Players Approve Deal With Owners To End NFL Lockout
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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The NFL Players Association executive board and 32 team reps have voted unanimously to approve the terms of a deal to the end the lockout.
Owners overwhelmingly approved a proposal last week, but some unresolved issues still needed to be reviewed to satisfy players; the owners do not need to vote again.
The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up the details Monday morning on a final pact that is for 10 years, without an opt-out clause, a person familiar with the deal told the AP.
Owners decided in 2008 to opt out of the league’s old labor contract, which expired this March. That’s when the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.
NFL owners and players agreed early Monday to the terms of a deal to end the four-month lockout, and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith later announced approval by the NFLPA’s executive committee.
Members of the NFLPA met at the group’s headquarters in Washington and were presented with the finalized agreement. President Kevin Mawae arrived shortly after 9:30 a.m., and a conference call for player leadership began at about 11 a.m.
The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up the details Monday morning on a final pact that is for 10 years, one source told the AP.
NFL clubs would be able to start signing 2011 draft picks and rookie free agents on Tuesday. Conversations with veteran free agents also could start Tuesday, and signings could begin Friday.
Under that tentative schedule, training camps would open for 10 of the 32 teams on Wednesday, 10 teams on Thursday, another 10 teams on Friday, and the last two teams, reportedly including the Jets, on Sunday.
Both sides set up informational conference calls for Monday afternoon to go over the details of the agreement. The NFLPA told player agents they’d be coached in particular on the guidelines and schedule for signing free agents and rookies; the NFL alerted general managers and coaches they would be briefed in separate calls.
Now the total membership would need to vote, with a simple majority required for passage.
The 10 named plaintiffs in the players’ lawsuit against the league — including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brees — must officially inform the court in Minneapolis of their approval of the pact, too.
Even after that, while training camps would be opened, a true CBA can’t be agreed upon until the NFLPA re-establishes itself as a union. Players will need to vote to do so even as the sides put the finishing touches on a deal; only after the NFLPA is again a union can it negotiate such items as the league’s personal conduct policy and drug testing.
A solution to the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987 would come too late to save the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7. It was canceled last Thursday by the league.
However, no other cancellations would be needed, and only a few teams would have delayed the start of training camp. Three of those clubs — the Giants, Jets and Ravens — decided to remain at their regular facilities rather than hold camp at a different site.
The preseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 11 with Seattle at San Diego. Super Bowl champion Green Bay is set to host New Orleans in the regular-season kickoff on Sept. 8.
The major economic framework for the 10-year deal was worked out a week ago. That included how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 — and at least that in 2012 and 2013 — plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
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