The NFL today announced the list of free agents for the 2011 season. For the complete press release, click here.
Archive for July, 2011
NFL-NFLPA PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCING 10-YEAR AGREEMENT
July 25, 2011
DeMaurice Smith: Good afternoon. I’m pleased to have Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League, with several of the owners who have joined us today. Mr. Richardson, the chairman of the CEC, Mr. Kraft, Mr. Mara who have come by today. We’re happy that we got an agreement that we have reached. I’ll turn it over to Roger to say a few words and we’ll finish it up.
Commissioner Goodell: It’s been a long time coming. Football is back and that’s the great news for everybody. I want to thank De and all of the players for their leadership and for securing the long term future of the game. Having a 10-year agreement is extraordinarily great for our game but most importantly our fans. Everybody worked hard, everybody had a passion and everybody believes in this game of football and what we can do to make our game better. And I think this agreement is going to make our game better. We’re grateful for all the work that both parties did to make sure that we came to this day today and to make sure for the fans that we can stand here and say “Football’s Back.”
Jerry Richardson: This is a long time coming. I would like to say what a pleasure it has been for us to work with the players on negotiations. As a former player myself, the relationship and conversations we’ve developed will serve us well for a long time. We’re delighted we have an agreement that’s going to serve the NFL, our players, our teams and our fans for many years to come.
Robert Kraft: First of all, I would like to — on behalf of both sides — apologize to the fans that for the last 5-6 months we’ve been talking about the business of football, and not what goes on on the field and building the teams in each market. But the end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade and we’ve done that in a way that’s unique among the major sports that every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive. We’ve improved player safety and we’ve remembered the players that have played in the past. I want to give a special compliment to Commissioner Goodell and De Smith. The Commissioner has to deal with 32 tough and demanding owners and he’s been able to keep that balance. But DeMaurice Smith has come in and he’s managing 1,900 players, a bunch of different professionals. It’s a new CBA with tricky language and he was able to keep all those things going and he was able to come up with an agreement that he and Roger did together with their two teams. Lastly, what kept me at the table the last four-and-a-half months was seeing the player representatives that represented the league’s players. They didn’t just look at the short-term interests of their own playing careers, but they looked long term. Especially Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth. I was so impressed with them that they acted as principals at the table looking out for what was good for the game. I believe you’re going to see a great NFL over the next decade. And I hope we gave a little lesson to the people in Washington, because the debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was.
John Mara: We are obviously very pleased to be standing here today. It’s been a long and pretty difficult negotiation. But I think at the end of the day, neither side got everything they wanted. But what we did achieve was a fair deal that will stand the test of time and will be in the best interests of our league, our players, our clubs and our fans. I have a lot of respect for the players that we’ve been negotiating with. They were tough negotiators. They represented their fellow players very well as did De Smith. I think at the end of the day we have something here that is going to serve the best interests of the National Football League for many years to come.
Kevin Mawae: On behalf of the players in the National Football League, it’s a great day. We’re standing on the eve of the day when football gets back to business. And our players can’t be more excited than going back and doing the thing they love the most. We always said throughout this process that we would do a deal when it’s the right deal and our players did that. We’ve stuck it out til the end. We fought for our ground and we worked with the owners to get a deal that we feel is fair for everybody. We’re excited about today. We’re thankful for De and for Roger and for their leadership of our groups. I’m thankful that our players have stood together. We stood strong at a time of uncertainty. But more importantly, I want to thank the fans. Through the rollercoaster rides, from two years out until today, you guys have stuck with us, and we’re here to tell you that football is back and it’s back for the long term and we’re excited about this season starting. And we couldn’t’ have done this without a strong Executive Committee, and our board of players. But I have to give a tip of the hat to Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth who since June 28 have not missed a meeting. A lot of credit goes to those guys for pounding it out and doing the dirty work for us.
Jeff Saturday: Just to echo what most of these men up here have said, I think the part that was most impressive to me was when players and owners began to sit across the table from each other and dialogue, things began to happen. To Kevin’s point and to Commissioner Goodell’s point, this is a fair deal that we’re excited to present to our players. We’re excited about the opportunity to get back on the field instead of being in these meeting rooms and be in football meeting rooms, which I’m a big fan of. I would be remiss if I didn’t say a special thanks, and I know Fox feels exactly the same way, to my wife and to every man’s wife who stood beside, and a special thanks to Myra Kraft who even in her weakest moment allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out and without him this deal does not get done. I don’t want to be climactic in any way, but he is a man who helped us save football and we are so gracious for that. We’re gracious for his family and for the opportunity he presented to get this deal done. Thank you very much. We really appreciate it.
