This appears to me a very good deal for both players, owners and fans. Of course they are not lowering ticket or merchandise prices but for fans the league may become even more competitive. Take a look at some of the key items I highlighted and i put in italics my comments. Players only have a few problems, with this deal (1) they don't like that they are being forced to re-certify the union by tuesday (2) some players want an opt-out after 7 years. (3) the re-certification also must be done before the parties can negotiate on misdeeds during the lockout and drug testing. these items must be collectively bargained to hold up in court and have anti-trust protection.
• 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.
• Also 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.
• Leaguewide commitment to cash spending of 99 percent of the cap in 2011 and 2012. (this means there is going to be a ton of cash that must be spent of free agency. some teams are at like $60mm, so they need to spend like $60mm before the end of the year. this is not a good sign for teams like the steelers who are trying to keep FAs, Ike may be offered like $13mm a year and nnamdi like $20mm a year. it's going to be a gold rush) (Also, keep in mind patriots are one of the lowest salary cap teams, they will probably give mankins a big contract but they may really get into FA like we have never seen before. not b/c it is their desire but the new rules will force them into this, one way or another they will have to spend the $ so why not on FAs?)
• 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. (this is going to add to parity, everyone will be within $5-7mm of each other's payroll until 2016)
• Each club will be committed to cash spending of 89 percent of the cap from 2013-2016 and 2017-2020. (at its worse, with a salary cap of $250mm or $300mm teams will have to cash spend within 11% of each other>>this is going to force a more competitive league and less second rate teams. at least i think?)
• Increases to minimum salaries of 10 percent in Year 1 with continuing increases each year of the agreement.
PLAYER AND HEALTH SAFETY (in my opinion, they are preparing to add games in the future by reducing contact during training camps and giving additional days off. they may also be trying to protect themselves from future concussion lawsuits like the one that 75 players just started)
• Reducing the offseason program by five weeks, reducing organized team activities 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. (PLEASE do not think the NFL is paying for lifetime healthcare, this just means that you can stay on the NFL plan and pay the premium (like COBRA for life). for players who do not get a job after retiring this should be much cheaper than getting an individual health policy)
• 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-game regular-season/4-game preseason 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, there will be 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 AND 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 for franchise and transition players.
ENTRY LEVEL COMPENSATION SYSTEM
• 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. (great idea i believe)
• 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. (probably everyone agrees on this)
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. (not a lot of room here, but it is a bone thrown in for teams that are at or over the cap)
• 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. (NO more lawsuits, this can only be good for the fans)
• Settlement of all pending litigation (this was obvious from the start)
I think this is a good deal for the players b/c they continue to see big upside in a revenue pool that may double or triple in the next 10 years. This may not be a good deal for teams at or over the salary cap who are trying to re-sign their FAs but it will all even out over the next few years. With everyone spending the same money, the most talented coaches and draft evaluators will become that much more prominent.
Let's get this damned deal signed and delivered and start the coming FA madhouse.