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The NFLPA Executive Committee, along with a player representative from each team, has just unanimously approved the recently agreed upon collective bargaining agreement, ending the four month old NFL lockout.
Now, teams may start signing free agents, rookies, and get ready for training camp. For the Vikings, that means between now and the opening of camp on Friday, they will have to sign all their draft picks, rookie free agents, their own free agents, and other free agents, like a veteran quarterback.
What normally takes place over the course of a few months will now take place in a few days, and guys like Rob Brzezinski and Rick Spielman will get no sleep for the next few days.
But we’ll be here for it all, and as Vikings news breaks, we’ll get it to you as fast as we can.
Buckle your seat belt, folks. It’s going to be a crazy few days.
That's it everyone, we did it. We made it through the 2011 NFL Lockout, and without too much harm to our sanity for that matter. The two sides agreed to a new version of the CBA over the weekend, and early this morning (real early, like 3:00 a.m.) the players voted to officially end the lockout. Happy days are here again.
From there, we still need to determine what the timeline of re-opening the league will be like. ESPN reports that free agency could start as soon as Tuesday with contracts not becoming official until Aug. 2 while others report that full free agency won't open until Friday night.
We're not sure exactly when free agency will actually begin because there are so many conflicting reports out there. But I assume that we will hear for sure one way or another when the press conference takes place, likely on Monday. But no matter how the rest of this offseason plays out, it looks like the NFL will be back in session later this afternoon.
End, the NFL's labor wars have.
According to numerous sources, including Mike Freeman of CBS Sports and Pro Football Talk, the NFL owners have reached an agreement with the NFLPA* regarding the final points of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and player representatives are flying to Washington, D.C. to vote on Monday.
By all accounts, there are no more things to be "worked out," no more "minor details to be put into place," or anything like that.
While we have not seen a new timeline for how things will occur when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is officially put into place, it is being said that players could start being allowed into team facilities as early as Wednesday. If that's the case, the NFL is apparently hoping to open free agency and training camps on Saturday, July 30, which is going to make things awfully interesting.
After more than four months of negotiations, it appears that the National Football League lockout could be coming to an end in the next 48 hours. If everything goes the way things are expected, here is what the next few days will look like.
Today (July 20) - The NFLPA* is currently discussing the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement, and they are expected to take a vote on it as well. There are no indicators to this point that it will not pass, so barring anything strange, half the job should be done by close of business today.
July 21 - The NFL owners will meet in Atlanta, and they will vote on the CBA as well. If 3/4 of the owners vote in favor of the proposal, then it will become official and the lockout will come to an end.
July 22 - NFL players will officially be able to report to their team facilities, meet with coaches, and get medical treatment from team staff. On this date, officials from the NFL teams will be given a course to get them familiar with the new CBA rules and what they mean for their teams. They will then have three days to get familiar with everything.
July 25 - A three-day window will open for teams to negotiate with and attempt to sign their own free agents. For the Minnesota Vikings, this will be crucial to whether or not the team will be able to retain wide receiver Sidney Rice. Defensive end Ray Edwards, who is also a free agent, appears to have one foot out the door already, but there is hope for the retention of Rice.
This will also be the time that teams will be able to sign undrafted college free agents, so that's something else for Viking fans to keep an eye on.
July 28 - The exclusive negotiation window will close, and you will see the start of the biggest free agency free-for-all the National Football League has ever seen.
July 31 - Vikings players are expected to report for Training Camp. . .which, to the best of our knowledge, is still being held on the campus of Minnesota State University in Mankato.
August 1 - The Vikings will hold their first practice of training camp.
The action will be happening fast and furious once things have settled, folks, so be sure to keep your eyes here and on The Daily Norseman (at the same time, if possible) for any breaking news that might happen.
It looks like the NFL lockout is close to ending, as two major hurdles that kept the sides apart seem to have been resolved.
The first is the agreement of a rookie wage scale, which I think is a good thing for the league. Some highlights of that agreement:
• Five-year contracts, with a team option for the fifth year.
• If the team option is exercised, in the fifth year the top 10 picks would receive a salary equal to the average of the top 10 player salaries at their respective positions. That money would be guaranteed if the option is exercised after the third year of the contract.
