According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, one impediment to a deal dating back to the owners’ March 11th offer to the players was the fact that ownership didn’t offer players any “backside” to the salary-capped years of 2011 through 2014, and players wouldn’t have been able to benefit from any major influx in income by owners, which wasn’t good enough for the rank-and-file, rightfully so.
King is now told owners likely will be willing to give players a percentage of the profits beyond what the owners project for those four seasons. This would become significant in 2014, when the league will reach new network TV deals with its partners, and the rights fees could go up monstrously.
Here’s the biggest reason: If the players got no piece of the new TV hike, how do you think they’d feel if headlines in the future trumpeted a $2-billion increase in the rights fees beginning in 2014 (that’s a guess on my part, but it might not be far off if the ratings continue to soar) and the owners could pocket the increase beyond the scheduled bump in the cap and expenses? Not good, which is why the owners have to put in a backside to the deal and now, apparently, will do so. The dinner Roger Goodell and De Smith had Wednesday night, alone? “Don’t underestimate it,” King is told. “A very good sign.”