Is the NFL lockout finally nearing its end?
Jim Trotter of SI.com joined The John Clayton Show on Saturday to discuss the rumors and rumblings that the players and owners are moving quickly toward an acceptable labor agreement.
“We are settling this thing in the next two to three weeks… aren’t we?” asked Clayton.
“That’s what I’ve been hearing for a few weeks now,” said Trotter, “Middle of July, so I’m going to stick to that”.
With the recent meetings across the country, many NFL sources are now reporting that a settlement is imminent. Clayton explained that the players’ side of the table has been looking at roughly a 48% total revenue share, with the latest reports indicating that the current figures may very well exceed that number.
“I think it’s safe to say that in terms of all revenue, the players have always gotten 50%, or right in that ballpark,” said Trotter. “And I think it is going to continue to be somewhere in that neighborhood. What they give up they will get back, either in retirement benefits, medical benefits or something. They know they have to give up something. I haven’t heard the exact figure, because it changes.”
According to Clayton, the figure in question is a result of the fixed player cost – based on a formula which helps determine the total percentage of revenue share. Coming to terms on a satisfactory formula is the sore spot for both parties.
“This negotiation that we’re in right now isn’t about this year, or the next four years,” said Trotter. “I’m being told that they are already looking to the next one, and that’s what they’re all setting this up for. That’s why I say to you, I can’t see the owners leaving it the way it is from the standpoint that they know that they may be back in this position in the next four to six years, and they don’t want to go through it all over again.”
Trotter is reporting that his sources have told him to keep an eye on Chicago next week, the site of the next scheduled meeting between the two parties. So, is a new labor deal on the horizon?
“There’s an outside chance that a framework can be done by Chicago,” said Trotter. “It doesn’t mean that a deal will be done, but that the framework will be in place.”
Trotter believes a firm deal is possible by the middle of next month.
“Once the formula is reached and the owners know what their costs are going to be, they can concede to the rest of the things the players want,” said Clayton. With the framework agreed to, the new deal can be written and hashed out by the lawyers – hopefully avoiding the vagueness of the terms from the last go-round.
Both Trotter and Clayton agree the players’ initial offer was more than amenable in terms of revenue distribution, with the owners to receive the first 1.5% off the top and the remainder to be split among the parties.
“I’ve had some people, even league people, tell me that was fair,” said Trotter. “So I was mystified to some degree that the owners would come in at the 11th hour on March 11 and extend the proposal that they did.
“From my standpoint, I put a lot of this on the owners,” Trotter continued. “I’m sorry, people want to say that the the players have been greedy and this that and the other, but the players have been more than fair in this thing and I think that the owners are finally coming around to the fact that the proposal wasn’t that bad that the players put out there.”
With just over a month until the scheduled start of training camp, can the players and owners finally reach a compromise and ensure a full season of football?
“We are talking about people’s lives here, particularly as it relates to the players in terms of their futures.” said Trotter. “It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and I understand why we are going through it. But on some level, I’m like ‘man, can we get back to football?”