• If the team option is exercised, in the fifth year picks 11-32 would receive a salary equal to the average of the Nos. 3-25 salaries at their respective positions. That money would be guaranteed if the option is exercised after the third year of the contract.
As to the salary cap number, it appears both sides have agreed to $120 million for the 2011 season. But with no salary cap for the 2010 season, it looks like teams might get a ‘one player exception’ to go over the $120 million.
The National Football League owners are meeting in Chicago today to discuss a potential Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Football League players. ESPN has gotten a hold of some of the particulars that are being pitched to the owners, and it looks like some significant concessions have been made.
Among the things that ESPN is hearing:
Hopefully, something will be worked out on the labor front soon, allowing teams to have a full pre-season to get themselves ready for 2011.
The NFL lockout is still chugging along, but news came down on Thursday afternoon that seems to be of the positive variety for those hoping the 2011 NFL season begins on time.
According to a release from the NFL Labor News website, the recent judicial rulings will allow players to return to business as usual beginning Friday morning at 7 a.m. following the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday evening.
The release basically states that the players can return to practicing at the Minnesota Vikings practice facility, but the front offices will have to continue to wait to get back to business until the official beginning of the 2011 League Year (which should be sooner rather than later). Until then, no transactions -- signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc. -- can be made.
Regardless, this seems to be inching fans closer toward the goal of having the 2011 NFL season begin on time considering the players are now allowed to do the following things (as summarized by SB Nation's Joel Thorman):
-Players will be allowed in the building for physicals, rehab and other medical treatment.
-Teams can hand out playbooks and game film to the players.
-Coaches can meet with players to discuss the playbooks, game film and the offseason schedule.
-Voluntary offseason workouts can begin and players will be eligible for workout bonuses in their contracts.
-On non-workout days, players can use the facility to work out on their own.
-Mandatory and voluntary minicamps can begin.
-Those in the NFL's substance abuse or steroid programs can begin receiving counseling, rehab and treatment.
-Players can begin participating in team-sponsored charitable events.
So while the NFL lockout isn't quite over, it does appear to be coming closer to an end.
Late on Wednesday evening, Judge Susan Nelson denied the National Football League's request for a stay of the ruling that allowed the NFL Lockout to continue.
What does that mean? It means that, for now, the lockout is still lifted, but the NFL is expected to appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court and ask them for a stay of the previous ruling as well.
NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello released the following statement to the media, indicating that the league is taking Judge Nelson's ruling quite seriously.
"We are filing tonight a request with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending our appeal," Aiello said. "We believe there are strong legal and practical reasons that support a stay and that the Court of Appeals should have an opportunity to address the important legal issues that will be presented. We have asked the Court of Appeals to consider on an expedited basis both our request for a stay and the appeal itself. We are evaluating the District Court’s decision and will advise our clubs in the morning on how to proceed."
(Hat tip to Pro Football Talk for the story.)
What does this mean? Well, the league will be advising their teams on how to proceed on Thursday, but from the content of the ruling, it appears that the 2011 league year is supposed to be getting underway in very short order. It also means that, with the draft coming up this evening, it is possible that trades for players that are currently under contract could be allowed, which is something that would not have happened had a stay been issued and the lockout allowed to continue the way it had been.
We still need to know what rules things like free agency will be conducted under and things of that nature, as that could have a dramatic effect on certain teams and certain players. If business is to be conducted under last season's rules, many players that thought they would be eligible for unrestricted free agency under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will find themselves as restricted free agents instead. This is notable in the case of the Vikings for wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Ray Edwards, both of whom would be restricted free agents under last year's rules rather than unrestricted, thus increasing their chances of staying with Minnesota.
Buried within the pages of Judge Susan Nelson's 80-page ruling that (temporarily) ended the current NFL lockout is a citation that directly mentioned our Minnesota Vikings.
Now, if you'll recall correctly. . .and it might be hard, given the effort by so many of us trying to push the entirety of the 2010 season out of our minds. . .when the seriousness of Sidney Rice's hip injury was finally revealed, the Vikings made a strong play for San Diego Chargers' wide receiver Vincent Jackson. How serious?
