x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

NFL talks intensify as deadline day looms

NFL owners and the union representing players are back at the bargaining table and make some headway on a rookie wage scale but still stall on how to split US$9 billion in revenue.

WASHINGTON // NFL owners and the union representing players were back at the bargaining table yesterday and made some headway on a rookie wage scale but stalled on how to split US$9 billion (Dh33.05bn) in revenue.

The 14th day of mediated negotiations may have produced a breakthrough with reports the two sides reached an agreement on rookie wages which would include limits on length of contracts and guaranteed money.

But with a Friday deadline fast approaching, the main issue standing in the way of a new collective bargaining agreement remained firmly in place with NFL and NFL Players Association unable to make progress on how to carve up revenues.

The two sides spent part of yesterday haggling over the financial information that the league was willing to provide to the union.

According to league and union sources in a story posted on the NFL's official website, the NFL offered the NFLPA an aggregate of profitability over a five-year period at the league level.

The union has pushed for more information at the individual club level.

"There is a long way to go, but as long as we stay at it, we have a chance to get an agreement done," NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told the NFL Network.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II and owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs were among those representing the league.

NFL Players Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Kevin Mawae led the players' delegation.

The league, claiming costs have risen dramatically since the previous deal of 2006, wants to increase the amount it takes off the top by a $1bn to $2.3bn. That would shrink the players' share, which currently is about 60 per cent of remaining revenues.

League owners also want to increase the number of regular season games from 16 to 18 while cutting out two preseason games in order to raise more revenue.

The current bargaining agreement was originally set to expire last Thursday. But that was extended twice, first by a day, then by a week.

Without an agreement, owners most likely would lock out players from team facilities and free agents would be in limbo, affecting about 400 players.

A potential lockout by owners was expected to be met by court action from the players.