It’s never too early to think about the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In fact, it’s already on the mind of the NFLPA’s executive director DeMaurice Smith, who told Albert Breer of SI.com’s The MMQB a possible work stoppage seems likely in 2021.
“I think that the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout in ’21 is almost a virtual certainty,” Smith said in a video interview you can watch here.
If history is any indication, a labor dispute is inevitable. To be clear, just because Smith believes a work stoppage is inevitable doesn’t mean there won’t be football. Labor disputes in pro spots rarely result in lockouts or strikes, though it’s not something that should be ruled out altogether. After all, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman suggested a player strike could help players get the larger contracts they seek after watching the NBA go on a billion dollar spending spree during free agency in July.
As for Smith, he wouldn’t commit to the possibility of missing games because of a labor dispute, but it certainly can’t be out of the equation considering how contentious things have been and could be down the line for both sides. The lockout in 2011 didn’t lead to any missed games, with players and the league coming to an agreement in July to put an end to the madness before it could get started. So, it’s not as though the two sides haven’t worked together to avoid the catastrophe of missed games before.
It just seems like perhaps the NFLPA might want to play a little more hardball this time around.
If the CBA isn’t renegotiated before 2021, Smith said the sides would be headed toward “a ‘small’ armageddon.” However, the NFL and NFLPA have ample time (four years) to work out the kinks, smooth the edges, get to the bargaining table, and come to an agreement both sides can mostly agree on. But knowing how these things usually go, it’s unlikely it will work out that way.