McManus: DeSean Jackson May Not Report To Camp

Eagles' training camp is under way, but the team is missing a player at Lehigh -- DeSean Jackson.

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NFL Lockout News: Owners Approve New Labor Deal

The NFL owners have unanimously approved the new CBA deal and settlement terms. It will ensure 10 years of labor peace in the NFL and settle all outstanding lawsuits. Now, it on the players to not only ratify the agreement, but also reform as a union. The owners' approval of the new deal in contingent on the players reforming their union.

"We are pleased to announce that our clubs have approved the terms of a long-term negotiated agreement with the NFL players," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "It includes many positive changes that emerged from a spirit of compromise rooted in doing what is best for the game and players. DeMaurice Smith and his team, and the players and owners involved in the negotiations, deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism. If approved by the players, this agreement will allow the league and its players to continue to benefit from the NFL's popularity and will afford a unique opportunity to deliver to fans an even better, safer, and more competitive game in the future.

Reports are that the players have an 8pm conference call scheduled at which point they could vote to approve the deal as well. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith literally jumped into the live shot ESPN was doing as they were reporting the news and said that the league was sending over the deal they just approved.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with the media minutes after the deal was approved and said that clubs will open their doors to players this Saturday and they are prepared to start a new league year on Wednesday, but that is conditional on the players re-constituting as a union. Reportedly, players will be allowed to sign their union cards on Saturday at their teams' facilities as part of the process to  reconstitute the union.

Also, the Hall of Fame game has been officially canceled.

Here are the outlines of the deal the owners voted on today.

  • The details are basically what we've heard.
  • The cap will be $120 million with a $106 million floor.
  • Veterans will earn free agency after four years.
  • Players will get 48% of league revenue.
  • Rookie contracts will be four years with a team option for a fifth.
  • Rookie salaries will be lowered and there will be a cap on rookie spending.
  • Training camps will start later and there will be no more full contact two-a-day practices.
  • OTAs will be reduced from 14 to 9.

The only possible stumbling block now is that the players must reconstitute as a union and some players reportedly do not want that. However, they only need a majority of the vote to do so.


NFL Lockout News: Deal Close, But July 21 Still Appears To Be Official End Date

It appears as though our long national nightmare is just about over. Many sources are reporting that all the major terms of a new CBA have been hammered out and an announcement could be made within days, if not hours.

However, the important thing is that whenever the new deal is announced, it won’t be official until the owners ratify it, which would happen on July 21st when the owners meetings in Atlanta commence. So an announcement that a deal has been reached will signal the end of the lockout, but it won’t be officially over until the owners vote on it.

Now when that happens, it appears as though the owners will get a three day window starting on July 22 to negotiate with their own free agents. There will be no right of first refusal as the owners wanted, but they will have a chance to talk with their pending free agents before frenzy begins, which seems fair.

Then on July 25th, the floodgates open and player movement will commence. That means trades, free agency… The NFL will truly feel like it’s back that day. Just a few days later, training camps will likely commence, which means we could be seeing free agents signing one day and showing up to camp the next or a few days later. It certainly won’t be the best thing for getting them integrated in to the team and taught the system… but it sure will be exciting.


NFL Lockout News: 8th Circuit Rules For Owners, Declares Lockout Legal

The 8th circuit court has ruled for the NFL owners in the Brady vs NFL case by a 2-1 vote. The decision essentially means that the court has declared the lockout legal and vindicated the owners legal strategy so far. Of course, this is really no surprise as it has been apparent since the court decided the hear the case that it was very likely that they would overturn the lower court’s ruling for the players.

But what does this mean for the actual negotiations? Well, that depends on how much of the reporting about them has been true. Like I said, this decision is no surprise. So it really doesn’t hand the owners any more leverage than they already had. The players would have known they would lose this suit already. So, if the reporting is to be believed and the sides are close to a deal, this ruling really shouldn’t have any effect.

If anything, it’s just another reason to get it done. Especially for the players, who now know for sure that the owners can lock them out and not play them next year if a new deal is not reached.

So now that the court fight is essentially over, all eyes turn back to the negotiations as the sides try to hammer out a deal by next week.


NFL Lockout News: Details Of Possible New Agreement Leak

The NFL owners and NFLPA have been meeting over the past two weeks in hopes of getting a new collective bargaining agreement done before they reach the point where the 2011 season could be in jeopardy. So far, the reports from these negotiations have been positive, but no details have leaked out… until now.

