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It took 132 days, but the NFL owners and players have finally reached an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, bringing an end to the NFL Lockout.
The lockout, which was the league's longest work stoppage in its storied history, began in early March when the players union decertified and Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees led a group of plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.
Under the new CBA, which lasts for 10 years, teams will have a $120 million salary cap for the 2011-12 season (New England Patriots are currently around $7 million under the new cap). In addition, players will receive between 46.5 and 48.5 percent of total league revenue, there will be a rookie wage scale, players can only be slapped with the franchise tag once and retired players will receive $1 billion in benefits and $620 million towards the "Players Legacy" fund. Here's a list of the upcoming post-lockout schedule from CBS Boston.
July 26 - Team facilities will be open for voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction.
Teams can sign their drafted players, as well as undrafted free agents.
The trading of players can begin.
Teams can negotiate, but cannot sign or give offers sheets to their own unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and franchise players.
July 28 - Beginning at 4 p.m. ET, teams can begin to waive or terminate players.
July 29 - Unrestricted free agency begins July 29 at 6 p.m. and clubs can begin signing players - their own or other teams' players. No payment can be made to players until a CBA is signed.
Aug 4 - The league year can begin no later than today.
Once again, the NFL Lockout could be coming to a close in a matter of hours. Owners approved a proposed CBA on Thursday, but players pushed off the vote until Monday due to uncertainty about the new deal.
Now, it appears that the owners and players have finally come to an agreement. According to multiple reports, including one from WEEI, both sides have agreed on a deal that should end the work stoppage.
Multiple media reports indicate that the players and owners reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement early Monday morning, pending the approval of the NFLPA executive committee and the players reps, which is expected to come later Monday. (via WEEI)
If the lockout does end on Monday, the expedited offseason could begin as soon as Tuesday, when team facilities could be opening, followed by training camp beginning Thursday and free agency starting after that.
The NFL owners have approved a new CBA by a vote of 31-0 (with Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders) abstaining, and the players will reportedly take some time to mull over the new proposed deal.
The general reaction from the players side to this proposed CBA has been negative, with some players saying that the owners put clauses in the deal that the players have never seen or agreed to. If that is the case, and the owners did try to pull a fast one, there could be negative repercussions that could jeopardize the start of the NFL season.
The lockout just keeps getting messier and messier. On the night targeted by the league to end the longest work stoppage in NFL history, it appears that the owners and players aren't as close as we thought.
According to a USA Today report, the players have rejected the proposed CBA that the owners nearly unanimously approved (31 votes yea, zero nay, one abstaining). However, that report has not been confirmed.
.@JarrettBell, the NFL beat reporter for USA Today, says players have rejected the deal. @dkaplansbj is hearing that's not true.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet ReplySB Nation
However, a report has also surfaced that the players have not yet rejected the proposed CBA, but will instead push off their vote this evening in order to take a deeper look at the new deal on the table.
Per @Jay_Glazer, "the players will NOT vote" tonight. They want to see what changes the owners may have made to the proposal.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet ReplySB Nation
The NFL Lockout could be over in a matter of hours. Owners approved a new CBA by a vote of 31-0 (with the Oakland Raiders abstaining), meaning that it's all up to the players association to approve, and then football will return.
For the New England Patriots, team president Jonathan Kraft was in attendance in place of his father and team owner Robert Kraft, who is morning the loss of his wife Myra Hiatt Kraft, who passed away at age 68 on Wednesday.
The Patriots owners and players have had a strong presence all throughout the lockout. The antitrust lawsuit filed by the players against the owners lists two Patriots players - Tom Brady and Logan Mankins - as plaintiffs.
Mankins was reportedly holding up a new deal early on Thursday, as reports surfaced citing that he had demanded $10 million or unrestricted free agency in order for him to sign off on the new CBA.
Logan Mankins was reported to be one of two players holding up a new agreement between owners and players that would end the NFL Lockout, but according to a report on Twitter, he is now willing to sign off on a deal without seeking compensation. Mankins was reportedly seeking $10 million or unrestricted free agency, which his agent denied.
