Now that members of the National Football League Players Association have voted to accept terms of a deal with team owners, no regular season games will be missed and the $9.3-billion business known as professional football is indeed back.
The new 10-year deal changes how the money is split between the players and owners. The players will receive 48 percent of all revenue compared to 57% in the previous deal. The owners also received a $1 billion dollar credit off the top in the last CBA, making the players share closer to 53%. The owners were originally asking for $2 billion in earlier negotiations, but dropped that demand in exchange for a greater share of the revenue pie. The league is expected to increase in value from the current $9.3 billion to almost $15 billion by the 2015 season, making this a good deal for both sides.
In return, the owners must now spend almost the entire $120 million salary cap in player salaries. This move forces teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were almost $59 million under the cap, to spend more to field more competitive football teams. Free agency and trades started Tuesday with teams able to sign players from other teams on Saturday.
Teams started signing their undrafted and rookie free agents to contracts on Tuesday. Rookie deals are now subject to a new slotting system, which will transfer most of the money usually spent on rookies to veteran players.
Under this new system, rookies drafted in the first round will get five-year deals, while rounds two through seven get four years. Undrafted rookie free agents will receive three-year deals.
The rookies selected in the top 10 will be taking a huge pay cut, compared to their 2010 counterparts. Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick in 2010, signed a six-year, $78-million deal with $50 million guaranteed. This year’s No. 1, Cam Newton, will eventually sign a four-year deal worth around $22 million.
If Newton and any of the other rookies in the top 10 excel on the field, their teams can exercise an option to pay them in the top 10 salaries at their position, possibly pushing Newton’s deal to a five-year, $36-million package.
Other key elements of the collective bargaining agreement are:
- Owners have agreed to reduce practice sessions in pads in an attempt to improve player safety.
- Minimum salaries of players will rise $55,000 dollars to $375,000.
- Retired players will get improved health and pension funding.
All in all, the agreement appears fair to both sides and will lead to labor peace until 2021.
NFL fans are excited. Teams report ticket sales are up 332 percent since the lockout was lifted.
The popular Web site ProFootballTalk also reported its highest traffic day as fans checked in to see which teams had signed undrafted rookies and free agents.
Teams will now try to do a 4-month process of free agency, rookie signings, and conditioning for players in a matter of days. But us fans don’t care, because football is back!! Like Terrell Owens once famously quipped, “Get your popcorn ready.”