Domonique Foxworth: I think it’s all pretty much been said. I feel the same way as Jeff. I have a tremendous amount of love for Jeff. The biggest thing that I needed to say is a great deal of appreciation for my wife who is taking care of our eight-month-old daughter and studying for the bar at the same time allowing me to be here. Other than that, I think they just put me up here for eye candy because obviously I’m more attractive than anyone else who has been up here. I just like pissing De off as much as possible. I’m done guys. Thanks a lot.
DeMaurice Smith: Thank you. We have a little bit of time for questions between the two of us but before we do that, I want to say thanks to everybody who’s been involved with this. It’s been a very long process. Like I said, there’s a next step for us to reconstitute as a union. There are issues we need to address very quickly — issues of health, safety, benefits, other collectively-bargained issues that we have addressed back in March but really haven’t addressed thus far. I know and I have a great deal of confidence that both sides are going to engage and take that process with the sobriety and the good faith that we have shown over the past few months to get this deal done.
Last two things to echo what Jeff said about Mr. Kraft, we couldn’t have done it without you. We took a day off on Friday to remember a great woman and her great family. I’m thankful for what she meant to the city of Boston. I’m especially thankful for what you mean to the game of football. And to my wife, there’s going to come a time when I’m not going to be on the road. I don’t know whether she thinks that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but there’s going to be a time when daddy is going to be home.
Below is a transcript of the press conference following today’s NFL meeting in Atlanta. At the meeting, NFL clubs approved the terms of a comprehensive settlement of litigation and a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.
NFL press conference at league meeting in Atlanta
July 21, 2011
Commissioner Goodell: Good afternoon. The clubs approved an agreement that was negotiated with the players this afternoon. In addition to approving that agreement, we also approved a supplemental revenue sharing system for the next 10 years. With this ratification and with the ratification of the NFLPA board, we will be prepared to open the training facilities beginning on Saturday, this Saturday. We will then be prepared to start the new league year next Wednesday subject to the full membership of the players ratifying the agreement and recertifying as a union. Obviously you know that we’re all under a time constraint. That’s one of the reasons we worked to get this agreement completed tonight.
We are unfortunately going to have to cancel the Hall of Fame Game this year. The time is just too short and we feel that it’s important for all 32 teams to be operating with the same number of preseason games and also starting camp at the same date or near the same date. Unfortunately we will not be there to play the game this year, but of course the (induction) ceremonies will go on. Hopefully we can all work quickly, expeditiously and get this agreement done. It is time to get back to football. That is what everyone here wants to do. We will allow our chairman, Mr. (Jerry) Richardson, who did an outstanding job, to say a few words. Before I do and before we take questions and hear from Mr. Richardson, let me just tell you how hard I think everybody in the NFL, how hard the players, how hard DeMaurice Smith worked. They’ve done an outstanding job. I think we’ve crafted a long-term agreement that can be good for the game of football. It’ll be good for the players, good for the clubs, and most importantly good for our game and for our fans. We really are anxious to get back to football. Hopefully today’s development and the developments of the NFLPA over the next few days will ensure that. I’ll hand it off to Mr. Richardson.
Jerry Richardson: Thank you, Commissioner. We all know this journey began in May 2008. It’s been long. At times it’s been very, very difficult. We’re happy to say and we feel very good about the fact that we’re confident that the players and the teams have arrived at a good place. We think we have a fair, balanced agreement. It has been a joy for me personally during these negotiations to have close contact with the players. They have been tremendous. We’ve ended up, we feel, in a very good place. Thank you.
On the situation with the NFLPA’s impending recertification as a union:
Goodell: Those are decisions that ultimately have to be made by the union about what their process is going to be and their timeline. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a sense of urgency to this. We want to have a full 2011 season that includes the four preseason games, and we’re up against the wall. I think that’s indicated by the unfortunate cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game.
On whether or not there were conversations with the NFLPA about the owners’ vote:
Goodell: Yes. I just spoke to DeMaurice probably 20 minutes ago. He’s going to go take care of his business.
On whether or not he’s “relieved” or in “wait-and-see” mode:
Goodell: I think maybe the word is exhaustion. We’ve all been working very hard. The members of the CEC, Jeff Pash, who was our lead negotiator for the owners, it’s been an incredible effort. As we indicated earlier, the players have worked equally as hard, and I think have done a fantastic job of coming up with an agreement that’s sensitive to their issues, strikes a balance between what I think are very important issues with player health and safety and the work rules, putting together the right kind of agreement that works for our retired players and also works for the growth of our game going forward and encouraging investment in our game. I think it’s an outstanding agreement from that standpoint.