LoganMankins has just informed the NFLPA leadership he will sign off on a settlement of the Brady v. NFL case without seeking compensation.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyRon Borges
The players and owners are currently meeting, with the owners expected to vote on the new CBA tonight. If 24 of 32 owners approve the new CBA, the lockout could end as soon as Thursday night.
With an end to the 2011 NFL Lockout on the horizon, the NFL owners will send the proposed new Collective Bargaining Agreement to the ten plaintiffs in the aforementioned Brady v. NFL antitrust lawsuit. While most players are ready to go back to work, two players involved in the case aren't quite satisfied with the settlement.
According to Mike Freeman of CBS Sports, New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins and San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, two plantiffs in the case, will not sign their names without being compensated 10 million dollars by the NFL in a possible settlement.
Mankins and Jackson are still asking for $10 million each and this is slowing the process, the source explained. Jackson has denied he is seeking compensation. And just to be clear: Mankins and Jackson are not themselves asking for the money. Lawyers representing them are. The lawsuit against the NFL cannot be settled until all the plaintiffs agree and as of late Wednesday night, the source said, Mankins and Jackson were still seeking payment. The NFL, thus far, refuses to agree. (via CBS Sports)
In a report from Yahoo! Sports on Monday, Mankins and Jackson stated that if they were not both awarded 10 million dollars, that they would demand to be come unrestricted free agents. Both appear poised to get their money either way.
This isn't the first time that Mankins and Jackson have expressed displeasure with their current situations. Last season, Mankins held out from the Patriots for the entire months of September and October before singing a one-year tender with the team in early November. Jackson meanwhile was suspended by the Chargers for the first three games of the season due to conduct issues.
The NFL Lockout may finally be coming to an end on Thursday. Adam Schefter has reported that all 32 NFL teams have been sent a memo from the league telling them to make sure all key executives are in attendance during Thursday's meeting.
NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams today, instructing key executives to attend Thursday's owners meetings in Atlanta. More on ESPN.less than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyAdam Schefter
Reports surfaced towards the end of last week that owners and players had reached an unofficial agreement on the financial terms of a new CBA. All signs point to Thursday as the day that the owners, players and fans can finally put an end to the lockout.
We're getting closer and closer to a new CBA in the NFL, meaning that the lengthy lockout is coming to a close. The latest glimmer of hope comes from former Boston Globe writer and current NFL Network reporter, Albert Breer.
The parties achieved the single biggest breakthrough they've needed over the last two weeks, closing in on agreement on the rookie compensation system on Thursday.
The result, it appears, is that the economics of the deal are, essentially, done. A lot of details remain, though it's hard to envision those left standing in the way of a deal. (via NFL Network)
While a deal isn't officially in place yet, it's encouraging to hear that the biggest reported hurdle has been cleared. The first official event in the 2011 season is the Hall of Fame game on August 7, and both sides have seemed to stress the importance of reaching a deal before the game.
Tom Brady, like all of the fans, has had enough of the NFL Lockout. Brady, who's name is on the lawsuit against the NFL, spoke out along with fellow quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in a statement released Wednesday, urging the owners to bring the lockout to a close.
"We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done," the QBs said, adding: "This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way." (via WEEI)
Brees spoke with a radio station Wednesday, offering hope that the lockout is almost over.
"We're very close to a settlement," Brees said on XX Sports Radio in San Diego. "We're at that point in the negotiations where there's just a few more details that need to be ironed out." (via SB Nation)
Bad news fans, the NFL Lockout is legal. That's the word from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that it is legal for the owners to lock out the players as the league's longest work stoppage enters its 115th day.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, as many reports indicated that the players and owners are close to reaching an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
So far, the lockout hasn't shortened any official part of the 2011 football season, which unofficially begins with the Hall of Fame game featuring the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams on August 7.
