As the owners continue to meet in Chicago, details of the deal being discussed are starting to emerge. Now, it's important to note that none of this has been agreed upon yet, and that things will undoubtedly change between now and whenever a deal will be signed. Still, it's interesting to see the terms. The players previously received 60% of all revenue, but the owners got $1 Billion off the top before that split was calculated. In practice this came down to the players receiving 53% of all revenue, which will now move to 48%. Whether this is enough to get a deal done that can last for a long time is impossible to say right now, of course. But it does seem like this is good enough to get a deal done within a couple of weeks. A rookie wage scale will supposedly be part of the deal, but details about that are lacking.
In addition, the salary floor will be set at "close to 100%" of the salary cap in cash spending, different from salary floors of recent years which were based on complicated cap economics that didn't correlate to actual cash spending. While ESPN is reporting that the salary floor will be close to 100% of the salary cap, AP is reporting that it will be set at 90% instead. Regardless, that's an increase over previous amounts.
Other details are more interesting, though. An 18-game season is designated a negotiable item, but will not be forced and likely won't get done in the near future, if at all. However, the NFL is likely to add a 16-game Thursday Night package. So prepare for Thursday Night Football, every week.
One last point of interest is the years of accrued service needed for players to reach unrestricted free agency. As I wrote before, this will be key in determining the quality of this year's free agency class. Last season every player with fewer than 6 years of accrued service was a restricted free agent, leaving a lot of established players stranded with their teams. This lead to some ugly holdouts by star players, including Patriots G Logan Mankins, Chargers T Marcus McNeill and Chargers WR Vincent Jackson - and Bucs T Donald Penn for a while, too. But in years prior, 4 years of service was enough to be an unrestricted free agent, and the league is going back to that.
For the Bucs this would mean Davin Joseph, Barrett Ruud, Quincy Black, Jeremy Trueblood, Stylez White, Cadillac Williams, Adam Hayward, Michael Spurlock, John Gilmore, Maurice Stovall and Niko Koutouvides will all be free agents. With that salary floor, the Bucs will be forced to re-sign a number of these players, or go out and sign players in a loaded free agency class.