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A Closer Look at the Proposed CBA’s Details

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A Closer Look at the Proposed CBA’s Details

Post  Big_Pete on Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:47 am

from insidefootball.com

A Closer Look at the Proposed CBA’s Details

07/23/2011 | Author Pat Traina

As we wait to see if the NFL and the NFLPA* finally resolve their differences on the CBA that the owners ratified 31-0 on Thursday, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the new rules that could go into effect.

Using the information provided by the league as well as the information that, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, was presented to the players’ executive committee for their review, I’ve tried to piece together a comparison of how things used to be, how they might be going forward, and what it means.

I’ve only focused only on some areas, specifically the salary cap, rookie compensation, off-season workouts, mini camps, training camp, and regular season practices. I have only included one item (out of a few) that the NFLPA considers to be an “open” issue.

I first have to list a couple of disclaimers. There are still likely additional details that haven’t been made available (and I’ve indicated where the picture is still somewhat fuzzy.) Ultimately, I hope the entire CBA will be made available once it’s finalized, but until then, I’ve done my best to try to break this down for you in simple English .

Second, some of these terms could be tweaked between now and the time a final CBA is ratified by both parties. I doubt the points undergo massive revision, but if anything changes, I’ll try to get you an update while I’m on free agent watch.

SALARY CAP
NEW: $120.375M with $22.025M in benefits for 2011. The $22.025M will not count toward player salaries.
OLD: $128M (in 2009) No cap in 2010.

What it means: Once upon a time, the NFLPA leadership reportedly suggested that if the salary cap went away, the likelihood of it returning wasn’t very good. Further, the players were said to be eagerly awaiting the uncapped year because it would mean a financial windfall for them.

That proved to not be the case on both accounts. The truth of the matter is that there was no way the owners would have agreed to go forward without a cap, even it they had to make some concessions to where the once hard cap softened up (meaning that the $120M is actually a fluid number.)

Although the 2011 cap has been reduced from the 2009 number, the league and players have reportedly agreed to mechanisms to help teams transition so that they don’t have to chop veteran contracts. Read on.

NEW: There will be a $3M credit that can be used on up to three players per club who have a minimum of five or more accrued seasons AND a base salary of up to $1M in 2011. In 2012, that number drops to $1.5M and can only be used on players scheduled to earn a minimum of $500K.

What it means: My interpretation of this means that any player who is due a base salary of more than $1M in 2011 will not be eligible for this credit. Also, there have been reports that starting in 2013, teams will be able to “borrow” up to $3M against future cap years, though it’s not known how those rules will work if this clause made it into the CBA document that’s currently on the table.

NEW: There will be no performance-based pay in 2011.

What it means: If I understand this correctly, this means that there will be no league-provided incentives awarded to players in 2011, However, as the cap rises with the anticipated increase in revenue, performance-based pay is expected to return.

[CLARIFICATION: The incentive is actually the league-administered incentive that is awarded to players who meet certain criteria, e.g. playing a full 16 game season. In the past this pot has been divided up and given to players who do not exceed certain salary levels.]

The reason for this is that money that ordinarily would have gone to performance-based payments will instead be used to help clubs during the two-year transition period (see SPECIAL 2011-2012 TRANSITION RULES, below).

NEW: Workout bonuses will be paid to players if player reports to training camp and performs the services required of him in preseason training camp. Teams will not be excused from paying this bonus if they cut a player before training camp begins or ends. (This is an “open item” as far as the NFLPA is concerned.)

What it means: In the past, players received the workout bonuses upon completion of the off-season conditioning program, which in the Giants’ case, usually wrapped up around early May. The likely issue the players have with this is that they don’t want to have to wait until the end of training camp (usually early September) to receive their bonus pay.

If we assume that all NFL off-season programs end around mid-June of each year – players would then have to wait nearly three months for this bonus pay.

The reason why the owners likely want this clause is to discourage veteran players many of whom are known to not be fans of training camp) to not hold out.

A gray area conerns a player that begins camp on PUP or cannot fulfill all o f the “services required of him in preseason training camp.” Does this mean the owners can forfeit the workout bonus? The way this clause is written, yes. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the players want to revisit this issue.

NEW: Roster & option bonuses, which were to be earned during the period of the lockout will now be amended to the second day of the 2011 league year. In other words, the original start date of the 2011 league year was slated for March 15; because that date has long passed, the roster bonuses that were promised to players when the new league year began will be paid on the SECOND day of the new league year, the date still to be determined.