On the New England Patriots' end, it has been a relatively quiet lockout from the players perspective. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been the organization's biggest face in the lockout, as he is one of the league's most involved owners in the labor negotiations.
The NFL Lockout seems like it's entering the final stages, but a deal most likely won't be reached by Thursday night, according to sources of ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
It still is expected that negotiations will spill into early next week to achieve a "done deal," the sources said. Even with progress, there are unresolved issues that require further negotiations. (via ESPN)
Owners and players association representatives met again on Thursday at a law firm in Manhattan, with hopes of reaching an outline for a new CBA by the end of the business day on Friday.
In addition to NFL commisioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was in attendance at Thursday's meeting, along with NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, New York Giants owner John Mara and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Perhaps a sign of good things in store, the two sides have agreed to meet and continue talks through the weekend if a new deal isn't reached before Friday. Neither side has met on the weekend in the last month.
After completing talks last week in Hull, Massachusetts, the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association began their fifth round of labor talks on Monday in Minneapolis, Minnesota in hopes of finally striking a deal.
According to reports, the only two that were present for the talks were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, as the two engaged in one-on-one talks without any owners or players in the room.
In the past few weeks, the talks have been deemed "complex" and "complicated" by Goodell, however both sides are aware that a deal needs to come together in the near future, in order to preserve team training camps and the preseason.
Some internal deadlines have July 15 as the date a labor deal needs to be done to save the preseason in its natural form. (via NFL.com)
One topic that has been of great discussion lately has been the rookie wage scale. The NFL owners have been adamant in reducing the value of a first-round pick's rookie contract.
However, the players continue to protest that the rookies entering the league need to get the big money.
The parties broached the rookie pay system last week for the first time during these clandestine sessions, and it proved to be a difficult area to navigate. Last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, received about $50 million guaranteed in his rookie deal, and the owners have long looked to drastically mark down those type of price tags. (via NFL.com)
While attention has been focused on revenue sharing, there are other objectives that need to be taken care of in order to come to an agreement soon.
The sides have largely spent the last four weeks discussing the revenue split, an issue that dwarfs all others. And it's not just the revenue now, but also how to account for the league's future growth, particularly when the 2014 television deals are done. (via NFL.com)
The labor talks between the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association adjourned late Thursday afternoon in Hull, Massachusetts without a deal in place.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed the media outside Nantasket Beach Resort late Thursday. Goodell believes the talks are progressing, but classifies them as “complicated” and “complex”.
“Obviously, we’re all working hard. The players and owners were here over the last two days. De and I were here the entire meetings. And it’s complicated, it’s complex, and we’re working hard. We understand the fans’ frustration, but both of us are continuing to work hard at it.” (via Pro Football Weekly)
Smith also believes that the talks have become complicated, however he remains optimistic that a deal will soon be reached.
“Someone asked me whether I was optimistic. I think we’re both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we’re talking about the right issues. And we’re working hard to get it done. It’s extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by all the people, but we’re going to keep working at it.” (via Pro Football Weekly)
The NFL Lockout has reached Day 100 as labor talks continued again on Thursday as the NFL owners and NFL Players Association met in an undisclosed location in Boston. According to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, the two sides made progress and are heading in the “right direction” towards reaching an agreement.
“We are headed in the right direction,” the source said. “There is a desire on both sides to reach an agreement sooner rather than later.” (via ESPN)
The two sides continue to discuss several issues, including the players share of the revenue in the new CBA. The NFLPA held strong that the players should take at least 48 percent of the reveune generated, a dip from last year’s 50.5 percent.
Players believe they can justify a 48 percent take because of the projected revenue growth, as well as built-in mechanisms that require teams to spend close to 100 percent of the salary cap, a source told ESPN.com’s John Clayton. The mandatory minimum spending increase is an element that concerns lower-revenue clubs, sources say. (via ESPN)
Some of the other topics that were reportedly discussed was organized free agency. The owners and players seemed to have come to an agreement on how free agency will work, if there is a season.
