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The 5 O’Clock Club: Preparing for the 2020 lockout

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

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Washington Redskins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Mike Jones of USA Today recently published an article that focuses on the potential for a labor dispute in association with the expiration of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement at the end of the 2020 season. There have been numerous reports that both sides — the NFL and the NFL Players Association — are talking to each other, and that the talks are positive. It has been further reported that the owners would like to get a deal done before the 2020 season begins, not allowing a lapse between the end of the current agreement and the start of the next one. Reports that I have read have often indicated that this desire to get a deal done is driven by the prospect of inking new TV and other distribution deals in the coming year. These deals will be easier to negotiate successfully if the labor agreement with players is in place and the potential for industrial action is off the table.

Related: The 2021 CBA: TV rights, happy owners, satisfied players and a prosperous league — or not?

The leadership of the NFLPA is taking nothing for granted. DeMaurice Smith, the players association point man, has been making the rounds, talking to players, and spreading his message.

And what, exactly, is his message?


At least, according to the Mike Jones article.

A decade ago, despite repeated warnings from the NFLPA, many players never believed a work stoppage would actually take place. But it did.

Players were banned from their team headquarters even for medical treatment. Some players, who hadn’t saved adequately, wound up taking out high-interest loans, which in turn only worsened their financial situations in the long run.

Eventually, a deal was reached in time to avoid any lost season time. But many players wondered in retrospect if minimal preparedness on their peers’ parts caused them to make too many concessions in that CBA.

That’s why there’s a focus on better planning and understanding this time around.

In some ways, I find it hard to imagine that either side — players or owners — would instigate a work stoppage or lockout. After all, the current CBA, while it has a few issues that could be ironed out, has been a boon to veteran players and owners alike.

Related: The upcoming CBA could change the value of rookie contracts

By implementing the rookie wage scale that is tied to draft position, the system frees up millions of dollars per team that must be spent on veteran players. We’ve seen the salaries for top-end veterans skyrocket over the past 9 years. Owners have never had it better financially. League revenue is growing yearly, and with the players getting less than half the money in salaries and benefits, the owners are being rewarded with franchise valuations that are spiraling upward with no end in sight.

But there are issues to discuss:

  • 17 game season
  • 5th year option/franchise tag/quicker path to free agency
  • 34-week pay schedule instead of the current 17

Related: What should the NFLPA be fighting for in the next CBA?

Davis stressed to the Chiefs players, “You’ll want to save half of what you earn this year and next.” Pointing to a flowchart, he explained that such measures will ensure each player has a year’s salary to live off of if there’s a lockout in 2021.

These are the same messages conveyed back in 2010 and 2011. But NFLPA leadership has hope that the message will sink in more effectively this time.

“Guys these young guys are playing with went through that 2011 work stoppage, so that helps,” Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt told USA TODAY Sports. “I experienced going from Sigma to Cobra and having multiple kids and a pregnant wife through all of that, so this is an opportunity for us to say, ‘this is what it’s like and it happened to us.’ So, any kind of advice that I, as an older player, can give younger guys about being responsible and saving comes in handy as we’re preaching, ‘Save. Don’t just spend it.”

Related: One more suggestion from OTC: raise the minimum wage for NFL players


What’s the most likely outcome?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    New CBA in place before the new league year begins in March 2020
    (41 votes)
  • 47%
    New CBA isn’t finalized till after the end of the 2020 season, but it happens without a work stoppage.
    (126 votes)
  • 12%
    Players’ strike during the pre-season/early regular season in 2021 before a new CBA is agreed to.
    (33 votes)
  • 13%
    Lockout by owners during the pre-season/early regular season in 2021 before a new CBA is agreed to.
    (36 votes)
  • 10%
    NFL armageddon
    (27 votes)
263 votes total Vote Now