New NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth sent a letter on Monday to NFL players and agents addressing the criticism levied at the union for the results it achieved following last year's lockout.
Foxworth attached a four-page analysis from union outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler, with charts and graphs added to illustrate increases in cash payouts and guaranteed compensation and show the NFLPA wound up with a better deal in July than what was proposed by owners before the lockout in March.
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Foxworth's letter outlined the following points:
• The amount of cash spent on players in salaries and benefits under the new collective bargaining agreement has gone up to about 55 percent of all revenues in 2011. This is a higher percentage spent on players in cash than in any year under the 2006 CBA.
• Players were paid more than $160 million per team in cash and benefits in 2011, which is well above the $142.4 million in cap-plus-benefits for 2011.
• Equally significant, because of the increase in signing bonuses and rookie guarantees, the amount of player salaries guaranteed increased from about 50 percent in 2010 to about 57 percent in 2011. This is the highest percentage of guaranteed compensation NFL players have ever received.
• Elimination of two-a-days and reduced hitting in practices have provided an immediate benefit to players.
The message from Foxworth and Kessler was that "cash spending" was emphasized in the new CBA over salary-cap dollars, which is reflected in the league-wide minimum-spending limits for 2011 and 2012, and the team-spending salary floors starting in 2013.
The union and the league needed to borrow money from future years to get the cap for 2012 to the level it was at in 2011. This led to criticism and scrutiny over the gains made for players during the labor negotiations.
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"A number of anti-player critics made claims about the new CBA between the NFL owners and the NFLPA that were grossly inaccurate and demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of both the current and former agreement," Kessler wrote. "As outside counsel in the negotiations that led to the new CBA -- as well as all prior NFL CBAs that have been negotiated since 1993 -- I am intimately familiar with the new CBA and how it compares to prior agreements, and the inaccuracies compel me to respond."
Kessler then laid out nine points, expanding on the four fundamental gains that Foxworth outlined above.
Following those, Kessler compared the offer from March 2011 to the terms of the new CBA, emphasizing the aforementioned $160 million in cash-plus-benefits spent against the $141 million proposed as part of the owners' pegged cap proposal.
Kessler also said that the continued negotiations prevented the owners from having ultimate power over the implementation of an 18-game regular season schedule and a rigid rookie wage scale, and led to league-wide cash spending guaranteed and "cash over cap" increases.