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Staying up to date on the CBA progress ahead of 18 March

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Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

I have found NFL Pro Football Rumors to be the most easily accessible source for regularly published information about the CBA.

Here’s their latest installment:

The thrust of this report is that, while it had been expected that players would be united against a 17-game season, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

They quoted Brandon McManus, the player-rep from the Denver Broncos:

McManus noted that the additional share of revenue ownership is offering in compensation would have a big impact on players towards the bottom of the pay scale. However, veterans and other high-paid players have greater financial flexibility and can prioritize their health to a greater degree. Still, McManus said he was personally not in favor of an expanded schedule and it would likely require some large concessions from ownership.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the single biggest win the union can get for the players in this CBA is an improvement in the revenue split. The latest report had said that the owners had already agreed to raise the player’s cut from 47% to 48.5%, with a higher split linked to acceptance of the 17-game regular season schedule.

This report suggests that the increased revenue split may not be much an incentive for the top earners — guys like Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, or Julio Jones — who can afford to prioritize personal player safety and health over increased income. However, for the vast majority of players in the league that earn less than a million dollars per year, the opportunity to increase their income by ten or twenty percents annually may be enough to get the CBA to a vote, and get the 50% + 1 majority needed for acceptance.

Then again, it may not.

McManus mentioned the need for owners to offer large concessions to get the deal finalized. There is probably no greater negotiation mismatch in the world than the 32 NFL owners versus the 2,000 mostly young men hungry to play professional football for the short time allowed to them. I have no doubt that the owners have a negotiating plan that includes giving late concessions to the players to get a deal done.

I speculated in my last article that one such “concession” may be the acceptance of a second bye week that the players may demand as a concession to player safety. The owners might “reluctantly” give in to that demand in the coming weeks to help get a deal done, knowing that it will actually lead to an extra week of televised football and a financial windfall for the league.

There may still be storm clouds on the horizon for this negotiation. The final word from McManus was that he “can’t fathom” an agreement getting done before free-agency.

While that wouldn’t be the death knell to an agreement, it would certainly be a significant bump in the road that would probably represent a significant setback for the negotiations.

Hopefully, this final public pronouncement from McManus is just public posturing — an effort to send a messge to the owners that the players aren’t just going to roll over for the sake of a deadline.