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NFLPA holding conference calls to discuss CBA negotiations

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The NFLPA is holding a series of membership-wide conference calls Thursday and Friday to update players around the league on the state of collective bargaining negotiations with the NFL, sources told ESPN.

The sources said Thursday that there are eight calls scheduled — one for each NFL division — and call-in information was distributed to every player in the league, not just the 32 team player representatives. It’s unclear how many players have participated or will participate in the calls, but the union sees this as a chance to speak to its full body of membership about the current CBA offer on the table, as well as the voting procedure by which the deal might eventually be ratified.

The current 10-year CBA proposal includes an option for the NFL to expand its regular season from 16 games to 17 games at some point during the life of the deal (likely sometime between the years 2021 and 2023) while also reducing the number of preseason games and expanding the playoffs to include more teams. Some high-profile player reps have spoken out against the idea of a 17-game season on the grounds that it adds health and safety risks to players in a sport that already includes plenty of them.

Sources familiar with the current proposal say it also includes concessions from the owners’ side on issues such as revenue split, higher minimum salaries, improved player benefits, relaxation of offseason and training camp workout rules, a revised drug policy and others. The questions the players are trying to answer among themselves, the sources said, is whether those concessions are enough to justify an expanded regular season, whether they need to go back to the owners with a counterproposal that asks for more concessions, or whether 17 games is a non-starter no matter what. The NFLPA hopes this week’s conference calls will give it an idea of where a broad cross-section of its members stands on those questions.

No hard deadline has been set for completion of a new CBA, as the current one doesn’t expire until March of 2021. But people on both sides are eager to get the deal done in time for the start of the 2020 league year March 18, so that elements of the new deal can be in place in time for this offseason. The NFL is also set to begin negotiations with its TV broadcast partners on new contracts, and the league and said TV broadcast partners would prefer as clear a picture as possible of the labor landscape before finalizing those deals. If no new CBA deal is reached this offseason, the possibility exists that negotiations could float into next offseason, which raises the possibility of a work stoppage in 2021.

The NFLPA’s rules require a two-thirds vote of its player representatives to approve a new CBA deal before it moves on to the next step, which is a vote by every player in the league. Once the vote gets to the full-membership stage, a simple majority of players is required to ratify the deal. Three-fourths of the league’s owners would then have to vote to approve the deal.

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Young Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds, whose wish was granted, dies

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TAMPA, Fla. — Kacey Reynolds, the 19-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan from Maysville, Georgia, whose wish was granted last year when he got to announce the Bucs’ 2019 first-round draft pick, has died after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, the team announced Sunday.

“We’re saddened by the passing of Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds. Our hearts go out to his family,” the Bucs tweeted, adding that he’ll “forever be part of the Buccaneers family.”

In addition to having Reynolds announce the pick, coach Bruce Arians, a two-time cancer survivor, called Reynolds and invited him and his parents Kenneth and Kelly Reynolds to fly back to Tampa with fifth-overall draft selection Devin White.

Reynolds took part in White’s introductory press conference, played pool with Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans and got to meet Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy.

Evans was actually the one who delivered the message to Reynolds via video at his school that he’d be making the draft pick.

“This one hurts man,” Evans tweeted. “You loved the squad regardless of the outcome. It was great getting to know you. RIP my friend.”



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After Ramsey tweets trade ideas, Lions CB Darius Slay says, “If it happens, it happens” – Detroit Lions Blog

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Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay said he doesn’t feel any different about possibly being traded — sticking with his stance he took back in October, when the Pro Bowler’s name was first floated for a possible trade.

On Sunday, he told ESPN “whatever happens, happens. I’m here to play ball,” when asked about the latest rumors about his future.

The 29-year-old said he figures there have been some discussions about his future and whether it would be in Detroit, but there haven’t been any substantive talks with him. Mostly, he sees those conversations on the internet and that things seem open for anything.

“I mean, they open for it so [the Lions] probably are having some talks,” Slay said. “Probably they just have to get the right, I’m guessing, whatever the right cost and then it can happen. That’s the only thing I can get from it, really. If they can get the right price for it, they’ll probably, most likely they do it.”

On Saturday night, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey suggested, in a tweet, that Slay should join him in L.A. Slay responded:

On Sunday, Slay would only say “if it happens, it happens.”

Slay has been the topic of trade conversations with the Lions since October, after Detroit dealt starting safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle at the deadline. He was outspoken about the trade then and said “nobody’s safe” when it comes to potentially being moved.

His name resurfaced as a possible trade target again last week when ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Lions were speaking with multiple teams about Slay but wanted to make sure they would get appropriate value in return for Slay, who is entering the final year of his deal in 2020.

Slay declined to say what he was looking for in a new contract, but his agent knows his worth and what he believes his worth is. He had previously tweeted that $15-to-$16 million per year might be too low.

Slay also said that he and his wife, Jennifer, have talked with their children about the possibility he won’t be playing for the Lions this year.

The three-time Pro Bowler also reiterated that he would like to play his entire career in Detroit, but understands the business side of the NFL as well.

“It’s a business so it should be looked at as a business aspect of it. If it was up to me, I would love to be here my whole career,” Slay said. “But one thing about a lot of stuff that comes, first is my family so I’ll do what’s best for my family, for them first and put my family in great position to never have to want for nothing.

“So that’s my goal, and if that’s being here, I’m here. If it ain’t, then I ain’t.”



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NFL player leadership remains divided over 17-game season

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NFL player leadership is still majorly divided over the thought of a 17-game season.

Player reps fell into three categories when discussing the proposed new Collective Bargaining Agreement, sources told ESPN — those who never want 17 games, those who will accept it with tweaks to the deal, and those who accept it as is.

Those reps held a conference call Friday and were set to vote on the deal, but getting the two-thirds majority was far from a slam dunk, a source said. NFLPA decided to postpone voting, giving all parties involved a few days to sleep on the proposal and meet at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

“Anything is possible at this point,” a source said.

The players are set to meet with NFL officials on Tuesday and could vote as early as Wednesday but hope to go back to owners and continue negotiations, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The owners have no intentions to renegotiate the offer, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, who also reports the NFLPA and NFL Management Council have pushed back the start of the franchise tag designation period from Tuesday, Feb. 25 to Thursday, Feb. 27. Teams will now have until March 12 to decide whether to tag a player. NFL teams currently have the option to tag two players (using either the franchise or transition tag), but a new CBA would limit teams to one available tag.

Among the tweaks some players would like to see, according to sources: An increased revenue share, improved pension and further improvements to working conditions.

The NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 against recommending the proposal, which offers a guaranteed revenue share of 48 percent in 2021, with a potential increase to 48.5 percent upon the start of a 17-game season, which is yet to be determined.

The proposed CBA also offers at least $90,000 increases on minimum salaries, increased pay for offseason activities, expanded pension eligibility, a limit of 16 days in pads at training camp and mandated improvements to visiting team locker rooms.

The current CBA expires March 2021.

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