OLD: Teams could pay roster bonuses as late as the start of the regular season.

What it means: Teams are going to have to decide a lot sooner if a player is in their plans. For the Giants, a perfect example is T Shawn Andrews, who is due a $3.5M roster bonus.

Under his original contract terms, he was to receive that bonus on the 30th day of the league year (which has yet to start).

However, if the players ratify the new CBA, he would now be eligible to receive that roster bonus within 48 hours of the league year commencing. If the Giants do not want to pay that roster bonus, they would have to terminate Andrews contract before the second day of the league year.

This also benefits the players in that they’ll have an opportunity to catch on with another team fairly early in the free agency period as opposed to being cut late in camp, for example, and then having to scramble to catch up on a new team’s playbook.

SPECIAL 2011-2012 TRANSITION RULES
These rules appear to have been put in place to help clubs adjust to the reduction of the salary cap and to help protect veteran players from being purged.

2011: All teams will have approximately $3.5M in what would otherwise be performance-based pay available to fund veteran player salaries. In addition, each club ay “borrow” up to $3M in cap room from a future year to support veteran player costs.

2012: In 2012, each club may “borrow” up to $1.5M in cap room from a future year.

In both cases, if a club “borrows” money from a future cap year, this money must be repaid in future years.

What it means: In lieu of issuing performance based pay as has been the case in the past, teams will have a $3.5M pot to help fund veteran salaries.

What’s not clear, however, is if this $3.5M must be applied to one contract or if it can be applied to multiple contacts. Similarly, it’s not known if a veteran must have a specific number of accrued seasons to be eligible for this funding.

As for the $3M credit, as mentioned above, it can be applied to up to three players with 5 + accrued seasons and a salary of up to $1M. Previously, I thought the $3M credit could only be applied to one player contract, regardless of the amount or years of experience.

The borrowed money will be deducted from a future cap year; it’s not known, however, if that cap year will be 2013 or i it can be any year in the deal. My guess is that the lending is going to come from the 2013 cap as by then, the “borrowing” will cease to exist. Also by then, the 2013 cap should be much higher than it is now.

ROOKIE COMPENSATION
NEW: The 2011 limit is $874M league-wide; that number will increase with the cap this year. First-year rookie compensation will be $159M in 2011, increasing with the cap.

OLD: Previously, teams received a rookie pool based on where they drafted in round one. The pool typically decreased the lower a team drafted.

What it means: With the rookie wage scale in place, it sounds like slotting – waiting to see what the picks in front of you signed for — is a thing of the past. This clause SHOULD help teams get their draft picks signed quicker and thus avoid any potential draft pick holdouts.

What I think will be the case is that the $874M rookie pool will be divided among the 32 teams, a total of $27,312,500 per team to spend on rookies (both draft picks and undrafted free agents with no years of NFL experience.) What isn’t clear is if this pot includes signing bonuses.

It’s not clear if the $159M to be used for first year players is league wide, or per team. However, one thing e can clear up is that a first-year is someone who might have spent last year on a practice squad last year or who was on the 53-man roster but who did not put in the required amount of weeks to be eligible for a full year of service. You can usually distinguish who these players are because their NFL experience is listed as “1” instead of “2” or “R.”

NEW: No rookie contract will exceed four years for draft picks; first-round draft picks will have a fifth year that will be designated as an option year. Undrafted rookies will receive three-year deals.

OLD: Previously, first round picks automatically received five years and rounds 2-7 received four years. Undrafted free agents were signed to two-year contracts.

What it means: Teams no longer have to worry about dumping truckloads of money on players based on potential. Therefore, if a first rounder turns out to be a bust, the team’s financial impacts is minimized.

By shortening all contracts to four (save for the UDFAs), draft picks can look forward to unrestricted free agency a lot quicker; meanwhile UDFAs will be eligible for restricted free agency. This is essence appears to eliminate the “Exclusive Rights” category which applied to players who had fewer than thee years of accrued experience and whose contracts were up.

NEW: Rookies performance escalators for draft picks in rounds 3-7 in the fourth year of their contract will be granted provided that the player takes 35% of the snaps in two of the first three seasons with his club, or an average of 35% over three years.

