Tagged in: agreement

NBPA reps approve Dec. 22 start date for 72-game regular season

The National Basketball Players Association board of representatives voted on Thursday night to approve a plan for a Dec. 22 start to the season that contains a reduced 72-game calendar, clearing the way for league and union to finalize details on the 2020-21 campaign, sources told ESPN.

The NBPA’s board of player representatives voted to approve the pre-Christmas start in a conference call with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA are planning to discuss the opening of free agency as quickly as possible after the Nov. 18 NBA draft to accommodate player movement with such a short window to the opening of training camps on Dec. 1, sources said. The league and players are still negotiating financial terms of an amended collective bargaining agreement and those talks are expected to extend into next week, sources said.

Once a formal agreement is reached, the league will lift a moratorium and re-open the league for business on trades prior to the draft.

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The league thinks that a Dec. 22 start that includes Christmas Day matches on television and allows for a 72-game schedule that concludes before the Summer Olympics in mid-July is worth between $500 million and $1 billion in short- and long-term revenues to the league and players, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA have discussed significant rises in the escrow withholding on players’ salaries to account for the severe losses in league revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sides are working toward spreading out the players’ losses over multiple seasons, so the players don’t take such a substantial financial hit in one year.

The NBA has pushed back a deadline to Friday that keeps open the option of terminating the collective bargaining agreement, which would essentially blow up the league’s financial structure that allows for a 50-50 split of basketball-related income (BRI) under the provisions of the CBA.

Because of the pandemic triggering a force majeure clause in the CBA, both sides have the option of serving notice of 45 days on terminating the agreement, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA split the BRI, and the league recently told teams that 40% of that revenue could be lost without gate receipts this campaign, sources said.

The NBA’s basketball-related income was down $1.5 billion last season, according to data provided to teams and obtained by ESPN.

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Chiefs RB Damien Williams will opt out of 2020 season

The Kansas City Chiefs have stated that RB Damien Williams has informed the team of his decision to opt-out of the 2020 campaign.

Per the NFL’s opt-out agreement, Williams will receive an advance on his salary, commensurate with the high-risk or voluntary opt-out designation. He’ll receive no credited season for 2020. His contract will toll, or pause, and resume in 2021.

That means the Chiefs will have some instant salary-cap relief, but they’ll add that amount back to the 2021 salary cap. Williams, 28, joined the Chiefs as a free agent in March of 2018. He took a backseat to former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt initially but would earn the starting role after Hunt’s dismissal from the team.

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In 2019, Williams was named starting running back by offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy ahead of training camp.

They’d bring in LeSean McCoy to split time with Williams in a committee approach to the backfield. Williams would separate himself late in the season, appearing in 11 matches, rushing for 498 yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries. In Super Bowl LIV, Williams scored the go-ahead touchdown and the touchdown that would put the game on ice for Kansas City.

The Chiefs are uniquely prepared for this opt-out with a deep running back room that added Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the draft and DeAndre Washington in free agency.

Still, this means that the most veteran running back on the Chiefs’ roster is Darrel Williams, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018. They’ll have to get the new players up to speed and ready in a short amount of time.

Williams scored six touchdowns in the Chiefs’ three postseason games.

Starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif also opted out of the 2020 season.

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Derrick Henry, Titans reach agreement on 4-year deal

The Titans waited until the 11th hour, but they’ve secured their rushing king.

Tennessee agreed to terms with running back Derrick Henry on a four-year deal worth $50 million right before Wednesday’s deadline, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The team later confirmed it reached a long-term agreement with the RB.

Henry signed his franchise tag tender less than a month after the Titans formally placed it on him before the start of free agency, but that one-year contract that was arranged to pay him $10.3 million will become moot upon signing the new, multi-year deal.

“I want to stay with the Tennessee Titans,” Henry said, via the team website. “They are the ones that took a chance on me – 31 teams passed on me on the draft and they selected me. I have a lot of love for Tennessee. I have a lot of love for everyone in that organization.

“And we have grown from the time I got there. (In 2016) we just missed the playoffs, (in 2017) we got into the playoffs and went into the second round. This year we went to the AFC Championship. We have grown as an organization and as a team and I think that speaks volume for the direction we’re headed.”

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Henry rumbled to the league’s rushing title in the final week of the 2019 season, capping a 1,540-yard, 16-touchdown campaign with a dominant 211-yard outing in a playoff-clinching Week 17 victory over Houston.

He proved his worth in the postseason, putting Tennessee’s offense on his back to help the Titans to two stunning playoff victories.

Henry rushed 64 times for 377 yards and one touchdown in Tennessee’s upset victory over New England and Baltimore before coming back to earth in an AFC Championship Game loss to Kansas City.

Henry’s 69-yard outing in the conference title game wasn’t his fault, but a result of a Titans offense trying to keep pace with the Chiefs’ explosive group and being forced to turn away from the run. It definitely wasn’t indicative of his value; without Henry, the Titans simply do not reach the doorstep of the Super Bowl.

As of July 2020, it is wise for the Titans to do what they must to keep Henry, the strongest part of their offense for almost the entirety of his career — even if it took Tennessee two years to realize it.

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Las Vegas Raiders finalizing deal with CB Prince Amukamara

The Las Vegas Raiders are finalizing an agreement with veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

Amukamara, who has started 99 matches in his career, should compete for a starting job with Las Vegas at best and provide much-needed experience and depth at cornerback at the very least.

The Raiders return Trayvon Mullen, who started the last 10 games of his rookie season last year, and used a first-round draft pick, No. 19 overall, on Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette and a fourth-round pick on slot corner Amik Robertson.

Amukamara, who turns 31 on June 6, was released by the Chicago Bears on Feb. 21, as he was entering the final season of his three-year, $27 million extension signed in 2018. His cap hit was to be $8 million.

Amukamara spent three campaigns with the Bears, appearing in 44 of 48 games with 42 starts, and had three interceptions (all in 2018), 29 passes defended, three forced fumbles, a recovery and a defensive touchdown. In nine NFL seasons, he has 476 tackles and 10 interceptions.

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A first-round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2011, he was part of their Super Bowl team in his rookie year.

He also spent a season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before joining the Bears in 2017.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock recognized before the draft that the Raiders needed to address the position, especially after an offseason agreement with free-agent cornerback Eli Apple fell through.

“We feel like we got a bunch of talented young kids that we don’t know enough about yet,” Mayock said. “Trayvon played really well the second half of the season. We believe that he’s going to be a starter for years to come. Isaiah Johnson was a fourth-round pick, a former wide receiver with all kinds of physical skill set. We love his traits. He got hurt early, we brought him back late. He’s a guy we can’t wait to see play. Keisean Nixon was a free agent out of South Carolina who made the team and played well on special teams. He’s a really competitive young man. And Dylan Mabin is another kid out of Fordham who got hurt and didn’t get a chance to show what he can do.

“So, we’ve got four or five young corners who we’re kind of intrigued by. Now, do we think that we need to get better there? Yeah.”

Enter Arnette, Robertston and, now, Amukamara.

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