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Is The NFL CBA As Bad For Players As Some Agents Suggest?

A recent column by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe questions NFLPA leadership concerning the latest round of collective bargaining negotiations.
A recent column by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe questions NFLPA leadership concerning the latest round of collective bargaining negotiations.

The article that caught the attention of football agents this past weekend was written by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe and titled, NFL owners destroyed the players in CBA negotiations.  Yes, that is certainly a title penned with the clear intention to inflame, and it got a lot of agents talking about what they believe to be the unfortunate position many of their clients currently find themselves in.

The gist of Volin’s article is that NFL teams are making ridiculous amounts of money while young players are signing unfavorable contracts and veterans are getting priced out of the league.  It led one football agent to tell Volin, “The NFLPA absolutely failed the NFL players.  It’s the worst CBA in professional sports history. It’s pushing the veterans out of the game and cuts the rookie pay in half. How is that a good deal?”

Another agent said, “[NFLPA Executive Director] De Smith was a slick trial lawyer who came in and sold the players on a fancy PowerPoint presentation. Ninety-eight percent of the players have no understanding how bad this deal is.”

Yet, Mike Florio of seems to think that Volin and the agents he quoted are exaggerating the negative consequences that the last round of CBA negotiations had for players.  Florio offers up ten reasons why the newest version of the CBA is not as bad as advertised.  Those points are abbreviated, below.

1. The alternative to a new CBA was not an option – players were not ready to forfeit game checks during a legal battle against the league.

2. Agents don’t care about the increase in benefits as much as their clients may.

3. The cash portion of the salary cap actually is projected to increase.

4. Non-first round picks are doing better in the new system.

5. Second half of the first round picks won’t be harmed either.

6. Second contracts will likely be better for those who make it that far.

7. Minimum cash expenditure requirement will get better with time.

8. First round studs under new CBA will shortly begin to get big-time second contracts.

9. Volin’s use of the Green Bay Packers as a representative example of the league is flawed.

10. Reduced practice time and intensity was a big win for the players (also something agents discount).

Florio still admits that the players did not “win” the past round of CBA negotiations, but he says it was not a “blowout.”  I have to question what the players’ best alternative to a negotiated agreement may have been.  Florio’s first point resonates with me.  I just don’t think the players, as a whole, were ready to forego payments and deal with lengthy, contentious litigation.  Anyhow, this is the state of the NFL and the bickering that goes down behind closed doors.


By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.