If and when an agreement is reached, all players whose contracts have expired and have four or more years of experience are expected to be unrestricted free agents, sources familiar with the talks told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Certain tags will be retained, but that still is being discussed (via ESPN)
The NFL Lockout enters its 102nd day on Wednesday, and the owners and players are set to continue their talks, this time doing so in Boston.
The secret meetings between the two sides have been taking place at various locations across the country, including Chicago and New York City. The location Wednesday's meeting is unknown, as is the progress of the negotiations.
Cautious expectations on the two sides reaching an agreement in principle are varied, ranging from one-to-three weeks with the hopes of beginning a new league year (free agency, etc.) by mid-July. (via ESPN Boston)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the owners on Tuesday that in the next proposed plan, players would receive a 48 percent share of "all revenue." In addition, the players' share would never dip below a 46.5 percent share.
In the previous collective bargaining agreement, players received approximately 60 percent of "total revenue" but that did not include $1 billion that was designated as an expense credit off the top of the $9 billion revenue model. Owners initially were seeking another $1 billion in credit only to reduce that amount substantially before exercising the lockout on March 13. (via ESPN Boston)
The owners and players are scheduled to resume talks next week, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
Talking doesn't necessarily translate to a new deal but it's a step in the right direction. A few teams have started announcing that season ticket sales will start in the middle of July. I'm hoping that those dates aren't a coincidence and owners are selling tickets then because they believe the lockout will be over by that point. That's my hope at least. (Joel Thorman, SB Nation)
Reports indicated that the two sides were extremely close to reaching an agreement, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft shot down the notion that the lockout is nearly over, as reported by the Eagle-Tribune on Thursday.
The lockout, which is in it's 87th day, began on March 11th after the players union decertified and the owners locked the players out. If the two sides can't reach an agreement within the next few weeks, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will make a ruling on the arguments presented by both sides last week in St. Louis.
After 86 long, football-less days, the NFL Lockout may finally be nearing its end. A report from Bill Burt of the Eagle-Tribune indicated that an NFL source said that the owners and players are close to reaching an agreement to bring the lockout to a close.
According to an the source, owners and players were close to an agreement today to end the lockout, which entered its 86th day today.
Some coaches and players have been contacted about returning to work probably early next week and as soon as this weekend. (via Eagle-Tribune)
The two sides have been meeting secretly in Manhattan, New York for the past three days. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Judge Arthur Boylan were all reportedly in attendance.
The NFL Lockout is over! Well, now, wait just one minute. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lifted the NFL Lockout on Monday, but the league is requesting a stay to attempt to keep the lockout in motion until they go through their appeals.
Accordingly, Nelson has given the players until Wednesday morning to reply to the league's request for a stay.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson has given the players until 9 a.m. Central time Wednesday to reply to the league's expedited motion for a stay that would freeze her decision pending further appeals.
In plain English? This ruling means that we won't know for sure whether or not the lockout is over until Wednesday.
As expected, since the lockout is officially lifted for a day, players have started trickling into team facilities. Yet that hasn't been the case at Gillette Stadium. As of this morning, no Patriots players have shown up (via Boston Globe).
As of 9:45 a.m., no players had arrived at Gillette Stadium, according to Patriots director of communications Stacey James.
Yet in this day and age, it seems like there's always a conflicting report. In this case, there are reports surfacing that some Patriots players have reported to Gillette, but they are unconfirmed (via Boston Globe).
While there were reports that some Patriots players had arrived at Gillette Stadium, those reports have not been confirmed.
Around the league, a smattering of players have shown up for work at their respective stadiums. In Washington, two Redskins players reported to the team facilities, one of which was wide receiver Anthony Armstrong.
"It was a little weird," receiver Anthony Armstrong said. "It felt like you were sneaking into the club or something like that, and they knew you weren't supposed to be in there but they hadn't done anything about it yet. Just a little awkward."
He said he would call other teammates to let them know there wasn't much reason to show up.
