Over the last couple of weeks, Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, and Jim Miller have shared their thoughts on the new NFL CBA on Bears All-Access. I've pooled together their thoughts along with a few of the Bears' players to let you know how the Chicago Bears are feeling about the new deal.
On their March 6th episode, all three hosts weighed in on the situation. "The big money guys are putting a no on it, for the most part, unless I'm mistaken. And there's a bunch of guys that are looking out for everybody league-wide because there's a greater number of players that don't make that kind of dough that will benefit from this new deal as much as we know about it," said Joniak.
Jim Miller responded: "Yeah, and it's gonna be more than the 1,900 players that get to vote on it because even though a player may not have played last year, he may have still paid union dues. Maybe he was on a team for a couple of games, got released, and still has the right to vote. So they think there's an estimate of up to 2,500 players that could vote on this, and if that's the case, Jeff, it would lean towards the rank in files. Numbers would be there in terms of passing this."
Miller also added how the high-priced players "didn't want a 17th game, there's no doubt about that." He also noted there would be fewer suspensions for certain drug tests and that it's an 11-year deal without an out clause. What happens if the revenue changes greatly in year five of the deal? The players wouldn't have any leverage to renegotiate. Miller also breaks down why the 'rank and file' members will vote yes to the deal. "If an average career is three to four years, so imagine a four-year career, and you're locked out and you don't have any earnings or paychecks coming in. You could potentially lose a quarter of your career, as an NFL player, your earnings."
Tom Thayer is a little more skeptical about the situation. He talks about the amount of information each player needs to process to be educated on the subject. The proposed CBA has upwards of 450 pages involved in the contract. "How many of the guys are realistically going to read this thing page for page? And then when they're taking the advice from their advisor, is it an advisor that has the advisor's best interest at hand or it the advisor has the player's best interest at hand?" Tom Thayer doesn't think there is enough time to make an educated decision on the matter at hand, and this has shown to be true now that the vote has been pushed back to Saturday.
Some of the Chicago Bears players have also weighed in on the new deal. Clearly, Jim Miller was right when he said top dogs don't want to play that 17th game. Here is how Allen Robinson responded to the idea of an 18th game.
Robinson has been one of the more vocal members of the Bears regarding the new deal. He has also tweeted they should "rip it up," and remove the franchise tag from the new CBA. Obviously, each team only gets one franchise tag and one transition tag. If the new deal passes, the transition tag will be removed. The franchise tag carries will get a player top-tier money at their position for only one season. Most players don't have to worry about this, but someone like Robinson might have to. Think about how the Redskins handled Kirk Cousins and how the Steelers handled Le'Veon Bell. If a player is in line for a big-time contract and he is injured under the franchise tag, he will ultimately forfeit a lot of guaranteed money in the future.
Former Bear and Players Association rep Sam Acho went on NFL Network to explain his stance on the issue.
Acho is voting yes to the new deal. He explains how far the NFLPA has come but also how much leverage the NFL owners have as well. He doesn't believe the players would survive a strike. He also states that if you strike, "you strike to win," but he adds a few points. What if the strike doesn't go well and the owners get all the leverage? If the owners get the leverage, he fears that the revenue share could go from the proposed increase of over 48% could go down as far as 42%. If this scenario were to play out, players would get screwed on a whole other level. Acho advises players to get with their reps and ask all the questions needed for them to make an informed vote.
Yesterday, the All-Access boys released another podcast and weighed in on the situation again. Russell Okung, a committee member of the NFLPA, accused executive director of DeMaurice Smith of trying to push the deal through without listening to the objections of the players. Jim Miller didn't like this comment whatsoever. "They've been negotiating for over 300 days, what's been in bad faith?" Miller said. He doesn't like how this came out at the last minute after all the negotiations. "All those players have been informed, every player has been sent the file and any information they have requested." Miller thinks that Okung's statements were "disingenuous at best," and Tom Thayer seems to agree.
They also had Javon Wims and Buster Skrine come on the show to discuss their thoughts on the proposed deal. "I'm just keeping an eye on it, just getting more information from the older guys. You know, whenever it's time to make decisions. I haven't been too deep involved in it but I've been keeping a good enough eye on it," said Javon Wims. Wims is only in his third year, and he said he didn't worry about the matters at hand until his second year in the NFL.
Buster Skrine has been around for a while and he has a little more insight on the situation. "Alright so me as a player, I'm a vet, I know if we don't sign the deal it won't hurt guys like me, the veterans that have been paid... just to be clear, a little of this feels cloudy to me, but from my understanding, if we do sign the other deal, where you play 18 games, the young guys will make less money. For me I'm old school, like let's get the deal done," Skrine said. Even a veteran entering his tenth season isn't 100% clear on everything that is happening. It echoes what Tom Thayer said in last week's episode. Are the players informed enough about this decision?
Soon enough the wait will be over, and the new deal will have a yes or no vote. If it doesn't pass, 2020 will operate under the old CBA. If it does, teams will no longer be allowed to use their transition tag. This is why the tagging deadline has been extended to Monday. There is now a one-minute difference between the ending of the tagging window and the start of the legal tampering period. It seems like it will pass, but if it doesn't, the NFL has stated they will not sign a new deal during the 2020 season.