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NFL Lockout: Details Emerging From New CBA Proposal

The NFL owners are meeting in Chicago today and the news coming out from there indicate that they seem to be going well. Rumors and whispers of optimism have flooded the internets, and according to Chris Mortensen, details have been leaked on the proposed CBA Roger Goodell is explaining and pitching to the owners. There are some exciting tidbits to note: Per Mortenson's source, in the new CBA, players will receive a 48% share of all revenue and this number will not include the $1 billion owners' credit off the top as the previous CBA stipulated. Under that agreement, the players received '60%' of the revenue but only after the owners divvied up around $1 billion as an expense credit.

The two sides have created a new, simplified formula for revenue sharing that, according to Mort, "will eliminate some tedious accounting audits of the credit the players have allowed in the previous deal. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has stated that players were actually receiving around 53 percent of all revenues instead of the much advertised 60 percent."

Other stipulations that have leaked include (per Mortensen's article):

-A rookie wage scale will be included but is still being 'tweaked'.
-The 18-game season will be designated only as a 'negotiable item' with the players and is not mandated.
-A new 16-game Thursday night schedule will start in 2012 as a source for new revenue.
-Significantly increased pension funding and improved health care for retired players.
-A built in mechanism that requires teams to spend close to 100% the salary cap.
-Four-years needed for unrestricted free agency (franchise tag would remain).

So as you can see, the 18-game schedule would be tabled until a later date and the rookie wage scale would be implemented. New revenue would be generated (around $1 billion) with a 16 game Thursday night schedule. With the expected overall revenue growth in the NFL over the next few years, retired players would receive improved health care plans and a better pension. 

Onto the last two points: the first would be extremely exciting for Seahawks' fans, as there would be a built-in mechanism that would require teams to spend almost 100% of the salary cap. This is a departure from the old CBA which required teams to spend less than 90% of the salary cap and there were additional loopholes for teams to spend even less than that. Under the new CBA, the Seahawks (and every other team) would be required to spend close to 100% of the cap and this means the Seahawks would likely be MAJOR BUYERS going into 2011. 

CAVEAT: The following scenario I'm setting up is contingent on this specific CBA proposal, which is based on rumor and leaked information, getting approved and agreed upon. If that were true, there would be some pretty exciting ramifications for the Seahawks so I'll try and set them out for you here:

The Seahawks cleared a ridiculous amount of cap space last season during the uncapped (unfloored) year, and from what I can find, their salary cap hit sits at about about $81.1 million right now. If the new cap is something like $120 million (it was $130 in 2009), that means the Hawks have almost $40 million to make up to get near 100% of the salary cap. If you factor in the newly drafted rookies, and assume there's a new rookie wage scale you're looking at around $10 million for all of them combined (approximately). That leaves, in this scenario, almost $30 million to go out and sign some free agents. 

This $30 million, of course, assumes that you keep $5 million-dollar-man Stacy Andrews and retain the contracts of Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant. If these players are dropped or restructured, as some rumors have indicated may happen, you're looking at even more to spend. With $30 million+ you could realistically sign 3-4 top-tier players plus a few other solid role players. Very interesting. 

This is, of course, all speculation (and a LOT OF GUESSWORK ON NUMBERS SO DON'T QUOTE ME) and based upon the idea that the salary cap will be enforced at near to 100%. Even if the salary cap floor is 93%, which I've heard is floating around, the Seahawks will still be forced to spend a lot of money. So if this CBA is agreed upon by the owners group and ratified by the players, the Seahawks could be looking a lot different after the free agency period. 

And speaking of the free agency period: this new CBA would reportedly designate 4th year players with no contract as eligible for unrestricted free agency. This means players like Sidney Rice, Charles Johnson, Barry Cofield, Malcolm Floyd, Zach Miller, Antonio Cromartie, and yes, our own Brandon Mebane (among a great deal of others) would become unrestricted free agents. Stay tuned...