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Why Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will vote against the proposed CBA

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NFL: FEB 01 NFL Honors Red Carpet Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even with the 2020 NFL Combine getting into swing this week, one of the biggest stories surrounding the NFL has been the proposed CBA that the NFL owners have sent to the players for their vote. While some of the players who helped negotiate the CBA have come out in support of the deal, including Washington Redskins long snapper Rick Sundberg and New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead, others have come out in opposition.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson publicly stated on social media Wednesday that he is against the deal.

Later Wednesday, perhaps in a bid to regain his status as an elite quarterback, Aaron Rodgers decided to copy Wilson’s stance.

Getting in on the action was Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who posted the following NOT SAFE FOR WORK video to social media regarding his thoughts on the proposed deal.

Obviously, the question then becomes why is the deal bad for the players?

The short answer is that the answer is not, in and of itself, bad. The deal brings about certain changes the players have asked for, and it includes significant increases in minimum salaries. Those are all good. The reason why the players should vote no on the deal, however, is not because it’s a bad deal. Rather, the reason is because they can get a better deal.

That may not make a lot of sense, so here’s an analogy to help explain things:

  • Getting punched in the mouth is bad, but it’s better than being punched in the mouth twice.

This deal is a punch in the mouth, and the following is a very short, very simple explanation of why. To start with, the key to this explanation is the owners’ own words, specifically what the players will get over the next ten years in exchange for agreeing to this deal.

There are two important parts of that tweet:

  • The share of revenue going to the players increases from 47% to 48.5% (a 1.5 percentage point increase) and
  • That 1.5 percentage point increase gives the players $5 billion in additional revenues over the next decade.

Now, with the important points laid out, it’s necessary to take a step back and look at the current CBA and the revenue split and picture very quickly. Here are the NFL revenues by year under the current agreement.

NFL revenues under current CBA

Year Revenue ($ in Billions)
Year Revenue ($ in Billions)
2011 8.82
2012 9.17
2013 9.58
2014 11.09
2015 12.16
2016 13.16
2017 13.68
2018 14.48
2019** 15.38
2020** 16.34
Total 123.86
**estimates N/A

Now, as noted above, the current revenue split for the players is 47%, meaning the owners are getting 53%. Based on these figures, we know that the splits for the two sides over the course of the agreement are somewhere in the neighborhood of the following:

  • Players: $58.21 billion
  • Owners: $65.65 billion

Now, with that $65.65 billion that the owners took in over the past decade there were:

  • Zero franchises which went bankrupt
  • Zero franchises unable to meet payroll
  • Zero franchises which saw a decrease in franchise value

Basically, the owners existed, and did so very, very, very profitably over the past decade while taking in $65.65 billion. So, that’s a baseline from which it is safe to make the assumption that owners and franchises are unlikely to go bankrupt or suffer financial strain over the next decade if they are to take in $70 billion or $75 billion or $80 billion.

Bringing this back to Schefter’s tweet from above, the owners state that the 1.5 percentage point increase for the players moves $5 billion from owners to players. That’s awesome, because it not only gives players the ability to have higher minimum salaries and better benefits in retirement, it provides the numbers needed to calculate the projected revenue split for the owners going forward. If 1.5 percentage points of revenue split translates to $5,000,000,000, then the math for the revenue of the league over the next decade is very simple.

  • Total Revenue = $5,000,000,000/0.015

That’s an easy calculation, and yields total projected revenue, using the numbers provided by the owners, of $333,333,333,333.33. Taking that $333,333,333,333.33 and dividing it to the players and owners under the 48.5%/51.5% split the proposed CBA calls for, the allocations are as follows:

  • Players: $161.67 billion
  • Owners: $171.67 billion

Recall from above the fact that from 2011 through 2020 under the current CBA that the owners took in roughly $65 billion and, by all accounts, have done very well for themselves. No teams are on the verge of bankruptcy. Some teams, like both the Los Angeles Rams and Las Vegas Raiders, have done so well financially over the past ten years that they have financed stadiums with costs in the billions. The Green Bay Packers not only didn’t go under, they were profitable enough to undertake significant upgrades to Lambeau Field and the area around the stadium. In short, NFL owners weren’t hurting over the past decade on their $65 billion.

So, if a group can not only survive, but thrive, on $65 billion over a decade, is it a stretch to imagine that group getting by on $80 billion or $90 billion? It doesn’t seem like it, but the proposed CBA, with a 48.5%/51.5% revenue split, would see the owners share go from $65 billion to $171B. That’s a raise of $105 billion for the owners over the next ten years, while it’s the players who are taking on the physical risks of a seventeenth game. It’s a $100B raise for the owners in spite of the players being the ones asked to do see both an extended regular season and extended postseason.

Putting everything together, the CBA proposal in front of the players certainly is an improvement over the current agreement. Approval brings an increased revenue share, higher minimum salaries and better benefits. However, it leaves a whole lot of meat on the bone - somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 billion worth of meat left on the bone according to the numbers provided by the owners themselves.

That’s $100 billion that is out there waiting to be tapped into by the players for minimum salaries that are even higher than those proposed in the proposed CBA. It’s $100 billion out there to be used for better pensions, lifetime healthcare or whatever else the players decide they want to use it for.

It’s $100 billion out there, waiting to be put to use improving the lives of current, former and future players.

The question is simple: Will the players simply donate that $100 billion to the owners in order to help them become even wealthier? Or will the players unite behind one another in order to form the unified and powerful force necessary to be enough of a threat that the owners carve off a piece of that $100 billion - whether it’s $5 billion, $10 billion, $30 billion or whatever number - to share with the players.

It’s now up to the players to answer that question.