"It was not a scene or nothing," Alexander said. "I do have a workout bonus, and since the lockout is lifted out, I wanted to make sure I took full advantage to come up here and work out because I don't want some technicality to happen later: 'You didn't show up. You didn't come.' And then I'm out of my workout bonus."
We'll have our concrete answer on the lockout Wednesday morning, but until then, everyone involved will be covered by a cloud of uncertainty.
Monday evening, Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players, lifting the NFL lockout. It was a decision that the league's owners quickly appealed, seeking a stay of the lockout during the process. But with that ruling not expected until Tuesday sometime, it appears that for a few hours Tuesday morning, the NFL will run as though there is no lockout. Most importantly, this means the players can report to work as normal.
In fact, the former NFLPA is telling its players to do just that in an email sent Monday night (via Adam Schefter):
"Unless and until the judge issues an order for a stay, the teams will be in violation of Judge Nelson's order if they don't allow access."
NFL Managment Council told teams to let players into their buildings Tuesday, but also recommended keeping weight rooms closed.
There are already reports of some coaches contacting their players -- they were previously unable to do so when the lockout was ongoing -- and Ryan Clark and other Pittsburgh Steelers plan on reporting on Tuesday. And according to Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman (via NFL Network's Albert Breer), if a player shows up to a team facility on Tuesday, they will be allowed access: "If a player comes to the facility, he will be treated courteously and with respect."
But there are still more questions than answers at this point, as SB Nation's Brian Floyd points out.
The timing of the ruling couldn't be worse for the NFL. The 2011 NFL Draft is on Thursday and without a clear set of rules, anything could happen. With the lockout in place, teams would not have been able to trade players on draft day and would have only been allowed to trade picks for picks. But now? Well, we're not quite sure what will happen, but, theoretically, teams could make player trades.
Beginning immediately, with the lockout lifted, teams could sign and trade players. Is there anything stopping teams from making a mad dash for Matt Hasselbeck or any number of free agents out there? Not from a rules standpoint, but it's highly unlikely the owners break rank and make a mad dash for players.
NFL's wild, wild west scenario, indeed.
As was expected, the ruling on the NFL lockout came Monday evening, and it was a win for the players. Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players and the injunction to lift the NFL lockout. But it's all far from over.
The owners have already appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for a stay after Judge Nelson did not grant them one on Monday. The league is hoping to keep the lockout in place during the appeals process, which would prolong the start of free agency and offseason workouts; the players want the NFL to operating regularly during the appeals process.
If the the stay is denied, then the league will be open for business and the free agency will begin. In short: Judge Nelson has ruled in favor of the players, so now the burden is on the league to prove to the 8th Circuit Appellate Court that the lockout is legal.
"We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals," the statement said. "We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is obviously a fan of the decision, saying, "I'm happy for our guys and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners."
Smith added that he had talked to the lead plaintiffs, including Tom Brady, and said, "they're thrilled."
The NFL Players Association and the league were unable to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining and as a result, the NFLPA filed the necessary paper work to officially decertify Friday evening at 5 p.m. EST, making a lockout all but certain.
"The NFL Players Association ... has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the NFL. The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of the current and former professional football players."
The current CBA does not expire until 11:59 p.m., but the NFLPA had a 5 p.m. deadline to decertify. But choosing to go that route, the union has effectively chosen to fight the owners in court with a legal battle rather than negotiations. NFLPA executive director De Smith address the media briefly around 4:45 p.m., saying, "We informed the owners that significant differences remained, that if there was going to be a request for an extension that we asked for 10 years of audited financial records to accompany any extension." Basically, the players want to know how the owners are spending their money, but the owners are not budging on that issues.
The league issued their own statement Friday night, reading, in part:
At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification' and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.
The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.
The NFL is expected to officially lock out the players Friday at midnight, with the next step being a battle in the courts.
The NFL and NFL Players Association will resume their negotiations towards a new collective bargaining agreement on Monday after taking the weekend off, according to ESPN.
