By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
With the suddenly accelerating NFL labor talks moving to an undisclosed location here in Massachusetts on Wednesday,here are afew quick hits on what we've learned so far: 1. It's important to remember that the players are the ones giving something back here. The ownersfelt - rightly - that they got taken to the cleaners in 2006 and wanted the CBA reopened so that they could reshape the percentage of total revenue the players get. So the very fact that there will be some change in the owners' favor makes them "winners." But as the outline of the proposal comes into focus, it seems the players are not going to get beaten about the head and face in the new deal. 2. We've had so many numbers and percentages floated at us since the process began - 60-40, 50-50, 58-42 - it's hard to keep track of what exactly the numbers are. Here's the simplest explanation: The NFL reaps 9 billion in revenue. In the past, credits to the owners for spending on game growth totaling about 1 billion were taken off the top. Of the remaining 8 billion, the players took about 60 percent, the owners 40 percent. That meant the players got about 4.8 billion. That's 53 percent of the 9 billion. In the new proposed model, the players will get 48 percent. The foolish "1 billion off the top then start doing the math" is being tossed. If the revenue were still 9 billion, the players would get 4.3 billion. Yes, that's 500 million less, but remember, at the outset, the players said they'd take a 50-50 split. So the 48 percent works. Why? Read on. 3. ESPN seemed to be the first with the details of the proposal owners discussed on Tuesday. And one of the most beneficial to the players is that teams will be compelled to pay nearly to the salary cap. Previously, there was a "floor" that was significantly lower than the cap. For instance, in 2009, the salary cap was almost 128 million, but the floor was 112.1 million. In the new proposal, even if the salary cap drops to pre-2009 totals - say 120 million (by the way, owners wanted to make it 114 million in 2011 in their final proposal before the lockout), even the poor-mouth teams will be forced to pay close to the cap. The actual numbers aren't yet known. 4. The rising salary floor - and the fact the cap will likely remain in the 120 million range (and continue to rise) - could mean trouble for the lower-revenue teams like Cincinnati and Buffalo. Yes, all teams share in the lucrative TV deals and there will be a windfall when they are next renegotiated but the fiscal realities for places like Buffalo remain unchanged. They don't have a lucrative market to mine like the Patriots, Jets, Giants, Redskins and Cowboys.According to a Forbes study of team valuations in 2010, theCowboys had more than twice the total revenue of the Lions (420 million to 210 million).The cap gobbles up significantly more for those low-income teams, preventing them from realizing the same opportunities to improve their infrastructure, hire more employees, spend more on coaching and scouting. So the playing field will continue to tilt. And if the market isn't going to change in a place like Buffalo, it may be time to change markets. (Los Angeles?) 5. The fact that free agency will be granted after four years is no surprise. It's always been four years. The six-year free agency we saw in the uncapped year was a penalty to the players that was put into the last CBA to force negotiation before the CBA entered its walk year. Why would the owners expect the players to take a penal version of free agency in the new deal? I was surprised people were surprised by that news. 6. Good friend Don Banks of SI.com reported that the meetings in Chicago were short on specifics. Why? It seems that, while some aspects of the deal are locked down, many are still being hashed out and they didn't want factions to form among the owners over things that were still in the womb, so to speak. 7. In order for the proposal to pass with the owners, 24 of the 32 need to be in favor. For the players, it's a simple majority. 8. Prediction? Deal announced by July 8. Free agency begins July 12. Camps open on time.
By Tom E. Curran