Tons of good news on the labor front this weekend. It appears that the players and owners have (finally) made enough progress that a deal is right around the corner. In fact, all signs indicate that a deal will most likely be ready for ratification at the league meetings on July 21. On ESPN Radio today, ESPN’s John Clayton all but guaranteed that this was 100% sure to happen.
That’d be pretty sweet. Buffalo’s training camp is set to start July 29, so that would be leave just enough time for a very hectic free agent period before it’s time to get to St. John Fisher College for camp.
But are still potential landmines out there that could blow up this deal?
Sure seems that way. The big one appears to be the rookie wage scale. The players have apparently already agreed to a system that will pretty drastically reduce rookie contracts. (One report indicated that 2011 #1 draft pick Cam Newton can expect to earn about half of what last year’s #1 Sam Bradford made.) However, owners are pushing for these four-year contracts to have a team option for a fifth year at a locked-in price. Players are pushing for a system that will allow the top 16 picks in each draft to negotiate for “top 10 player at his position” money for that fifth season. Players drafted in the 17-32 spots in the draft will get to negotiate for “top 15 player at his position” money.
Are the players and owners really willing to torpedo this deal over this one (comparatively) small detail in the collective bargaining agreement? You would think not, but there’s some signs that the players are tired of doing all the compromising during these negotiations.
One member of the players’ negotiating team who has been a constant presence at the table said that players feel they have made significant concessions and overtures “that have not been reciprocated.”
He stated that negotiations Wednesday and Thursday will be the most telling days on whether an agreement indeed will be finalized within the July 21 time frame because “we’ve basically reached the limits of compromise.”