NFL owners agree to 10-year labor deal to end lockout, but players must ratify agreement
NFL owners approved a 10-year labor agreement Thursday, voting to end the lockout and allow players to report to training facilities this weekend.
Owners voted 31-0 on a new collective bargaining agreement, but it must be ratified by players for the league year to begin.
The NFLPA had scheduled a conference call at 8 p.m. in which they were to discuss the owner's settlement of litigation and agreement. But in an e-mail to players, executive director DeMaurice Smith said several issues that remain unresolved and there would be no discussion of re-certification.
"As you know the owners have ratified their proposal to settle our differences,'' said Smith's e-mail, which was obtained by SI.com. "It is my understanding they are forwarding it to us. As you may have heard, they apparently approved a supplemental revenue sharing proposal. Only, we have not been a part of those discussions. As you know from yesterday, issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open...There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time.''
However, owners who filed out of the meetings at the Atlanta Gateway Marriott felt convinced their work was done and that players would ratify the agreement after re-certifying.
"Ultimately, we're just happy for the fans and for everybody to get back to what everyone loves and that's football.'' said Bucs vice chairman Joel Glazer. "There's still some stuff to happen from their side. I think everyone worked really hard and it was a long time coming.
"We all love football and just want to get back on the field and see football.''
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear the issue was on the player's side of the field.
“We will be prepared to open the training facilities beginning on Saturday — this Saturday,” Goodell said in a news conference following the meeting. “We will then be prepared to start the new league year next Wednesday, subject to the full membership of the players ratifying the agreement and re-certifying as a union.”
Because the NFLPA helped negotiate the agreement, Goodell believed ratifying it should be a certainty.
“The clubs approved an agreement that was negotiated with the players,” Goodell said. “We also approved a supplemental revenue sharing system for the next 10 years.”
One casualty of the long negotiations is the Hall of Fame preseason game that was to be played between the Bears and Rams in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 7.
"There's an urgency to this," he said. "We want to have a full 2011 season that includes the four preseason games. We're up against the wall."
The league announced that players can begin voluntary workouts at club facilities Saturday of the NFLPA Executive Board approves the settlement terms. The NFLPA has to re-certify as a union and approve the CBA for the league year and free agency signings to begin at 2 p.m. July 27 when training camps open.
The new comphrehensive agreement includes changes in rules for player safety, insurance, retirement benefits and a new rookie salary cap, an increase in minimum salaries and cash spending for signing bonus and salaries on the $120.375-million salary cap.
As part of the agreement, NFL chief negotiator Jeff Pash said the players would have to agree to dismiss the pending anti-trust litigation from all 10 plaintiffs in Brady vs. the NFL.
"We would expect that as part of this agreement, litigation will be dismissed, disputes will be resolved and we will go for the next 10 years as business partners for the betterment of the game," Pash said.