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The open items before the league’s approval of the labor deal


On Thursday, the NFL announced that it had approved a new labor deal, subject to acceptance of the deal by the players. Some players complained that they hadn’t seen the final version of the deal that was approved by the owners, other players complained that the NFL had slipped new terms into the final version of the deal that was approved by the owners.

A day before, the NFLPA* Executive Committee and board of player representatives saw a summary of the proposed deal, which included the open items, as of Wednesday. Howard Balzer of the Sports Xchange and has obtained a copy of the summary.

The open items are set forth below.

First, the minimum team expenditure would be only 89 percent of the salary cap. The term would be coupled with a guaranteed league-wide cash spend of 95 percent of the salary cap. If half of the teams spend 100 percent of the cap, half could spend 90 percent of the cap, preserving as a practical matter a 10-percent spread between the highest-spending and lowest-spending teams. If, alternatively, all teams have a minimum cash spend of 95 percent, the total cash spend would be 97.5 percent or more, assuming at least half of the teams spend 100 percent of their allotment, with the other half spending 95 percent.

Second, those offseason workout bonuses (such as the $750,000 due to Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson) would be paid if the player reports to training camp and performs the services required of him. Thus, under this term, players who report for work (and then work) would earn all offseason workout bonuses, despite the absence of an offseason workout program.

Third, for rookie pay, an escalator would be available to push the fourth-year salary to the lowest level restricted free agency tender, which is $1.2 million in 2011, but which will increase with the salary cap.

Fourth, players would be guaranteed up to $3 million for the second and third year after a catastrophic injury. Balzer reports that, in the deal approved by the league on Thursday, the number had been cut to $1 million in the second year and $500,000 in the third year.

Fifth, the California loophole for workers’ compensation benefits would continue.

Sixth, the possibility of an opt out was included as an open item. Balzer reports that the final version included no opt out, making it a firm 10-year deal. (It has been reported that the players want a potential opt out after seven years.)

Seventh, payment of $320 million in lost benefits would be made for the 2010 season. In the summary document, the lump sum expressly is linked to the “lockout insurance” case. Basically, the players are proposing the restoration of those lost benefits as the payment of damages for the league’s failure to max out TV money when persuading the networks to pay rights fees during a lockout.

Eighth, a settlement of the Brady antitrust case would need to be made, separate and apart from the labor deal.

Ninth, a player would be subject to the franchise tag only once in his career.

Tenth, short-term injured reserve would be available, along with a possible game-day roster of 47. The deal approved by the owners reportedly limits the game-day roster to 46.

I’ll be pulling out some of the settled items from the summary later tonight for discussion and analysis. Thanks again to Howard Balzer of the Sports Xchange and for passing it along.