We've passed that all important date that owner Jim Irsay talked about as being pivotal to beginning of the season without interuption. What now?
Pressure for labor deal grows
Some sticking points remain, and owners are keen to save lucrative preseason games
By John Clayton
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Preseason games may not be especially popular with fans, but they are money-makers for NFL owners. Reaching a deal soon would preserve the exhibition season. Although everyone has good vibes about the way talks are going between owners and players, this week is the most vital to start getting a deal done.
Talks without a deal can't go too much past July 4. The pressure is already obvious. The Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets ran out of time to plan training camps away from their headquarters, a blow to Ravens and Jets fans. The St. Louis Rams will probably be the next team to decide to stay at home.
The good news is that both sides can see what it takes to get a deal. Players must be able to sell 48 percent of all revenue in order to get the support of the former union. Owners need some flexibility in the middle of the CBA when they need cost credits for new stadiums. For those circumstances, players could lower their take to 46.5 percent.
The rookie wage scale remains an issue. It's not insurmountable, though. Although both sides are willing to slash the guarantees given to first-round picks by 50 percent, owners want five-year contracts and players want four years. With owners willing to go four-years-and-an option for picks 17 through 32, one slight adjustment could settle that debate.
Timing is everything. Owners have a lot to lose if the preseason slips away. The exhibition season is worth around $700 million to owners, money that goes almost directly to the franchise. Players make less than $2,000 a week. Owners share all the ticket sales money. Losing the preseason would cut revenue by $22 million a team. It's safe to say that this is an important week.