On the final issues that needed to be resolved today:
Goodell: Well, you work through it like you do any other issue. You address them. You try to understand the issues, and you try to come up with a resolution. We’ve essentially had the core of an agreement for well over a week, as you all know. What we tried to do is make sure our ownership fully understood that today. They understood all ramifications, put in a supplemental revenue sharing system that I think will be good for all clubs that will continue to have the competitive balance that the league is famous for and make sure we continue the great game of football.
On what his message is to fans who have been waiting for this to be resolved:
Goodell: I understand their frustration. I hope they understand that we’re working hard to get that agreement that is going to secure the game of football for the future. We have a 10-year agreement, which I think is going to be great for everyone involved in the game, number one our fans. So I guess I’d say to them, we’re getting close to getting football back, and that’s what we want. We want to get started with football.
On whether or not this agreement will run through the 2020 season:
Goodell: That is correct.
NFL clubs approved today the terms of a comprehensive settlement of litigation and a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.
The vote was taken at a league meeting in Atlanta where the clubs were briefed on the terms of the agreement and the rules for the transition into the new League Year. The agreement must be ratified by the NFL Players Association in order for the league year to begin.
“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.
“On behalf of the NFL, our teams and players, I want to express our deep appreciation to Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. Judge Boylan was the court-appointed mediator, but his contributions far exceeded that role. His patience, determination, and commitment helped keep everyone focused on the goal, and helped lead us to today’s announcement.”
The NFL announced that players can begin voluntary workouts at club facilities on July 23 if the NFLPA Executive Board approves the settlement terms. Following the reconstitution of the NFLPA as a union and approval of the new CBA by the NFLPA membership, the League Year and free agency signings will start at 2:00 PM ET on July 27 and training camps for all teams will open on July 27. Day one activities will be limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. Players will practice without pads on days two and three.
As part of the transition rules for the 2011 League Year, the parties have agreed that the CBA’s specified deadlines for certain free agency contract tenders will be delayed to the dates indicated below. For example, the deadline for the CBA’s “June 1 Tender” to Unrestricted Free Agents will be changed from June 1 to August 12.
Following are key dates on the revised 2011 League Calendar, contingent upon ratification of the agreement by the players prior to these dates:
July 23 Voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction permitted until first day of clubs’ preseason training camps.
July 23 Pre-2011 League Year Period commences. 2011 Free Agency List to be issued and will become effective on the first day of the 2011 League Year (July 27). Clubs/players may begin to renegotiate contracts. Clubs may begin to sign Drafted Rookies and their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players.
July 23 Waivers begin for the 2011 League Year.
July 23 Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, Undrafted Rookie Free Agents, free agents, and other clubs’ UFAs, RFAs, and Franchise Players.
July 24 Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents.
July 27 2011 League Year commences at 2:00 PM ET, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Free Agency Signing Period begins. Clubs may sign free agents and other clubs’ Unrestricted Free Agents. Clubs may sign Offer Sheets. Trading period begins. All Clubs must be under the Salary Cap. Top 51 rule applies.
July 27 Expand rosters to 90-man limit.
July 27 Training Camps open for all clubs, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Day One activities limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. No pads permitted on Day Two or Day Three.
August 9 Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an Accrued Season for free agency.
August 11-15 First Preseason Weekend
August 12 Deadline for signing of Offer Sheets by Restricted Free Agents. (17-day period concludes)
August 12 Deadline for June 1 Tender to Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a Player Contract with a Club by August 26, he may negotiate or sign a Player Contract from August 26 until the Tuesday following the tenth week of the regular season, at 4:00 PM ET, only with his Prior Club.
August 12 Deadline: if a Drafted Rookie has not signed a Player Contract by this date, he cannot be traded during his initial League Year and may sign a Player Contract only with the drafting Club until the day of the Draft in the next League Year.
August 13-17 Each Club has until five days prior to its second preseason game to provide any tendered but unsigned Exclusive Rights Player or Restricted Free Agent with written notice of the Club’s intent to place the player on the Exempt List if the player fails to report at least the day before the Club’s second preseason game.
August 16 Deadline for Prior Club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents. (Four-day matching period conlcudes)
August 17 Deadline for June 1 Tender to Restricted Free Agents who have received a Qualifying Offer for a Right of First Refusal Only.
August 18-22 Second Preseason Weekend.
