Reporting Tim Kephart
CHICAGO (CBSMiami.com) – As Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross continues to meet with his 31 fellow team owners, the news is coming fast and furious about the structure of a possible new CBA and specifics regarding player contracts.
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, NFL players would “receive 48 percent of all revenue and will never dip below a 46.5 percent take of the money.”
Mortensen said the long-awaited rookie wage scale would be included in the deal, though that part of the CBA was still being “tweaked.” In addition, an 18-game schedule would be negotiable later in the deal, but is not mandated.
And to add to the revenue stream coming into the league, a new 16-game Thursday night TV package will be offered starting in 2012.
Owners will also contribute more to retired players and their health care, and will be required to spend 90-93 percent of the salary cap on player salaries, according to ESPN.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, players with a minimum of 4-years experience in the league and whose contract has expired will be eligible for unrestricted free agency. In addition, the franchise tag is expected to be kept in the new CBA.
The players can justify taking less than 50 percent of the overall money because the revenue for the league is expected to double by 2016 to almost $18 billion.
But, before getting too excited, Goodell has to sell the package to at least 24 NFL owners during the Tuesday meetings in Chicago. The last time the owners got together was before several rounds of not-so-secret sessions between the owners and players started.
If the two sides are to reach a deal and not miss any training camp or preseason games, an agreement has to be completed by July 15, though the earlier the better would insure all off-season activities. After the 15th, training camp and preseason games are at risk of being canceled.
But the bigger issue for teams like the Dolphins is the opening of free agency. With the unrestricted free agency rules reverting back to pre-2010 levels, it means many restricted free agents tendered during the days leading up to the lockout will become unrestricted free agents.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said the opening of free agency will be wild, but that may be a massive understatement. Assuming a new-CBA is struck by July 15, the NFL will likely give teams a few days to get their budgets for players in order.
Then, it’ll be all hands on deck for teams like the Dolphins as they try to round-out the roster.
The Dolphins are expected to be bidders on a veteran quarterback, possibly a wide receiver, a running back, and offensive lineman.
The Fins can target quarterbacks like Matt Moore, Marc Bulger, and possibly bring back Tyler Thigpen to give depth to the quarterback rotation.
At running back, the big prize will be DeAngelo Williams. While not an everyday back, Williams can work in tandem with a big, physical running back and make opponents pay. Another option could be Cedric Benson and Darren Sproles; and the Fins can always bring back either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams.
Wide receivers who could intrigue the Dolphins could include Steve Breaston, Malcolm Floyd, Santonio Holmes, Steve Smith (New York Giants), Mike Sims-Walker, and Brad Smith.
Of course all of this depends on the new rules from the CBA, which is still to be determined after Tuesday’s owners meeting in Chicago.