According to Nelson's ruling (and brought to you courtesy of the nice folks at Access Vikings), Jackson's agent and the Vikings had agreed to terms of a contract that would have paid Jackson $8 million (pro-rated) for the remainder of the 2010 season, and $10 million in 2011. Chargers' general manager A.J. Smith chose to hold on to Jackson. . .and paid him exactly $280,824.
Nelson cited the Jackson example as proof that irreparable harm had been done to the players, saying the following:
"There can be no real dispute that all of the free-agent players have demonstrated a sufficient threat of irreparable harm warranting the issuance of injunctive relief," Nelson wrote.
"The Brady Plaintiffs have shown not only that they likely would suffer irreparable harm absent the preliminary injunction, but that they are in fact suffering such harm now. Irreparable harm occurs when a party has no adequate remedy at law, typically because its injuries cannot be fully compensated through an award of damages."
You can read the rest of Alex Marvez's story that the Access Vikings report is based on right here.
You could say that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't a big fan of the ruling put forth by Judge Susan Nelson today in Minneapolis. You could also say that Kirstie Alley is slightly larger than the size six that she claims to be. Both of these things would be grossly understating the obvious, if Goodell's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal is any indication.
In the column, Goodell paints a pretty grim picture of what the NFL will be like if the players get their way.
Is this the NFL that players want? A league where elite players attract enormous compensation and benefits while other players—those lacking the glamour and bargaining power of the stars—play for less money, fewer benefits and shorter careers than they have today? A league where the competitive ability of teams in smaller communities (Buffalo, New Orleans, Green Bay and others) is forever cast into doubt by blind adherence to free-market principles that favor teams in larger, better-situated markets?
Read the whole thing. . .it's like a Depeche Mode album put into print.
Meanwhile, the NFL has already filed their appeal, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow (at the earliest) to see whether or not the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear to destroy the league or whatever Goodell will come up with next.
In what comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody, the National Football League has already released a statement seeking their intention to appeal this afternoon's ruling. That statement, in its entirety, is as follows:
We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.
It should be interesting to see this. While a stay would allow the lockout to continue, players won't necessarily to be banging down the door to play under last year's rules, which the owners are expected to implement in the event that the lockout is lifted.
In the specific case of the Minnesota Vikings, two people that certainly wouldn't be pleased with playing under last year's rules would be wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Ray Edwards. Why? Because under last year's rules, neither one of them would be eligible for unrestricted free agency. Instead, they would both be restricted free agents, both of whom have already been tendered by the Vikings. We have more specifics on that over at The Daily Norseman for your reading pleasure.
The NFLPA. . .er, the NFL Players Trade Association or whatever it is they're calling themselves now. . .got exactly the ruling they wanted from Judge Susan Nelson today in Minneapolis.
Judge Nelson ruled that the NFL owners need to lift the current NFL lockout and allow player transactions to take place, as well as allow players to work out at team facilities and all of the other things that they would have been allowed to do had the lockout not taken place.
However, there will certainly be an appeal by the owners, who will not only appeal Judge Nelson's ruling, but also ask for a stay of the previous verdict. If the appellate court doesn't grant a stay, then the owners will have to put some sort of system in place to facilitate player transactions and player movement, whether it's based on last year's system or some sort of other arrangement. If the stay is granted, then basically nothing changes. . .the lockout will remain in place while Judge Nelson's ruling is being appealed.
For more up to the minute news on the NFL lockout and the fallout from this ruling, be sure to keep your eye on SB Nation's NFL Labor news stream, which is updated instantaneously when new news on the situation becomes available.
NFLPA representative DeMaurice Smith has offered a couple of statements, which we present to you now in video form.
So, the union wanted a whole lot of financial data from the owners, and the owners decided they didn't want to give it up. It appears that's pretty much what this is going to come down to.
There are no winners at this point in time, but I can tell you for darn sure that the losers here are all of us fans. These two sides have known what was coming for a very long time, and at the end of the day, they simply couldn't figure out how to divide. . .get this. . .nine billion dollars. We should all have such problems.
The next step for this is to head into the courtroom, folks. It's going to be a long process, it's going to get ugly, and we're not going to see football for a very long time.
