NFL lockout? NFLPA warns players to save money for possible 2021 work stoppage

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As NFL labor negotiations loom over the 2019 season, the NFL Players Association is already warning players to save money to prepare for a possible work stoppage in 2021.

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In a Tuesday email, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith advised NFL agents to tell their clients to budget their income to account for a player strike or lockout by ownership. The NFL’s current collective-bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, and negotiations on the next deal are widely expected to be contentious.

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“We are advising players to plan for a work stoppage of at least a year in length,” Smith wrote in the letter.

An NFLPA representative confirmed the email’s authenticity but declined further comment. The NFL and NFLPA acknowledged last April that they had begun talks on a new deal.

The NFL last experienced a lockout in 2011, when an impasse in negotiations led owners to bar players from team facilities from March to July of that year. The two sides managed to reach terms on a new CBA without any interruptions to the 2011 regular season.

NFL players haven’t held a strike since 1987, when some games were canceled and owners turned to replacement players.

Sports Business Journal was first to report the letter’s contents.

Player compensation, and a desire for more guaranteed money on contracts, is expected to be a major issue in ongoing labor talks. Los Angeles Rams star running back Todd Gurley warned fellow players last July to be prepared for a lockout.

“For right now, we just need to come together and be prepared. You always have to be prepared. We’ll just come together, pull up a couple different ideas and go on from there. You definitely always have to be prepared for certain situations,” Gurley said at the time, according to USA Today.

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The NFL did not immediately return a request for comment on the email.

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