Bisciotti: Time To Get CBA Done

He isn’t part of the owners’ negotiating group, but Steve Bisciotti wants the CBA done.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti revealed that he is not on the NFL committee of negotiators working to resolve the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players’ Association.

Bisciotti is optimistic that a new CBA can be reached by its March 4 expiration, but he also believes the union and owners should start meeting soon and often.

“It’s not a fight that we should be taking to the public,” Bisciotti said after Thursday’s “Season Review” press conference.  “I don’t think there’s an argument on either side that is going to put us in a good light to buy these tickets and root for us.  I think we ought to shut up and get behind closed doors and keep banging until we get this thing done.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell agrees.

Goodell met with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on Wednesday and came away from it suggesting talks will need to continue non-stop if a new deal is to be reached by the deadline.

“There are meetings going on,” said Ravens President Dick Cass.  “There is still time left to get a deal done before March 4.  I think there is time if there’s a willingness to get together and compromise.  I have no idea if it will be done.”

There are sundry issues at stake.  An 18-game season, rookie wage scale, retired player benefits and the salary cap are all at the top of the list.

But perhaps most glaring are the percentage points the league wants to divert away from player payroll as revenues have grown exponentially over the past couple of years.

“When you talk about the labor being 60 percent, what is not clear is that labor is more like 80 percent here by the time you pay the other 140 employees,” said Bisciotti, who thinks a salary cap is all but certain for the next CBA.  “And, I think you’d be hard pressed to find any other industry that has labor costs of 80 percent. It just doesn’t happen. The health of the league, by definition, by your definition, is the revenues keep going up.

“But, if expenses keep rising at a higher percentage… If you were a public company, your stock would be going backward, and that’s what we’re trying to protect against.”

From a football standpoint, all teams will be affected by the way a work stoppage limits the amount of free agents you can sign or re-sign, minicamps and team strength and conditioning programs.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome predicted that the draft class of 2010 will be hurt the most without a full offseason of training, while Head Coach John Harbaugh is formulating a plan to
hit the ground running when teams can again interact with players.

“The challenge for us is to put some plans in place to be better than the other 31 teams, or to try to, and come out ahead when we start playing games, and be the best team we can be,” said Harbaugh.  “As coaches and across the board, we’re going to try to find a way to do that. It’ll be challenging because it will be different.”

Bisciotti believes a deal will get done, citing player representatives, like Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth,  as a dependable movers behind the negotiations.

As Bisciotti noted, it might take until after the Super Bowl, when fans turn their focus to other sports.  But the sooner both sides progress, the better.

“I just have to have hope that a bunch of smart people on both sides of this argument are going to get it done,” said Bisciotti.  “So, I really have high hopes. I still believe that we’re going to have a full season next year.”

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