The National Football League has released a statement in response to today's events. It reads as follows:
The fastest way to a fair agreement is for both the union and the clubs to continue the mediation process. Unfortunately, the players’ union has notified our office that at 4pm ET it had “decertified” and is walking away from mediation and collective bargaining, presumably to initiate the antitrust litigation it has been threatening to file. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, the clubs offered a deal that would have had no adverse financial impact upon veteran players in the early years and would meet the players’ financial demands in the latter years.
The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).
The union was offered financial disclosure of audited league and club profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs.
The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes.
At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification’ and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.
The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.
So, there's the league's point of view. I'm sure the NFLPA. . .or whatever it is now that it has decertified. . .will have something similar coming shortly.
After knowing what was potentially coming for a full year, the National Football League players and owners apparently still couldn't come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, and now it doesn't look like we're going to be getting football for a very long time.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, among other sources, have reported that the National Football League Players Association. . .i.e. the players' union. . .has filed paperwork in federal court in Minneapolis to decertify itself, opening the way for anti-trust lawsuits against the National Football League and its owners.
DeMaurice Smith said that the NFL owners had until 4 PM Central time to turn over ten years of audited financial paperwork, or the players would not agree to another extension of negotiations, similar to the one that was reached a week ago. It doesn't appear that the owners have complied with those demands, because the decertification of the players' union is, apparently, underway.
This means that we're likely in for months of legal wrangling and courtroom battles, all of which could potentially put the 2011 NFL season in some serious jeopardy.
We'll have more on this story as it develops.
Although the owners had never formally proposed anything along those lines, NFLPA representative DeMaurice Smith said just a little while ago that an 18-game schedule is not something that the players would agree to in CBA negotiations.
"First of all, the league has never presented a formal proposal for 18 games," he told SI.com. "But more importantly, it's something that our players don't want. Eighteen games is not in the best interest of our players' safety, so we're not doing it."
Well, if the league had never actually presented anything like this, then why would Smith make a statement like this now?
One also has to wonder if this will become a sticking point in negotiations down the track. The owners and the players, for all of our optimism, don't seem to be that much closer to a deal, and we're less than two days away from the deadline imposed by both sides to get a deal done. The official "drop dead" time is 4 PM Central time on Friday.
We've done a breakdown of the reported rookie wage scale over at The Daily Norseman, but here are some of the highlights.
-Contracts for first-round draft picks will be limited to four years, after which players will become unrestricted free agents. Currently, players drafted in the first half of Round One can sign for as long as six years, and players in the bottom half of Round One can sign for up to five years.
-Contracts for everyone else drafted will be limited to three years, after which the player will become a restricted free agent.
-There will also be language in the deal that will limit the amount of guaranteed money and signing bonuses that will go to rookie players.
In a peripherally related matter, there will also be language that will make it easier for owners to recoup money from players that run afoul of the law. (See also: Vick, Michael)
It's not a huge step or anything like that, but any progress is good progress as we're now about 48 hours away from the latest deadline to get a new CBA completed.
Armageddon has been averted once more, this time by at least a week.
Both sides in the NFL labor negotiations have agreed to extend the current Collective Bargaining Agreement for seven more days, according to numerous sources. The deadline was yesterday, initially, and was extended until today to allow both sides to continue negotiating. This seven-day extension will allow both sides to continue talking and, hopefully, come to an agreement to avoid a lockout of the players and decertification of the players union.
By all accounts, this is going to be the last extension of these talks. By this time next week, either we'll be talking about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (or, better yet, not talking about the CBA at all), or we'll be talking about the players being locked out and the union being decertified.
Hopefully, this means that the two sides are making progress. . .one would think that, if they weren't, they wouldn't agree to keep talking. Can they get this thing settled in seven days? We're all going to find out.
That's what's being reported by Sports Business Journal, in any event (courtesy of SB Nation). Federal mediator George Cohen has recommended a seven to ten day extension in order to get the new Collective Bargaining Agreement hammered out, and the players are now awaiting word from the owners as to whether or not they'll accept that extension as well.
In addition to being a bit of good news for football fans, it's also a pretty savvy PR move by the players. Now, if the owners don't agree to an extension and decide to lock the players out regardless, the players can turn around and say, "Well, we tried to work something out, but the owners just didn't want to negotiate with us, so now there might not be a season."
Don't think that the owners don't know that.