August 25-28 Third Preseason Weekend.
August 26 Signing Period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents who received the June 1 Tender.
August 29 Deadline for June 15 Tender to Restricted Free Agents. If player’s Qualifying Offer is greater than 110% of the player’s prior year’s Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior year contract carried forward unchanged), the Club may withdraw the Qualifying Offer on August 29 and retain its exclusive negotiating rights to the player, so long as the Club immediately tenders the player a one-year Player Contract of at least 110% of his prior year’s Paragraph 5 Salary, with all the terms of his prior year’s contract carried forward unchanged.
August 30 Clubs reduce rosters from 90 players to 75 players.
September 1-2 Fourth Preseason Weekend.
September 3 Clubs reduce rosters to 53 players.
September 8-12 First Regular-Season Weekend.
September 18-19 Second Regular-Season Weekend
September 20 Deadline at 4:00 PM ET for any Club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension.
If approved by the players, the new collective bargaining agreement will include the following key terms:
- The fixed term of the agreement covers the 2011 through 2020 seasons and includes the 2021 draft.
PLAYER HEALTH AND SAFETY:
- Immediate implementation of changes to promote player health and safety by:
- Reducing the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 to 10;
- Limiting on-field practice time and contact;
- Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season;
- Increasing number of days off for players.
- Opportunity for current players to remain in the player medical plan for life.
- An enhanced injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player’s salary for the contract year after his injury and up to $500,000 in the second year after his injury.
- No change to the 16-4 season format until at least 2013; any subsequent increase in the number of regular-season games must be made by agreement with the NFL Players Association.
- $50 million per year joint fund for medical research, healthcare programs, and NFL Charities, including NFLPA-related charities.
RETIRED PLAYER BENEFITS:
- Over the next 10 years, additional funding for retiree benefits of between $900 million and $1 billion. The largest single amount, $620 million, will be used for a new “Legacy Fund,” which will be devoted to increasing pensions for pre-1993 retirees.
- Other improvements will be made to post-career medical options, the disability plan, the 88 Plan, career transition and degree completion programs, and the Player Care Plan.
DRAFT/FREE AGENCY SYSTEM:
- An annual Draft of seven rounds plus compensatory picks for teams which lose free agents.
- Unrestricted free agency for players after four accrued seasons; restricted free agency for players with three accrued seasons.
- Free agency exceptions (franchise and transition players).
ENTRY LEVEL COMPENSATION SYSTEM:
- New entry-level compensation system including the following elements:
- All drafted players sign four-year contracts.
- Undrafted free agents sign three-year contracts.
- Maximum total compensation per draft class.
- Limited contract terms.
- Strong anti-holdout rules.
- Clubs have option to extend the contract of a first-round draftee for a fifth year, based on agreed-upon tender amounts.
- Creation of new fund to redistribute, beginning in 2012, savings from new rookie pay system to current and retired player benefits and a veteran player performance pool.
- Salary cap plus benefits of $142.4 million per club in 2011 ($120.375 million for salary and bonus) and at least that amount in 2012 and 2013.
- Beginning in 2012, salary cap to be set based on a combined share of “all revenue,” a new model differentiated by revenue source with no expense reductions. Players will receive 55 percent of national media revenue, 45 percent of NFL Ventures revenue, and 40 percent of local club revenue.
- Beginning in 2012, annual “true up” to reflect revenue increases or decreases versus projections.
- Clubs receive credit for actual stadium investment and up to 1.5 percent of revenue each year.
- Player share must average at least 47 percent for the 10-year term of the agreement.
- League-wide commitment to cash spending of 99 percent of the cap in 2011 and 2012.
- For the 2013-2016 seasons, and again for the 2017-2020 seasons, the clubs collectively will commit to cash spending of at least 95 percent of the cap.
- Each club committed to cash spending of 89 percent of the cap from 2013-2016 and 2017-2020.
- Increases to minimum salaries of 10 percent in Year 1 with continuing increases each year of the agreement.
2011-2012 TRANSITION RULES:
- Special transition rules to protect veteran players in 2011. All teams will have approximately $3.5 million in what would otherwise be performance-based pay available to fund veteran player salaries.
- Each club may “borrow” up to $3 million in cap room from a future year, which may be used to support veteran player costs.
- In 2012, each club may “borrow” up to $1.5 million in cap room from a future year. Both these amounts would be repaid in future years.
- No judicial oversight of the agreement. Neutral arbitrators jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA will resolve disputes as appropriate.
- Settlement of all pending litigation.
