July 21, 2011

Owners Vote to Ratify Proposed CBA in Public Opinion Play

In Atlanta, outside the meetings, Tom Benson announced loudly to the press Thursday morning, "we're getting a deal done today!"

Perhaps that should have been our first tip off that the owners were intent on trying to put a cap on the long-tortured negotiations.

For whatever reasons, the players decided not to vote, leaving owners in limbo. The league could technical open up free agency in as little as six days, pending the recreation of the players union.

In an attempt to cool the public momentum, the players-side officials said they may need up to two weeks for their constituents to sign paper certification cards, 51% of which must be in favor of the union's new terms.  The players announced no immediate plans to take a vote.

The owners voted 31-0, with the Raiders contingent abstaining, to approve a draft of a collective bargaining agreement.  The players' continent representing the "trade association", who had planned to vote on the deal yesterday, further delayed their vote and have yet to recertify as a union.

Some NFL owners are apparently shocked that the players didn't vote to re-constitute the union under the new 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Online reports indicate that the owners gave the players a complete copy of the report they ratified, a fact refuted by the players' side.

The back and forth, intentional information leaks and media warfare has re-ignited.

"There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time," said DeMaurice Smith, president of the de-certified players union, now referring to itself as a "trade association."

"Todays nfl events so far not surprising. i was immediately skeptical when not one owner voted against it!! seemed odd to me," said soon-to-be free agent LB Scott Shanle on the social network Twitter.

Another soon-to-be free agent, Saints FB Heath Evans put the state of things more bluntly, "Here is what the "Real" fans need 2 know: The owners tried 2 slip many things n2 the CBA "they" voted on that were NEVER agreed 2! #PRPlay"

Many of the terms of the new proposed agreement are sure to come out in the future, and it is entirely possible that the players will not agree to this first approved CBA, forcing a re-draft and a second vote by the owners.

"There is no timetable for a vote to be held right now," Bills S George Wilson, a player rep, was quoted today.

Saints DL Jimmy Wilkerson wrote a message to soon-to-be Saint free agent LB Kawika Mitchell, saying "I can't understand the situation cause I don't get information that I need from our reps. ... the communication b/w reps & players need to b better. My info comes from espn. No email, phone call nothing"

Mitchell wrote: "I appreciate the great job our reps are doing. If "you're" angry... sorry. Be patient... It'll get figured out and the game will go on."

The Saints players are represented by Drew Brees and Jon Stinchcomb.

With player approval, the NFL is slated to start a "Pre-2011 League Year Period." On Saturday, "Clubs may begin to sign Drafted Rookies and their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players."

The new salary cap, set at $120.375 million, would take effect July 27, when the "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."

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