No player vote yet on proposed deal
National Football League players left their headquarters in Washington yesterday without taking an expected formal vote on a potential collective bargaining agreement.
But the players and owners could still have a deal today.
“It’s obviously a complicated agreement, but I think both sides are at the point where they can close, they should close, and we should be in a position to take votes,’’ NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash told reporters in Atlanta, where owners will start deliberations this morning.
The 32 Players Association representatives did vote to conditionally forward the settlement proposal to the 10 plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL case, including Tom Brady and Logan Mankins of the Patriots, if some of the outstanding issues can be resolved.
What those issues are and how long it will take to resolve them is unknown. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith and his lawyers were expected to work last night over the telephone with commissioner Roger Goodell and his team to finish off the final details.
The biggest issue seemed to be the $320 million in benefits the players lost during the 2010 uncapped season.
But there is the lingering issue of settling with the Brady plaintiffs. While the representatives for quarterbacks Drew Brees and Peyton Manning backed off any potential settlement demands once word of the negotiations spread on Tuesday, Mankins and Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson are still thought to be seeking compensation.
The two players were called “a potential stumbling block’’ in an SI.com report that said despite public denials, the representatives for Jackson were still pushing for a settlement.
Mankins and Jackson had dropped their request for unrestricted free agency but were still seeking $10 million each to settle, according to a report on cbssports.com.
It is not known whether that could potentially hold up a deal. If Mankins and Jackson wanted to press the issue, they might have to drop out of the class-action lawsuit and fight on their own.
Pash said he didn’t think there were any lingering issues with the plaintiffs.
“I shouldn’t think there are any. Not to us,’’ he said. “I think we’re going to have an agreement that all clubs will be a part of and that all players will be a part of. That’s my expectation.’’
Meanwhile, owners continued to carry on full speed ahead to a vote today on the CBA. To approve the deal, 24 of the 32 have to vote in favor.
Any hang-up on the players’ side does not affect the owners, according to Pash.
“It doesn’t impact it at all,’’ he said. “We’re going to continue to work with the players. We’ll find out if there are issues that still need to be negotiated and we’re going to work cooperatively with them through the evening and try to have something in place that both sides can vote [today].
“Ratification is an independent process by each side, just as they could ratify something if we haven’t voted. So, I assume we could do so.’’
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, who is mourning the death of his mother, Myra, will attend today’s session in place of his father, owner Robert Kraft. Myra Kraft’s funeral is tomorrow morning. Someone else from the organization could cast the vote if there is a delay.
ESPN.com reported that owners and players agreed to three additional portions of the CBA yesterday.
If a player is injured and can’t continue his career, he would receive up to $1 million for the first year after injury, and up to $500,000 in the second, in addition to the balance of the salary he was due to be paid when he was injured.
Players also can choose to stay in the league-sponsored player medical plan for life.
And there will be an annual increase in minimum salaries: 10 percent for rookies and 12 percent for second-year players. The increases would continue each year under the proposed 10-year CBA.
The players were expected to take a vote yesterday, but it was the first time many had seen the document in its near-completed form.
“It’s a long, complicated agreement and there are a lot of issues,’’ Pash said. “We’re talking about entering into an agreement that would last for quite a few years, hopefully bring a lot of stability to our relationship for many years to come, and understandably that is something that people want to take their time and think through.’’
Earlier yesterday, union president Kevin Mawae said the players wouldn’t just rubber-stamp the proposed deal.
“We want to go back to work, but we will not agree to a deal unless it’s the best deal for the players,’’ Mawae said. “Our goal [was] to see what is on the table and discuss outlying issues. The players are not tied to a July 21 timeline. Our timeline is that which gives us the best deal for the players - today, tomorrow, or whatever it might be.’’