- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Five thoughts on NFL labor relations following the Players Association's move to decertify:
The NFL's lead negotiator, Jeff Pash, said the league offered a "comprehensive, new revised proposal." The league did seem to be scrambling at the last minute to get a deal done. The players shrugged. Both sides had to realize the players held the bigger hammer in this initial fight. The players felt more comfortable taking this to the courts.
The players' hammer gets smaller heading into a season. The owners could hold more leverage once September rolls around and players miss paychecks. That is when the players would have a tougher time keeping solidarity.
The league scored public relations points Friday when Pash went public with the NFL's offer. I would expect the league to continue hitting similar themes publicly. The NFLPA responded with its own point-by-point breakdown. Longer term, it'll be tougher for the players to compete with the league to control the message.
What would happen if the owners decided against a lockout? As John Clayton notes, they could, in theory, impose new rules governing free agency, but they would risk incurring treble damages if found in antitrust. That looks like a strong deterrent.
These labor battles are best viewed from high overhead than from on the ground. Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm understood this when putting together his piece suggesting decertification isn't necessarily an impediment to an agreement. Friday is being cast as a dark day in the NFL, but it's only March.
What happens next? Not even NFL teams know for sure, but all signs point to a lockout.