Suits and lawsuits bog down NFL labor talks
An NFL labor agreement never seemed further away.
On Monday, the NFL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board claiming the NFL Players Association is not negotiating in good faith.
The league says the union wants to avoid reaching a new deal before the current agreement expires after March 3 and plans to decertify so it can file an antitrust lawsuit.
A spokesman for the NFLPA released a statement: "The players didn't walk out and the players can't lock out. Players want a fair, new and long-term deal. We have offered proposals and solutions on every issue the owners have raised. This claim has absolutely no merit."
The union has received permission from members of all 32 teams to decertify but doesn't plan to follow through with that process.
Negotiations broke down last week and further sessions were postponed. But when both sides are more interested in litigation than negotiation, that's an ominous sign that a lockout of the players is even more likely than ever less than three weeks before the current agreement expires.
Under that scenario, young teams such as the Bucs, unable to progress in the off-season or practice under the direction of their coaches, could be affected the most.
Without a new collective bargaining agreement, there can be no free agency, trades or bonuses paid. The draft will take place as scheduled but agents are being encouraged not to allow players to participate in festivities during draft weekend in New York.
Simply put, the NFL owners and players cannot agree on how to split the nearly $9-billion in revenue. They have no accord on the owner's proposal for an 18-game regular season, rookie wage scale or retirement benefits.
Worse yet, the only place either side is focused on meeting is in a courtroom.