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The Next CBA Negotiations Could Be a Disaster Because of Roger Goodell

The NFLPA and the NFL apparently disagree on the commissioner's disciplinary powers.

Yesterday, the NFL's annual meeting came to a close. After four days of rule discussions, media availability and speculation about the Patriots' forfeited 2016 first round draft pick, the meeting -- and New England's hopes of getting the pick back -- ended yesterday with a press conference by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The central points of the press conference were the rule changes and the league's overall stance on safety issues. There were other questions raised as well, like Deflategate -- or one that could have long-lasting effects on the league: Goodell's disciplinary powers.

Goodell was asked about a Wall Street Journal-report from earlier this month about potentially changing his role in the league's disciplinary process (a question interestingly left out of the official transcript). The commissioner said that the league and its players "have had discussions about the discipline process for decades". He also said that "We're always open to [changing it]. If we can find a better discipline system, let's do it."

However, according to Goodell, the both sides are "not close to an agreement by any stretch" -- a potentially serious problem when looking at the negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement in 2021. Of course, a lot could change over the course of the next five seasons, but with the two sides nowhere close to each other, the disciplinary process could be a major stumbling block when the talks for a new CBA start.

recent e-mail by the NFLPA's executive director DeMaurice Smith reiterates this. According to Smith, there has been "a massive step backwards from where negotiations stood several weeks ago" due to a recent change of course by the league regarding Goodell's role as arbitrator -- or: judge, jury and executioner. The NFL has apparently made it clear that "neutral arbitration is NOT a part" of ongoing negotiations between the two sides.

Until the NFL and the players association find a way to get close on this topic -- the commissioner's disciplinary role and powers -- and overcome this issue, the negotiations for a new CBA project to be a disaster