I have a few ideas for the new CBA and season length, rookie contracts and assorted other NFL issues that I want to share.
First, we already know the owners voted to void the old CBA and that is the reason why 2010 is an uncapped year, and why 4 and 5 year veterans are restricted free agents this year instead of being unrestricted free agents. We have also heard that failing to agree on a new one by next year will likely result in a lockout of the players (and thus no football next year). To continue that out, in 2012 there wouldn’t be a draft and basically all the goodwill and revenue the league has enjoyed will be very difficult to get back, if it ever can be. Both sides have reasons to actually agree to a new CBA, but both sides are still currently far far apart. A little bit about these issues was printed about 4 months ago or so, if you wish to read up on it visit http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d815dc70b&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true
Second, the old CBA should you wish to acquire a copy of it can be downloaded at http://www.nflplayers.com/About-us/CBA-Download/
Third, the old CBA has a few quirks, a few things one side or the other didn’t like, a few things the press and the fans didn’t like, and it’s entirely likely the new will as well. It isn’t possible to satisfy everyone, and negotiations will eventually make it something that neither side loves but both can at least live with. Since the old CBA was a part of the greatest expansion of the NFL in both money and prestige, I suggest the old CBA should be tweaked just a little rather then starting over from scratch. In fact, they could pass the whole thing with these changes and both sides could probably live with it and still keep the option to complain.
1. The players currently share 60% of the income. The owners are complaining that this level is not maintainable due to increased costs and economic downturns. I suggest the league find ways to increase revenues and players see more spent on vets and less on rookies (more on this later) but I can appreciate that 60% of revenues to the players is too high a percentage for at least some teams. My overly simplistic and amateur analysis suggests the current players should share in 55% of the revenues. However, I believe the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) needs to do more for players no longer in the league due to injury or who become disabled later in life from football related injuries. 2% of gross NFL revenues should be used to take care of these players (that equates to around $170 million a year). The final numbers then, owners go from 40% to 45% of gross revenues, active players go from 60% to 53%, and an injured players fund gets 2%.
2. Teams didn’t get as much as they wanted, and the active players gave up even more, so it’s time to increase the overall revenues to benefit both sides. They currently play 4 preseason and 16 regular games with 1 bye week for 21 weeks of televised games. Fans and players hate the 4 weeks of preseason, owners and players want more revenue, so the obvious (and already mentioned solution) is to make it 2 preseason games and 18 regular season games, but since it’s a longer season let’s go with 2 bye weeks. Also, to increase revenues, make sure each team has a Thursday night game (except for Dallas and Detroit and their opponents who have Thanksgiving afternoons already). Also, if it’s able to be scheduled, the Sunday BEFORE the Thursday game should be the new bye week, teams would have 11 days to get ready for their Thursday game (instead of 4) and then 10 days until their next game. Revenues would increase by virtue of an extra week of football and 13 extra Thursday night games.
3. Rookies hurt teams by getting paid big money then busting. Top rookies also hurt vets by taking up so much of the salary cap. There are rarely any trades in the top 10 of the draft due to the inflated contracts and there are various positions you just can’t draft in the top of the draft because that position isn’t worth the current contracts at those draft spots. So, a new rookie payscale. In addition, teams get hurt by holdouts. Time to simplify all of it. ALL rookies get a 3 year contract and become RFA’s (restricted free agents) in year 4. ALL rookies get minimum rookie salaries for each of those 3 years. Draft pick #255 gets a $20,000 signing bonus, pick #254 gets a $40,000 signing bonus, pick #253 gets a $60,000 signing bonus. The #1 draft pick’s bonus is then $5,100,000 (if I did my math right). It’s a signing bonus, so it’s guaranteed. It’s for a 3 year contract to an unproven NFL prospect. It will free up millions of dollars in cap for teams to use on vets. Hold up, there’s one more aspect to it, incentives. Each and every drafted player will have incentives built-into the contract based on position. All 255 of them. This part I don’t have hammered out yet, but for example, a Defensive Tackle might get $5,000 per double team, $10,000 per sack, and $10,000 for every game active. A Running Back might get $5,000 per blitz pickup, $100 per yard gained, and $10,000 for every game active. And so on for each position. Player #1 in the draft and player #255 in the draft can make the same incentives (if they play the same position). The actual amounts would have to be based on average stats for that position but it should allow a player to get paid like as if he was a top 10 pick in the current system (taking into consideration the 3 year contract) should he do very well for his team. Also, all contracts are pre-written, where you are drafted at and what position you play determines your exact contract, no negotiations, no holdouts. The incentive pay would have to be treated as NLTBE bonuses for cap calculation purposes.
4. Allow teams to have a practice squad of however many players they want. Since any team can sign a player from another’s practice squad this increases the pool of talent to pick from, it does reduce the available cap for that team and it increases team expenses (locker room, equipment, etc) so it’s self limiting in some ways but it keeps more players learning the NFL then with a hard limit.
Let’s get some feedback on these ideas then I’ll go on from there, if need be. Please comment on my ideas and feel free to introduce new issues for a future discussion.