OLD: Performance escalators were typically based on what a player did the year before, and the trigger amount was set by the team.

What it means: This is a big boost for players. First, it protects a player who misses all or part of any of his first three seasons due to injury. Second, the lowered amount that spans the first three years of the contract protects the player from coaches that might hold fringe players back if the team needs help with the salary cap. Further, this turns an “unlikely to be earned incentive “ into a “likely to be earned incentive.”

NEW: First-round draft picks will have am option year in their contract that if the team chooses to exercise, would hit in the fifth year of the deal, but which may be exercised after the player’s third season. This option year if exercised, is guaranteed even if the player is injured. Regardless if the player gets injured or if the player has a statistically poor season in the fifth year of the deal.

The top 10 picks will receive a base salary equivalent to the top ten players at his position league-wide (similar to the transition tender) in the fifth year of the deal if the option is exercised. The remaining 22 first round draft picks’ base salary will be determined by the average of the top third through 25th players at his position.

There is no limit on the amount of guaranteed money a player may contract with his allocation, except guarantees can’t skip years.

What it means: Gone are the days of teams dumping millions of dollars on first round draft picks based on potential. This new scale will protect teams whose first round draft picks turn out to be a bust; likewise, it will make retaining a budding superstar easier as it will allow the team an extra year to work out a long-term team with the player if it feels that the athlete’s stock is rising.

OFF-SEASON WORKOUTS

NEW: Off-season programs will be limited to nine weeks, divided into three phases, as follows:

Phase I: Two weeks of strength and conditioning activities (only strength and conditioning coaches may be on the field with players).
Phase II: Three Weeks of individual and “perfect play” drills allowed (no offense vs. defense). All coaches permitted on the field.
Phase III: Four weeks consisting of ten OTAs, with a maximum of three OTAs for the first two weeks, and a maximum of four OTAs for the third or fourth week, with the other week being the mandatory mini camp.

OLD: Teams would typically commence their off-season conditioning program on March 15, and it would urn through the mid-part of May, with only a 1-2 week break so that coaches could hold the rookie mini camps. In addition, teams used to have up to 14 OTAs to use, including the mandatory mini camp.

What it means: Based on the proposed nine-week schedule, it looks like teams will probably start their off-season programs in mid-April rather than mid-March. (According to an earlier report, teams ay not begin off-season programs until May 1, though there was some talk that the date could be moved back to mid-April.)

It’s also not known if teams with new coaching staffs will be given additional time to hold extra mini camps, as has been the past. However, it’s assumed that any player who wishes to use the club’s facilities to begin working out before the official start of the off-season program will be free to do so.

Earlier reports had the maximum number of OTAs as being nine with only three of those being padded workouts. It’s not yet known how many of the ten OTAs will be padded workouts, though it’s probably safe to assume that not all of them will be padded.

MINI CAMPS
The assumption is that the following will apply to both rookie mini camps and the mandatory full team mini camp. More on that in a moment.

NEW: Teams may open their mandatory mini camps on a Monday, but may only conduct player physicals on that day. They may hold practices on Tuesday through Thursday only. Teams may hold up to two practices per day not to exceed a maximum of 3.5 hours on the field. One practice can be up to 2.5 hours; the second practice is limited to a walk-through.

OLD: Teams used to hold two practices per day, with the option of having both in pads.

What it means: Every team had its own schedule regarding mini camps, so I can only refer back to what the Giants did last year, which was almost identical to what this new rule mandates.

The Giants’ 2010 mandatory mini camp ran from Tuesday through Thursday. They held two practices, both running approximately one hour and 40 minutes for a total of 3:20 of practice time. If they were to keep this same schedule in the future, they would be more than under the new 3.5 hour time maximum.

Where it will vary though is that only one practice will be permitted in pads. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say that all teams, not just the Giants, will look to make the most out of the time they get in pads, perhaps running a longer practice while making the walk-through a shorter deal.

One last thought on this subject. In the past, I believe most NFL teams held rookie mini camps beginning on a Friday and ending on a Sunday. I am assuming this will no longer be permissible and that teams will have to follow the rules above if ratified, though one potential issue could be if the rookies are still in school when the caps are scheduled.

We will still need more information as to whether teams will be able to have their rookie camps over the weekend so that they don’t interfere with the players’ college classes.

