NFLPA discussing new CBA, will vote
A vote by the NFL Players Association on a proposed deal that would include a new collective bargaining agreement and settlement of all legal issues in the NFL lockout will take place Wednesday, an NFLPA source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The NFLPA is debriefing both the lead and alternate player representatives from each team on the proposed new collective bargaining agreement. The lead reps for each team are in Washington at NFLPA headquarters. Those representatives not there are taking part in a conference call.
The NFL's Management Council Executive Committee, meanwhile, began meeting at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday at an Atlanta airport hotel, an NFL spokesman said. Items on the agenda include discussion of the still-unfinished CBA, transition rules and a calendar for the start of the 2011 season, a source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a member of the 10-person committee, was absent due to the death of his wife, Myra, and was not being replaced at this time.
There are three additional provisions added to the new CBA being discussed that have been agreed upon by both sides, a league source told ESPN's Paolantonio.
• Enhanced injury protection benefit -- In addition to a player's salary in the season he is injured, the player would get up to $1 million for the first year after the injury, and up to $500,000 the second year.
• Players get to stay in the league-sponsored player medical plan for life, if they so choose.
• An annual increase in minimum salaries for players -- 10 percent increase for rookies, 12 percent for second-year players ... and it continues throughout the life of the proposed 10-year CBA. That would mean a 10 percent increase in rookie salary for 2011 over the 2010 salary and then a 10 percent increase for rookies in 2012 salary over 2011 salary. Approximately 1,000 of the 1,890 NFL players in 2010 were minimum-salary players, according to the league.
Earlier Wednesday, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said that the players won't be pressured into agreeing to a deal.
"We're not tied to a timeline of July 21 (when the owners are scheduled to meet in Atlanta). Our timeline is to get a deal that's best for the players -- today, tomorrow or whatever it might be," Mawae said.
One thing that shouldn't hold up a possible deal is special considerations to the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. The NFLPA decided the best course of action was to forgo special compensation for those 10 players as part of a settlement, sources confirmed to Schefter.
Mawae referenced this in his comments to reporters Wednesday.
"The deal we're working on is the one that's best for all the players in the NFL and not just four guys," he said.
It will take a majority vote of the players to ratify the deal. The owners would vote on the proposed CBA on Thursday if the players OK the deal Wednesday. Twenty-four of the 32 owners must cast "yes" votes for the CBA to be ratified.
The NFLPA's decision to not recommend special considerations for the named plaintiffs was first reported by the Boston Herald.
As named plaintiffs in the antitrust suit against the NFL, players including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson would be entitled to compensation as part of any settlement.
Jackson's agents had requested that the receiver become either an unrestricted free agent or receive $10 million when the lockout ended as part of a settlement. Yahoo! Sports first reported Jackson's demands, which were confirmed to ESPN's Schefter by a league source.
The Boston Globe said that both Manning and Brees were seeking to avoid the use of a franchise tag, which would make Manning an unrestricted free agent, and give Brees the same status after the 2011 season.
Manning, Jackson and Mankins all received franchise tags before the NFL locked out its players in March.
Brees denied the reports on his Twitter account Tuesday night.
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"I hesitate to even dignify the false media reports with a response, but obviously they are leading people astray," Brees wrote. The former Super Bowl MVP continued with a pair of posts an hour later.
"I want no special perks. My job is to get a fair deal for all players, and I am proud to represent them all - past, present and future," Brees wrote. "All media claims about me wanting a personal reward for this deal are false. I hope you all know me better than that."
Tom Condon, the agent for both Brees and Manning, told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Tuesday the quarterbacks asked him to reiterate their support for all players and the NFLPA's negotiating team.
"They haven't asked for anything individually and continue to be 100 percent behind the players' efforts to resolve the negotiations," Condon told Mortensen.
Jackson took to Twitter as well Tuesday night, also claiming he had made no demands.
"Preciate the support guys! Can't believe all u read or see in media" Jackson wrote. "I have made no demands, I wanna play ball like the rest of my peers!"
The plaintiffs' reported demands were met with criticism, including by an NFL player.
"Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. 'Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being 'that guy'. #d-----bags," he wrote.
With attorneys aiming to produce a finished document in time for votes on Wednesday and Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith talked late into the night Tuesday to bring the sides closer to an agreement after a frustrating day of discussions among the players' executive committee in Washington, sources told ESPN's Mortensen.
The executive committee met for more than 10 hours Tuesday before breaking up for the night, and player sources say there was a level of frustration at the slow pace of negotiations as an expected vote on a new agreement nears.
The NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams Monday instructing key executives to attend Thursday's owners meeting in Atlanta, sources told ESPN's Schefter. Each team will have two representatives (the owner and one executive) in the room to vote on a CBA, if one is agreed to by players and owners. However, each team also will bring other front-office personnel to learn about the rules of a potential new CBA.
If the owners ratify a new CBA Thursday, players can begin arriving at facilities Friday and team activities can begin as early as Monday.
However, even if the lockout is lifted this week and players return to work, the start of training camp will be delayed for some teams, namely the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, sources from both sides told ESPN's Schefter Tuesday.
The Bears were scheduled to be the first team to report to camp Friday, with the Rams following on Saturday. Now, one source said, the soonest those teams will be in camp is Tuesday. The teams are slated to face off in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, but the status of that is uncertain.
Aug. 1 is considered the most likely start time for training camp if a deal is done later this week, a source told Schefter. Another source said that camp would be delayed "four to five days after the start of full free agency," which could take place Monday or July 28.
Last season, most teams opened camp between July 28 and Aug. 1, but official dates for 2011 had not been submitted to the NFL Management Council as teams waited for the lockout to be lifted.
Meanwhile, Super Bowl organizers will likely cancel a second weekend of bookings if the new CBA is agreed to in time.
Indianapolis host committee chairman Mark Miles said Wednesday he anticipates telling hoteliers soon after the two sides ratify a deal to end the four-month lockout. Miles made his comments about one hour before player representatives left the headquarters of the former NFL Players Association on Wednesday.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio and ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.
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