The sides were using this weekend to assess their positions, before resuming talks in front of a federal mediator Monday — and then they will have until the end of Friday to reach a new CBA, thanks to two extensions of the old deal. It originally was to have expired last Thursday.
The league and players association reached an agreement to extend the current CBA by 24 hours on Thursday night and then extended it once again on Friday, this time for one week.
While the move to extend the negotiating window doesn’t guarantee a deal will be reached, it is a positive sign that both sides are open to discussion.
According to the report from ESPN, the main problem holding up a new deal is focused around money.
Money, not surprisingly, is what is at the center of the standoff.
In addition to the owners’ proposal Thursday, the union also has made concessions in the latest negotiations, sources on both sides told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. The details of those concessions are unknown.
Earlier Friday, sources familiar with the process told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the sides narrowed the financial gap between them by roughly $5 million per team per year. Nevertheless, a significant divide exists — roughly $25 million per team per year. With 32 teams in the league, the gap equates to $750 million to $800 million per year.
Early Friday afternoon, the NFL owners and NFL Players Association agreed to extend the deadline for labor negotiations to next Friday, Mar. 11, at 5 p.m. This comes a day after they originally agreed to extend Thursday's 11:59 p.m. EST deadline by 24-hours.
Adam Schefter originally reported the extension and added that mediation will likely continue Monday. The extension is only for CBA talks -- no roster moves will be allowed over the next seven days.
The extension was a best-case scenario for those who want to see NFL games this fall -- it was very unlikely that the two sides would reach a new deal on Friday, but an extension represents that the two sides may think they'll be able to agree on a new CBA sooner rather than later. it also means (hopefully) we won't be dealing with this in August.
Read more at SB Nation's NFL Lockout Storystream.
According to multiple reports, the NFL Players Association and the NFL have agreed to a 24-hour extension in their on-going negotiations. Considering the deadline for he current CBA was 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, this is considered great news for those who want an NFL season in 2011.
Well, maybe it's just good news -- popular thinking seems to indicate that the two sides won't be able to actually accomplish in the 24-hour window and that it likely is just being put in place so the two sides have time to hammer out a longer extension. But that still would be good news, too, because it would indicate that both sides feel there is a reason to keep discussing now.
Reportedly, it was the owners who pushed for the extension, which may indicate that they are doing their part to avoid a court battle. If the two side cannot reach an agreement, or if they can't work on a longer agreement, the players union is expected to decertify before the CBA expires. which could then lead to a legal battle between the player and the owners.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and offensive lineman Logan Mankins will reportedly be lead plaintiffs in a potential lawsuit against the NFL, according to a report from ESPN Boston.
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Logan Mankins have agreed to be lead plaintiffs on the antitrust suit the players will file against the NFL if no labor agreement is reached and the union files for decertification, according to sources.
The league's current collective bargaining agreement is scheduled to expire on Thursday night at 11:59 p.m. EST. According to the same ESPN report, the NFL Players Association will decertify and file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL as soon as Thursday morning if no agreement had been reached.
Sources told ESPN the union was prepared to decertify Thursday, barring a last-minute breakthrough in the talks. That action means the union no longer would represent the players, who would be giving up their rights under labor law and instead take their chances in court under antitrust law. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the union had not made its plans public.
The NFL's D-Day has arrived. The NFL Players Association and the owners are meeting Thursday in advance of the 11:59 p.m. EST deadline, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires.
There was a moment of positive news earlier in the day, when the league proposed an extension to the current CBA, but then reports began to trickle out (via Albert Breer) that the players found the proposal "unsatisfactory," saying it lacked "specific language ensuring this is not a delay tactic" by the league.
If the union and the league ultimately opt not to extend, then the Players are excepted to decertify (allowing them to sue the league for anti-trust law violations) and the owners are expected to respond by locking out the players. Fun times.
For now, both sides remain in negotiations, with the main topics at hand the revenue split between owners and players, an 18-game season, a rookie wage scale and benefits for retired players.
For more on the NFL lockout situation, visit SB Nation's Storystream.
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