Source: Owners, players discussing almost 50-50 revenue split

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- NFL owners and players are discussing an almost straight split of income in the next collective bargaining agreement that would net the players just less than 50 percent of total revenues.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press the players' share would approach the 50 percent the NFL Players Association has said it has received throughout the past decade. The expense credits -- about $1 billion last year -- that the league takes off the top would also disappear.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are supposed to be confidential. The owners held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss proposals made in recent negotiations with the players.

Also, there would no longer be "designated revenues" from which the players would share, the person said. Instead, the players would share from the entire pie, which they project will grow significantly over the course of the new CBA, which is expected to run anywhere from six to 10 years. So if the players are taking 48 percent or more of a much higher revenue stream -- without the initial NFL deduction for operating expenses -- the players still would receive far more money than they got under the previous agreement.

A salary floor keeping teams within 90 percent of the cap also would be included. The players have been concerned that some teams whose revenue streams don't match up with the richer clubs would try to hold down salary spending.

Several owners were expected to have objections to some of the proposals, which could lead to lengthy discussions lasting perhaps into Wednesday. But both sides appear eager to find common ground for a new collective bargaining agreement rather than going back into court. A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the league's appeal of a lower-court injunction that originally blocked the lockout. That injunction is on hold, and a ruling could come anytime.

"This is the season to get a deal," Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday before entering the conference room where representatives from all 32 teams were being updated by Commissioner Roger Goodell and his negotiating committee. "I think the logic that you're pushing on both sides is saying why get a deal Oct. 1, or whenever, when you could have had July 7, or whatever."

The lockout began March 12. Training camps are scheduled to open in late July.

"Let's get some work done," said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of the league's most influential executives.

The person with knowledge of the negotiations said the players made economic concessions during the past three weeks of "secret" talks on both revenue percentage and on future stadium credits; many NFL teams have heavy debt for stadium construction.

"The next financial model is going to look more like a division of percentage of total revenues," the person said. "That is the context being discussed. It is a simpler mechanism to understand. You take away the 60 percent of defined gross revenues, take away the up-front expense credits that keep growing and now will be gone, it becomes easier to deal with the economics on a macro level."

Other items, such as a rookie wage scale and health benefits, have been discussed in the secret owner-player meetings, but won't be settled until the revenue split is determined, the person said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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