PRESEASON
NEW: Mandatory veteran reporting date will be no earlier than 15 days prior to the first preseason game The reporting day will be limited to just physicals and meetings (The Giants usually followed this schedule, though on the first day, they also had their players run a conditioning test; this apparently will not be allowed under the proposed new CBA.)

The second and third day will not consist of pads or contact drills. (In the second and third day of camp, the Giants generally held two-a-days, with one practice usually in uppers and the other in full pads.)

Only one padded practice per day limited to three hours, with the second practice at least four hours later and being a walk-through. (The Giants usually worked in shorts and shells in the first practice and then full pads in the second one when they held two-a-days. Usually the second practice was held at night when it was cooler.)

What it means: I believe most teams spend the first day of camp conducting physicals and holding meetings, though the Giants, in the past, held conditioning drills once the players reported and had their physicals. It doesn’t sound as though they’ll be able to do that any more on the first day.

As for the first two days of practice, again, every club is different. If I recall correctly, on days when two practices were scheduled, the Giants used to have one practice in shells, and the second in full pads, with a morning practice and then an afternoon practice. They would then switch to a schedule in which every other day they were holding two practices, with the two practices spread out between the early morning and the early evening.

REGULAR /POST SEASON
NEW: Limit of 14 total padded practices during the Regular season, 11 of which must be held during the first 11 weeks. Clubs may hold two padded practices during only one week with the remaining three padded practices to be held during the final six weeks. Only one padded practice per week in postseason. All padded practices are limited to three hours.

OLD: Pads were generally left to the discretion of the head coach. From what I could gather, most teams worke din pads on Wednesdays and Thursdays at minimum.

What it means: What is interesting here is that the NFL is a 16-game season, yet only 14 padded practices are being allowed. The likely reason for this is as the season wears on, the goal is to reduce wear and tear on a player’s body.

If no pads whatsoever are permitted, this means that the one or two practices teams tend to have in shells might no longer be permitted.

To understand the impact of this rule change, let me explain how the NFL practice schedule runs for the majority of the teams. League-wide, the biggest day of the workweek is Wednesday (assuming a team is set to play on Sunday, that is). That’s the day that teams typically install their game plans.

Thursdays are usually devoted to third-down packages and special situations/plays. Fridays are usually special teams and used to make any last-minute tweaks while Saturdays are generally a walk-through (rehearsal) of everything that was installed during the week or if time is limited, of the things the coaches want to reinforce for Sunday.

NEW: Bye weeks must consist of five consecutive days off.

OLD: This was usually up to the head coach.

What it means: The Giants historically gave their players anywhere from 3-4 consecutive days off – it would usually depend on the team’s overall health and what its record was. The practices wouldn’t be intense nor would they usually be in full pads. With this new regulation, you can bet that pads won’t be an option and that practices will be of the walk-through nature.

As for when teams will wrap up their bye-week work, this seems to be a gray area. Usually teams start their new workweek on a Wednesday, the day after the universal day off for the players.

I’m wondering if teams will be able to work as late as Thursday in their bye week so long as the players don’t have to report to the facility for the next five days. That would mean they’d be able to report back the following Wednesday. So one thing I’d be looking at is if the five consecutive days off have to be during the actual bye week (at which point all football activity for the week would cease on a Tuesday) or if it doesn’t matter so long as the players reecive five consecutive days off.

PLAYER MINIMUM SALARIES
If ratified, all 2011 player minimum salaries will jump up $55K from last year. The 2011 breakdown would be as follows:

Rookies: $375K

  • 1 year of experience: $450K
  • 2 years of experience: $525K
  • 3 years of experience: $600K
  • 4-6 years of experience: $685K
  • 7-9 years of experience $810K
  • 10+ years of experience: $910K

This is significant because usually with the rookie salaries (except for the first and sometimes high second rounders) the players often get the minimum salary commiserate with their experience.

Thus a four-year rookie contract for draft picks 2-7 might have the following base salaries (which reflect the proposed minimum pay scale for 2011-2014): Year 1: $375K; Year 2 (based on two years of accrued service): $540K; Year 3 (based on three years of accrued service): $630K; and Year 4 (based on four years of accrued service): $730K. That would mean a rookie draft pick’s deal would pay a minimum of $2.275M over four years, with signing bonuses and any incentives extra.
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Re: A Closer Look at the Proposed CBA’s Details

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:15 am

Intersting read. Thanks for posting it.
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