With all the NFL owners in Chicago for a meeting, reports are now that they are being briefed on some of the parameters that could end up being part of the final CBA that has been talked about with the players over the past two weeks. Here are some of the specific points that the negotiating teams on either side have reportedly agreed to.

Players will get 48 percent of all revenue. Previously, the owners were asking for 1-2 billion dollars off the top before revenue was shared. This is a big win for the players if true. The players’ share will not be allowed dip below 46.5 percent, per the formula that is used to share revenue. Teams will have a salary floor that requires them to spend at least 90-93 percent of the salary cap.

A rookie wage scale seems to be part of deal but is still being hammered out. The 18 game season is not part of the deal, but it will remain an option that can be discussed in the coming years. There will however be a new 16-game Thursday night TV package starting in 2012 that will help grow league-wide revenue and “pay” for part of this new deal.

In addition, owners will get some “expense credits” for funding new stadiums and retired players will see a significant bump in benefits.

Sources are saying that a deal could be done by mid-July, which would allow for a full preseason. Of course, there is still more negotiating to be done and the owners as a group still have to approve this deal.


NFL Lockout: 8th Circuit Court Hands Owners' Their First Victory

The 8th circuit court has finally handed down a ruling on the NFL owner’s request for a permanent stay on Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling against them. Suffice to say, the players aren’t going to like it.

The appellate court granted the NFL a permanent stay of Judge Nelson’ ruling pending a full appeal sometime next month. When the court granted the temporary stay, it seemed only a matter of time before it would issue a permanent one. The vote was 2-1 and the majority opinion had this to say.

In sum, we have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the league’s lockout, and accordingly conclude that the league has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits," the majority wrote.

This speaks to the exact argument the NFL made to Judge Nelson. They said that she didn’t have jurisdiction in the matter and it should be referred to the National Labor Relations Board, which adjudicates disputes between a union and ownership. She ruled that wasn’t the case.

One of the reasons no one was surprised that Judge Nelson ruled in favor of the players was because of some of the comments she made and questions she asked during the case. It was clear she was leaning toward the players. Which way do you think the 8th circuit is leaning? In this passage, they directly address Judge Nelson’s ruling.

“The district court reasoned that this case does not involve or grow out of a labor dispute because the players no longer are represented by a union,” the majority wrote. “We have considerable doubt about this interpretation … [the Norris-La Guardia Act] does not specify that the employees must be members of a union for the case to involve or grow out of a labor dispute.”

If you read the excerpts I took from Judge Nelson’s ruling, she was impeccable in backing up her understanding of the law. Right there, the 8th circuit just said…. “We disagree.” And in the way our court system works, what the appellate court says is what goes.

This seems pretty simple to me. The players are going to lose. And after the 8th circuit, there’s pretty much no where else to go. So, they might want to think hard about really trying to hammer out a deal in these next couple weeks. Because when the owners win, and I think it’s pretty clear that they will, this is going to set a precedent that the NFLPA, MLBPA, NHLPA and NBAPA don’t want. It may be wise to get a deal done before the 8th circuit hears this case.


NFL Lockout Back On: 8th Circuit Grants NFL Stay, Politics At Play?

The 8th circuit court of appeals has granted the NFL it’s motion for a temporary stay of Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling to the lift the lockout. That means all lockout conditions have been restored for the moment.

Two judges voted for the stay, while one dissented. This is where it gets interesting. Legal experts have warned during this process that the 8th circuit is considered to be rather conservative and is usually pro business and anti labor in a collective bargaining dispute such as this. Basically the opposite of the track record of Judges like Doty and Nelson, who were more pro labor. The NFL has seemingly been wrangling to get this case in front of the 8th circuit all along.

The dissenting judge, Kermit Bye wrote a very strongly worded rebuke of his 8th circuit colleagues. “I am unaware of a general practice in this circuit of resolving requests for stays pending appeal in non-emergency situations in a two-step process”

Bye’s implication is that it’s highly unorthodox for the 8th circuit to make a move like this. The vote went down political lines. Bye, who dissented, is a Clinton appointee, while the two judges who voted for the stay Steven M. Colloton and William Duane Benton, are George W. Bush appointees.