# # #
Following is a transcript of NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash’s media briefing today at league meetings in Atlanta:
NFL EVP Jeff Pash at league meeting in Atlanta
July 20, 2011
“Our labor committee met today for the better part of five hours. We had a very thorough review of the status of the negotiations, of the underlying legal issues, of the economics of the proposed agreement and where we stand in terms of our own process and what we see going forward. It was a very thorough discussion. I think the committee is fully briefed and we are prepared to review these matters with the ownership tomorrow morning when we get together at around 10 AM.”
On impact of players not voting today:
“It doesn’t impact it at all. We’re going to continue to work with the players. We’ll find out if there are issues that still need to be negotiated and we’re going to work cooperatively with them through the evening and try to have something in place that both sides can vote on tomorrow morning.”
On if clubs can ratify an agreement if players haven’t voted:
“Ratification is an independent process by each side, just as they could ratify something if we haven’t voted. So, I assume we could do so.”
On if the plan is to have both sides vote tomorrow:
“Absolutely. At some point.”
On if they need to see the union recertify before they vote:
“No. We would expect that this will be a comprehensive labor agreement though before all is said and done.”
On his level of optimism:
“It’s cautious. But I think we’re making progress, I think we’ve worked well together over the past several weeks. The staffs and the attorneys have been making a lot of progress on the documentation and the language issues. It’s obviously a complicated agreement, but I think both sides are at the point where they can close, they should close and we should be in a position to take votes.”
On if there were conversations back and forth with NFLPA:
“Yes. There were conversations with the representatives of the players’ association today.”
On if he was taken aback that there was no vote by players today:
Maybe just too much to sift through?
“I can’t speak for what was going on in their caucus, but it’s a long, complicated agreement and there are a lot of issues. We’re talking about entering into an agreement that would last for quite a few years, hopefully bring a lot of stability to our relationship for many years to come and understandably that is something that people want to take their time and think through.”
On remaining issues regarding the plaintiffs in the antitrust case:
“I shouldn’t think there are any. Not to us. I can’t speak for them.”
On if they would go into an agreement with the players if some of players opted out of the settlement and the antitrust case remained:
“I don’t think that’s likely to happen. I think we’re going to have an agreement that all clubs will be a part of and that all players will be a part of. That’s my expectation.”
On a global settlement:
“All of the litigation goes away. I think that’s the healthy outcome is to have a complete, comprehensive, global agreement that settles all of the disputes and puts us on a path where we’re going forward together as business partners the way it should be. Rather than we’re going forward with one hand and fighting over something that should be in the past.”
On if the Hall of Fame Game is still on the books:
“I hope so. We’ll see. It’s getting tight. It’s getting pretty tight. It would be pretty challenging so that is one of the things we’ll have to focus on.”
On if the agenda in Atlanta has changed:
“Our agenda here has not changed. No.”
On a schedule to get everything in place should a vote happen tomorrow:
“We’ve been talking about what a calendar would look like for resuming: when players would come in, when the new league year would open and when free agency would start. Obviously all of that is going to depend on what schedule there is for ratifying the agreement and making sure that all of the steps that have to take place before the new league year can begin have in fact occurred.”
On if all of that can be done tomorrow:
“I think it’s probably aggressive to think that it can be done tomorrow, but it could be done in a relatively short period of time, we think.”
The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues. Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspects of the negotiations. We will provide additional information as developments in this process continue.
While we respect the court’s decision, today’s ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season.
A number of recent reports have incorrectly stated that players do not share in preseason revenue. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.com correctly explains the misunderstood issue in a July 3 story entitled “Lost preseason hurts players financially, too.”
“We’ve seen and heard more than a few media members suggest that a lost preseason causes only the owners to lose significant dollars because the players don’t get game checks until the regular season begins,” Florio writes. “It’s not an accurate characterization of the true consequences of a canceled slate of exhibition games.
“As NFL spokesman Greg Aiello pointed out earlier this week on Twitter, the revenue generated during the preseason funds the salary cap, which in turn funds those game checks. In other words, the game checks are higher than they otherwise would be, given the inclusion of roughly $800 million per year into the pot of total revenue.
“Assuming that the players get a 48-percent share of all revenue under a new CBA, a lost preseason would equate to $384 million in losses for the players, and $416 million in losses for the owners.”
“There’s an equal incentive for both parties to save the preseason,” Florio concludes. “Meaningless to the rest of us, those non-game games with the full-price tickets and network ratings that outperform regular-season baseball have great meaning not only to the owners, but also to the players. Even if the players don’t truly get paid for those games until September.”