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NFL vs. NFLPA And A Potential 2011 NFL Lockout

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The last month has been a crazy time for 49ers and Raiders fans. Although both team's finished the season out of the playoffs, they both have reasons to be excited heading into 2011. The Raiders capped off their best year since 2002 and have promoted Hue Jackson into their head coaching role. The 49ers had a horrendous regular season but have since added Jim Harbaugh to the team and fan expectations are sky high.

Unfortunately, the 2011 NFL season remains a big question mark thanks to the labor issues that have arisen between the NFL and NFLPA amidst negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides have rattled their sabres over the past year and now the NFL is in danger of its first work stoppage since the 1987 players strike. This time around it would be an NFL lockout with the owners executing the maneuver. Which ever party kicks off the economic weapons, both sides have plenty of work to do to straighten this mess out.

We'll be here over the coming months providing updates on the situation and how the labor relationship is developing. Ideally this will be an incredibly short story stream, but I would be surprised if this was wrapped up quickly. The current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3, 2011, at which point one of several options exist:

1. The league could immediately elect to lockout the players. If that happens, coaches and training staffs likely would not be able to work with any of the players in any manner. If that happens the two sides would hopefully work to continue negotiating a new CBA and get the lockout ended as soon as possible.

If the league locks out the players, one option available to the players would be to decertify themselves as a union and sue in court under antitrust laws. A month or two ago the NFLPA received permission from the players to take this action if necessary.

2. The league could choose to not lock players out and continue negotiations for a new CBA. If negotiations did not go anywhere the owners could declare impasse and implement their "last, best offer." At that point, the players would then decide to either accept the offer or go out on strike.

3. The two sides could calm down the sabre rattling and just negotiate a new deal while operating under the rules of the previous CBA. The easiest example of this would be simply extending the current CBA one more year while continuing negotiations. I doubt this happens because the owners have made it clear they really want to change the system, while players want significant improvements in health and safety issues.

The two sides have battled in the public arena off and on over the last year and we are finally reaching the point where the rubber meets the road. The two sides have a lot to figure out over the coming months and we'll be here to provide continuous updates.