Bye said simply that the NFL had not proven that they were being done irreparable harm by the absence of the lockout.

“The NFL has not persuaded me this is the type of emergency situation which justifies the grant of a temporary stay of the district court’s order pending our decision on a motion for a stay itself.”

For those hoping to an end to his dispute, this is a negative development. Plus, as NFL Network's Albert Breer reports, the same three judge panel that granted the stay are expected to be the same three who will hear the NFL's appeal. If that vote goes along party lines as well, the owners would win, the lockout would be legal and we'd be back at square one.


NFL Lockout: League Tells Teams To Open For Business

The NFL has dispatched a “post injunction operations” memo to teams in the wake of Judge Nelson ruling advising them to essentially open for business.

Clubs have been directed to allow players to use team facilities for training, rehab and medical treatment. They are allowed to distribute playbooks and conduct film study sessions. Mandatory and voluntary camps may begin and players may also be involved in team sponsored charity activities.

As of yet, there is no player movement or free agency allowed. However, the NFL said that they will release that information tomorrow. Right here is the full list of what the NFL has told teams is permissible.

The NFL has filed an appeal of Judge Nelson’s ruling with the 8th circuit court and if that court issues a stay on her ruling this could potentially all be reversed. That ruling is expected to come quickly, but if a stay is not granted the NFL will have to proceed with a new league year, which means free agency, trades, basically everything will happen.


NFL Lockout: Goodell Says Union Lawsuit Threatens Football As We Know It

According to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the anti-trust lawsuit currently being pursued by the players union threatens the very fabric of the game. This morning he detailed the potential outcomes of a union victory in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece.

Basically, by dissolving their union and bringing an anti trust suit against the NFL, he says the union has attacked the entire collective bargaining process and everything that comes with it. That includes the draft, salary cap, salary floor, revenue sharing… everything that makes the NFL as competitive as it is. Goodell says the plan would “benefit some star players and their agents” but "virtually everyone else—including the vast majority of players as well as the fans—would suffer. "

By suing to prevent the NFL from collectively bargaining, Goodell says the players are attempting to rid the game of the following things.

The Draft - There would be no draft, players would enter the league as free agents and auction themselves off to the highest bidder. Clearly this is something agents would love to get rid of. In fact, Goodell quotes one agent, Brian Ayrault, as saying “Why should there even be a draft? Players should be able to choose who they work for. Markets should determine the value of all contracts. Competitive balance is a fallacy.” If you want to see Ayrault's full argument against the draft, you can find that here.

No Salary Cap/Floor/Minimum ect - Any team can spend as little or as much as it wants. Big market teams get all the top talent and small market teams get none, plus they don’t even have the draft to restock talent. Players could also be paid as little or as much as they can get. There would be no more “veteran minimum.”

No league wide rules on virtually anything – Each team would get to decide how much or how little they practice. There would be no league wide benefits, teams will decide what if any benefits they want to give to players. There would be no league wide drug testing. Teams can either test or not depending on their preference.

Now, the players would likely say that they have filed this antitrust suit to gain leverage in a collective bargaining negotiation. They’ll say they still want a collectively bargained deal. However, you do have to wonder if they win this lawsuit, whether they may reconsider. With their agents likely 100% behind killing off the current system, they’ll start getting a lot of advice that maybe this really is the way it will go.

It’s a scary thought for sure.


Report: Judge Rules For Players, Lifts NFL Lockout

ESPN is reporting that US District Court Judge Susan Nelson has ruled in favor of the players and granted their motion for a preliminary injunction lifting the lockout imposed by the owners in March. The ruling could mean that teams would have to open their doors for players to return to offseason workouts and have contact with their coaches. It could also mean that the NFL would have open the free agency period and players trades could resume.

However, the NFL is expected to file an immediate appeal and ask for a stay of the ruling while their appeal is heard. If that is granted, essentially nothing will change from the status quo.

While the ruling would certainly be a win for the players and would seem to give them some leverage, it certainly doesn’t ensure that the season will be played or that an agreement will be struck any time soon. The owners will of course appeal, which will prolong the process, plus the NFL also currently has an unfair labor practices complaint against the players that the National Labor Relations board has yet to rule on. If that decision goes against the players, it would render the dissolving of their union invalid and therefore the court decision that came as a result presumably invalid as well. Essentially we’d be back at square one.

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