Despite agreeing to a 24-hour extension to the collective bargaining agreement, it is clear that the NFL will be forced into a lockout in the near future. The deadline is now midnight Friday, March 4, though there will only be one additional meeting on Friday and it seems clear that no settlement will be reached.
The first and foremost reason being that the two sides are so far from reaching an agreement that the 24-hour extension will just postpone the inevitable lockout.
The major issues continue to be the percentage cut of the overall revenue stream, the potential move to an 18-game season from the current 16-game format, and the rookie wage scale.
The revenue stream issue is the easiest to grasp for the average NFL fan, as it is obvious that each side wants a larger cut of the pie than the other. The revenue stream after the owners take their credit cut is around $9 billion. The current offer remains at 51-49 in favor of the owners, but the players are adamant in their fight for a 50-50 split.
The switch in schedule length is supported by the majority of owners, as it would increase their overall revenue greatly, while the NFL Player's Association is arguing against it due to the increased risk of injury.
The proposed change would shorten the preseason to only two games, so that players would still only play 20 games before the playoffs, but now two more are meaningful. Though this might increase the risk of injury for the players as they will play more physical games each season, it would also increase overall revenue by a projected $500 million.
Surely, the players could have their opinion swayed by the extra incentive of money. An increase in revenue would indirectly affect player salaries as it would increase the overall cap space of each NFL team and thus make them more open to offering larger contracts.
Speaking of contracts, the rookie wage scale is another topic of massive debate during these meetings. The issue is the immense contracts being given to rookie players and how to set up a wage scale for these top-tier prospects.
Both sides agree on some points of the newly proposed wage scale and disagree on others. The NFL and the NFLPA have generally agreed to shorten the maximum length of rookie contracts to four years for a first- to third-round pick and three years for a fourth- to seventh.
The issue emerges around the NFL's wish for an NBA-like slotting system, while the NFLPA has argued for salaries on a case-by-case basis.
Now, as a fan, this whole labor dispute may seem boring you as you are probably not well-versed in labor law. You may be thinking: How does an offseason lockout actually affect your favorite team and your favorite players?
The answer is...there will be little effect. An offseason lockout will have no real effect until the free-agency period begins, where it will stop teams from signing free agents.
The only issue with an offseason lockout is the fear of what it may lead to: the lack of an NFL season in 2011.
If NFL history can show us any precedent for the future, this lockout will be short, as there has not been an NFL lockout longer than two or three weeks.