With the 2011 NFL season about to kick off tonight, we here at The Legal Blitz thought all of the football diehards might want to check out the complete version of the newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement. If preseason football doesn’t hold your attention all night, have fun with the 316-page thriller below.
Here are some of the key components to keep in mind while you are debating whether Tim Tebow is a prophet, if the Eagles know there is a salary cap and if James Harrison will finally decapitate somebody this season.
- Salary cap: Teams must spend a minimum of 89 percent of the salary cap for the first time in history beginning in 2013 based on a four-year average. This includes a guaranteed league-wide cash spend of 95 percent from 2013-2020.
- Steroid testing: The league testing policy will include both annual blood testing and random blood testing for human growth hormone, with discipline for positive tests at the same level as for steroids.
- Mandatory rookie contract lengths: First-round draft picks will have four-year contracts with a fifth year option for teams to exercise after the third year. All other draft picks are mandatory four-year deals. There is also a limit of overall first-year rookie compensation of $159 million in 2011, increasing with the cap.
- Rookie wages: Top-ten draft picks’ salary based on the average of the top-ten players at the same position. There is no limit on guaranteed money. There is a built-in Proven Performance Escalator for players drafted in the final five rounds which is based on a minimum average of 35 percent playing time over the first three years.
- Minimum salaries: The minimum base salary for a rookie in 2011 is $375,000, which will increase each year by $15,000 until it reaches $420,000 in 2014. A veteran player with four to six years in the NFL will make a minimum of $685,000 in 2011 increasing to $730,000 in 2014.
- Guaranteed contracts: The NFL finally joins other major professional sports leagues by now guaranteeing contracts against injury up to the third year.
- Legacy fund: The NFL will pay $610 million to a legacy fund for pre-1993 players and the NFLPA will have discretionary use of $20 million to spend on health, safety and former player issues.
- Practice limits: There is now a limit of 14 total padded practices during the regular season with 11 mandatory in the first 11 weeks. Only one padded practice per week in the postseason. Padded practices limited to three hours.