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NFL Clubs Approve Comprehensive Agreement

Posted Jul 21, 2011

Approval came Thursday evening in Atlanta, Georgia

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

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

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

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:

TERM:

  • 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:

o   Reducing the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 to 10;

o   Limiting on-field practice time and contact;

o   Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season;

o   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:

o   All drafted players sign four-year contracts.

o   Undrafted free agents sign three-year contracts.

o   Maximum total compensation per draft class.

o   Limited contract terms.

o   Strong anti-holdout rules.

o   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.

ECONOMICS:

  • 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.

OTHER:

  • 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.

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