With the 2011 NFL season on the line, Owners and the NFLPA start the posturing, and sat down recently to discuss the layout of meetings and an agenda as they move forward. With negotiation generally leaving a bad taste in the mouth of all involved. Talking to several league sources close to the situation, things are not looking good for the 2011 kick-off, but hope and a lot of hard work head of those involved, gives the season a chance.

This week the NFLPA Executive DeMaurice Smith, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and others (NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, NFL Executive Committee member Domonique Foxworth, Player Advocate Ernie Conwell, Bill Polian and Mike McCormick).

The NFLPA laid out their points of negotiation in this meeting, which actually went pretty smooth. Discussed was OTA (Organized Team Activities) that have a direct relationship to the 18 game regular season with 2 pre-season game schedule. Players union wants less off season activities to allow their bodies to heal and prepare for the upcoming season. This means less contact in practice sessions, off season mini-camps and all OTA’s.

Other issues to be discussed rather soon; Benefits for current and retired players; Rookie Wage Cap; Blood Testing for HGH and other growth hormonal drugs; Reduction in percentage of overall Player/Owner Revenue.

Per Chris Mortensen of ESPN; In an e-mail obtained last week by ESPN, Smith wrote to player reps: “We proposed to address the rookie issue with a ‘Proven Performance’ plan that would redirect $200 million from rookie cost to veterans, cap rookies to three-year contracts so ‘busts’ were out of the league quickly, and provided incentives to lowest spending teams to remain competitive by forcing money back to the vets on those teams. Union sources believe the likelihood of a rookie hard cap being in place by 2011 is remote because, as Smith inferred again, management is preparing for a lockout that season. However, a management source said that owners are considering making a proposal that would make a rookie cap effective immediately, in April, as an addendum to the current labor agreement, even if the two sides fail to reach agreement on an extension. The source said management would like to discuss redistributing the $200 million in rookie savings in 2010 to endow a fund for NFL retired players”.

While the NFLPA has flashed the ability to demonstrate some negotiation forwardness by asking for all 32 teams detailed fiscal reports, showing profit/loss, cash flow, teams salaries, team value and profit margins.

Per Chris Mortensen, Smith went on to say: “In addition to what I have shared with you earlier, the NFL wants to: eliminate the retirement plan for current players and replace it with a defined contribution plan, make current players pay for any deficiency in the retirement plan as it affects former players [and relieve them of this obligation], and include blood tests for players.

“The NFL responded that ‘even if’ they gave us profit information, they believed that we would not agree to their demands. They indicated that they were ready for an uncapped year and ready for any work stoppage. There has been no formal proposal for adding extra games.

“I will keep our scheduled next dates for CBA meetings. We will continue to negotiate. However, the message I first brought you nearly a year ago remains the same: This is not about CBA negotiation, it is about one side preparing for a lockout since late 2007.”

I feel there is enough money for both Owners and Players to prosper, while making changes to the game that is still very attractive to the fan base while not effecting football lore.