In May I started a series on the collective bargaining agreement that governs players and teams in the NFL, however that series was sidetracked in the wake of the news surrounding the Seattle Seahawks signing of defensive linemen Ziggy Ansah and Al Woods. Getting back to the series for fans who would like to better understand what the CBA is and some of the details of the rules that govern the actions of the league. I left off with Article 2 after covering Article 1, and so today we’ll go ahead and move into Article 3.
Article 3 is extremely simple, as it just lays out that both the NFL and the NFL Players Association agree that neither side will take actions to initiate a work stoppage during the period of time that the CBA is in effect. With the current CBA having gone into effect prior to the 2011 season and running for ten years, that means that fans are assured of having their football through the 2020 season.
However, with the expiration of the CBA set for March 2021, either the union could strike or the owners could lockout the players at that time. Obviously, we’ve already seen posturing from both the players and the owners over the past couple of months, with the league reportedly pushing for an expansion of the regular season to 18 games and the union urging members to make sure they have enough money saved to withstand a long work stoppage.
In addition, Article 3 also includes the agreement that neither side will bring any action against the other for anything that transpired prior to the adoption of the new CBA. There was one exception carved out for this, with grievances which were eligible under the prior CBA still eligible to be litigated. Further, the CBA specifically notes that any grievance, including both injury and non-injury grievances, would be allowed to be carried through the adoption of the new CBA and could be litigated, as neither party was waiving that right.
While this seems fairly simple, boring and meaningless, it’s part of how the league was able to effectively push some salary cap space into the old CBA, reducing the owners expenses under the new agreement. For those who do not remember, when the prior CBA expired, the 2010 season had been an uncapped year, and some owners tried to take advantage of that, specifically the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, to eat future dead money by releasing players in 2010. The league responded with penalties for the two teams that combined to eat up $46M in cap space during the term of the new CBA, even though the league had no cap in the year when the teams incurred the dead money.
In any case, the next step in this series will be to move into Article 4 and look at player contracts and how they’re set up.