The NFL and NFLPA have conditionally ended the labor struggle that has held the NFL hostage for the past months. The owners voted 31-0 on a new CBA, with the Oakland Raiders (who else abstaining). This CBA would last through the 2020 football season with no option to opt out.
The lockout will end when the players agree to the deal, possibly as early as Saturday in the owners' schedule.. They have not done so yet, but are expected to do so quickly. At the same time, Jason La Canfora suggested that the players and NFL have not fully reached 'closure' yet on some details relating to the settlement of the lawsuits. It seems that the owners voted on a proposal that they were ready to accept, but that the players did not fully agree to.
Because of the short time left, the annual Hall of Fame preseason game will have to be cancelled this year.
While the lockout may end, free agency will not begin until the NFLPA has recertified, which would be Wednesday in the owners' proposal. The NFLPA is unable to immediately re-form because it needs votes, on paper, from a majority of players.
Teams would be able to re-sign any free agents with conditional contracts once the lockout is lifted, starting Saturday before free agency proper begins on Wednesday. Franchise tags and transition remain in place. In addition, teams will be allowed to negotiate with but not sign free agents starting Saturday. They will be allowed to sign undrafted rookie free agents starting Sunday.
Player health and safety have been addressed by significantly reducing the offseason program by five weeks, reducing OTAs to 10 per year, limiting on-field practice time and contact, limiting full-contact practices year-round and increasing the number of days off for players. In addition, players will be able to be in the NFL's medical plan for life, there will be extra injury protection in the form of salary. There will not be extra games until 2013 at the very earliest, with the NFLPA needing to agree on any expansion. $50 million per year will be earmarked for medical research, healthcare programs and charities.
Retired players will also get additional benefits, with between $900 million and $1 billion over the next ten years dedicated to retiree benefits. In addition, post-career medical options and different disability plans will be expanded and improved.
All rookies will sign four-year contracts, with first-rounders having a relatively expensive fifth-year option. There will be anti-holdout rules, though I'm not sure how that would work. There will not be a rookie wage scale, but the rookie cap will be smaller and impossible to get around, at least that's what the NFL hopes.
The salary cap will be based on 55 percent of national media revenue, 45% of 'NFL Ventures' revenue and 40% of local club revenue. There will be owner credits for stadium investments.In addition, the owners also approved a new revenue sharing plan, which was a large point of contention among owners and a big factor in these labor negotiations. Clubs will be allowed to 'borrow' $3 million from future years in 2011, and $1.5 million in 2012 to help them meet the salary cap and keep veteran players.
The 2011-2012 cash spending minimum will be 99% of the salary cap, which will be set at $120.375 million. After that, the minimum will fall to 95% league-wide, with individual clubs forced to spend at least 89% of the salary cap in cash. This will force the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to spend a significant amount of money, even more than projected previously. The Bucs will have to sign at least two highly-priced free agents and put a significant amount of money in the front-end of those deals.
You can read the NFL's full press release here.