NFL Lockout: Mr. Bowlen Goes to Washington

Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen has arrived in Washington, D.C., for the continued negotiations between the NFL and NFL Players Association. Amidst rumors of deteriorating talks, Bowlen joins the eight other NFL Owners who sit on the NFL's labor committee, who will be present for today's meeting. Bowlen participated in past discussions via conference call, but will be in person Today, along with Denver Broncos President Joe Ellis.

Both sides have till 5pm EST Friday to work out a new deal or another extension of the current CBA. Pat Bowlen's presence and leadership as the Co-chair of the NFL's labor committee should offer some glimmer of optimism. The Denver Broncos have been the franchise most often to buck the trend for the past year, signing Chris Kuper, Elvis Dumervil, Kyle Orton, and Champ Bailey to contract extensions despite uncertainty for a 2011 season. The Broncos also have the most to loose competitively, with a new coach and quarterback controversy.

The elephant in the room at the CBA negotiations continues to be how Owners and Players split revenue. NFL Owners originally asked for another $1 billion dollars "off the top" before the money is split between Players and Owners. According to Mike Florio, that number has been reduced to $700 million "off the top," but the sides are still far off from a deal. The NFLPA is demanding full financial transparency from the league before they make a decision on the revenue split. Mike Freeman is reporting that some Owners are willing to open up the books, but one group of Owners have refused to do so, stalling further talks. If Owners do offer the full books, the negotiations would most likely have to be extended to allow time to review the information.

Another potential issue for months, has been adding two regular season games to the NFL schedule as a means to bring in more revenue for the league. Although sources say the NFL has yet to make a formal offer on an 18-game schedule, the NFLPA's Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has said that the NFLPA will not agree to a new CBA with an 18-game schedule.

Jason Cole has reported that the NFL and NFLPA have reached an agreement on a rookie wage scale. The scale would limit the guaranteed money offered to draft picks. The compromise would also mean 1st round draft picks would only be able to be signed to a maximum of four years, while later rounds would only be able to be signed to three year contracts. Despite Cole's report, other sources have reported that no such compromise has been made. NFL general counsel Jeff Pash has insisted that no deal is done until there is a final, all encompassing deal.

Both the NFL and NFLPA benefit from completing a deal, but it may take the pressure of the deadline to bring compromises out of either side. Jim Trotter reported on Monday:

With only five minutes to go before the union's deadline to decertify last Thursday -- a move that might have obliterated the NFL as we know it today -- a player walked into the negotiating room that included commissioner Roger Goodell, league attorney Jeff Pash, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Kevin Mawae and declared: "We're done! We're decertifying."

Obviously, cooler heads prevailed, and the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a CBA extension last Thursday. But fans should expect similar movement at Friday's deadline before significant compromise is made on a new agreement.

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