NFL labor situation Q&A

What happened Thursday?

The collective bargaining agreement was scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, but enough progress apparently was made during an all-day mediation session that the sides agreed to extend the deadline 24 hours. Several reports said the owners offered a significantly better deal for the players Thursday morning; neither side gave details. The speculation is the sides will use the extra time to negotiate a longer extension in hopes of reaching a deal without a work stoppage.

Does that mean a deal is imminent?

Not necessarily.

Now what?

If there is no additional extension of the collective bargaining agreement, the players have until 4 p.m. today to file to decertify their union, which would in essence dissolve the union and be the first of several anticipated legal moves. With no union, the NFL can no longer avail itself to a labor exemption, which immunizes collectively bargained rules from federal antitrust law, and players would be free to sue if the NFL attempted to lock them out, claiming restraint of trade. Three of the league's biggest stars — quarterbacks Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning — have said they are prepared to be part of such a suit should that situation develop.

What is a lockout as opposed to a strike?

A lockout is imposed by management: locking the doors to keep employees out. A lockout by owners would mean all NFL business would cease: signings, trades, workouts, treatments, contact with coaches, etc. A strike is imposed by labor: Players would be the ones to strike.

If the league decides not to have a lockout, can the players still strike?

Yes, but the players have said they won't.

What are other major ways players would be affected by a work stoppage?

Players wouldn't get offseason pay and would lose medical and pension benefits.

How would a work stoppage affect the upcoming draft?

The draft would still be held, April 28-30, but teams would not be able to contact their draftees or sign undrafted rookies.

What is this all about?

The owners and players are trying to agree on four primary issues: how to divide about $9.3 billion in annual revenue; whether the league should expand from 16 to 18 regular-season games (which players oppose because of the added injury risk); whether there should be a rookie salary cap; and benefits for retired players.

How have they been dividing all that money?

Under the existing deal, the owners can take the first $1 billion in revenue off the top, then give the players 58.8 percent of the rest. Under the new deal, they have been seeking about $2 billion off the top, citing rising stadium construction costs and the need to introduce technology for fans in stadiums and watching on TV. The players say that would cut salaries by about 18 percent though the clubs are raking in millions in profits.

How much money do players make?

The average yearly salary is $1.8 million. Last year's rookie minimum was $325,000. Since the salary cap was put in place in 1994, the average salary per team has gone from $35 million to $127 million in 2009, the last year with a cap.

What are NFL teams worth?

According to Forbes magazine, the average worth of the 32 franchises was $1.02 billion at the start of the 2010 season, with 16 clubs valued at more than $1 billion, led by the Cowboys at $1.8 billion. The Bucs were 13th at $1.03 billion. Jacksonville was last at $725 million.

Times staff; ESPN

NFL labor situation Q&A 03/03/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 8:48am]

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