New CBA not as close as some assume?

DeMaurice Smith, NFL Players Association Executive Director, makes a statement after negotiations collapsed between the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) in Washington on March 11, 2011. The last real hope for a quick end to the dispute ended when the union representing the players (NFLPA) filed a court application to dissolve itself after failing to reach an agreement with league and owners over a range of issues. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

Over the last few weeks, the majority of fans have been under the assumption that the NFL was on the verge of signing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That’s because most of the reports on the labor dispute have been positive lately.

Until now, that is.

According to a FOX Sports report, NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith met with a group of players on Tuesday to inform them that the NFL is not nearly as close to signing a new CBA as many say. does a nice job summing up FOX Sports’ findings:

Smith did express optimism in the “under-the-radar” conference call, but told a group of 50 players that recent reports of a close or even done deal are “way off.” According to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, problem points include years of service for free agency and money allocated for retirees. “And (those problems are) even before we start talking about splitting the revenue,” one player on the call told Glazer. It sounds like speculation of a CBA just after July 4 has been misinformed. The owners are desperate to get all four preseason games in, however, so we’d still expect a deal before August.

I still think a deal will get done sometime in July. I’m no expert on the situation but it’s my understanding that the framework for a new CBA is already done. Now all the sides have to do is iron out the details (which I understand could take a few more weeks) and put a bow on things.

That said, I don’t blame Smith for managing the players’ expectations. There’s no sense in assuming anything at this point, especially when you consider how fluid these talks have been over the last couple of months. Things could break down rather quickly, so it’s smart of Smith to keep everyone focused until things are official.

At this point, I don’t view FOX’s report as a positive or negative thing. It’s understandable that the two sides still have plenty to work on, but there’s no reason to believe that the situation is as dire as it was a month ago. Again, I’m willing to bet that the CBA will be signed sometime in July and free agency can begin.

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