides.
A solution to the four-month lockout, the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987, would come too late to save the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7. It was canceled Thursday by the league. However, no other cancellations would be needed, and only a few teams would have delayed the start of training camp.
The preseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 11 with Seattle at San Diego.
The major economic framework for a 10-year deal was worked out a week ago. That included how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 – and at least that in 2012 and 2013 – plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
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