If the owners agree to this extension, negotiations will continue for the next week to ten days. If they don't. . .well, then the CBA expires at 11 PM Central time, the union would probably decertify before that (the deadline for that is 3 PM Central), and who knows what would happen at that point.
Stay tuned right here for any updates.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners are on the verge of extending the deadline for negotiations once again, possibly for another week or more. The two sides agreed to a 24-hour extension yesterday in order to avoid a lockout by the owners and/or the decertification of the NFLPA.
If the NFLPA still plans on decertifying itself in order to avoid a lockout, the deadline for that is at 3 PM Central time this afternoon. Otherwise, the NFLPA would not be able to decertify itself for six months.
As things stand now, all league transactions have been halted, as yesterday did mark the end of the league year, if not the end of the negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. So, there will be no more player signings, player trades, player releases, or any other transactions until such time that a new CBA is hammered out.
Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports is under the impression that a deal is "highly achievable."
Sources on both sides of the conflict agreed on one basic premise: If enough progress is made that another short-term CBA extension – perhaps a week, perhaps two – is announced by Friday night, the players and owners will almost certainly be headed for a settlement that will result in a multi-year deal before the end of this month.
If not, as one person familiar with the negotiations put it, "It will be Armageddon." The union will decertify and file a class-action, anti-trust lawsuit against the owners, who’ll issue a legal challenge to the validity of the act while implementing a lockout (or de facto lockout). A long, bitter standoff would likely ensue, and the 2011 season could be threatened.
Given the lose-lose nature of the latter scenario, the smart money is on a settlement. And while the situation remains delicate, for the first time key figures in each camp believe a deal is highly achievable.
For the sake of us football fans, I certainly hope that Mr. Silver is right.
We'll have more on this as the situation develops.
Like Tom Pelissero says, I’m not sure if that means they’re making a ton of progress or it’s just throwing us a bone. But there is now an extra day for the NFL and NFLPA to bridge some
I still wouldn’t get your hopes up about preventing a lockout altogether, but this is probably a step in the right direction at the very least.
The deadline for the NFL and the player's union to come to terms on a new CBA is midnight tonight. For a long time, it looked like that deadline would come and pass without an agreement being reached. But now, extension of that deadline is seeming like a very legitimate possibility.
I'm going to read between the lines here a little bit, mostly because I want to optimistic about a new deal being reached. I don't think the two sides would decide to extend the deadline window if they didn't think that there was a very real possibility that they could reach an agreement on a new CBA in the new timeframe. Otherwise, what would be the point of extending the deadline?
The only reason to extend the talks would be to reach an agreement. Or else it would just be a dog and pony show for the media and the fans, and I don't think that is what the two sides want to do. If they extend the deadline, my optimism for a deal will increase greatly.
Ok, so it looks like the player's union and the NFL owners won't be able to come to terms on a new CBA before the midnight deadline today. Where do we go from here? The prevailing opinion is that the player's union will decertify, in an effort to gain leverage over the owners. But what does that mean exactly?
It's been reported that the NFLPA is leaning toward filing for decertification, which would effectively end themselves as an organized union. This would allow them to file for antitrust claims -- something unions are not allowed to do -- and file an injunction to stop the lockout. Essentially, this would potentially give them a leg up in the legal maneuvering we're going to see.
But why now?
First, there is a clause in the current CBA that says if they don't decertify now, they'll have to wait six more months. Decertification is one of the union's biggest weapons so there's no reason for them to wait until September to use it.
Second, it would potentially keep Judge David Doty under their jurisdiction, which is important because Doty has issued several player-friendly rulings over the years, including the latest TV contracts case.
Like I said earlier, the move would be about leverage. If the union has the option to sue the league, especially with a favorable judge on the case, it may inspire the owners to be more willing to give in to some of the Unions (let's not say demands, even though it feels right) stipulations. In the next few hours, we could see the end, temporary as it may be, of the NFL player's union.
The NFL and the player's union have about 12 hours to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, or face the uncertainty of a lockout. The two sides don't appear to be close enough to one another to make an agreement happen, but there are some signs of progress. According to reports, the two sides had a meeting yesterday that went "better than expected."
That said, Don Banks of SI.com tweeted that a source tells him Wednesday's meeting between the NFL and NFLPA -- which included several owners and active players -- went "better than expected". Unfortunately for fans who want football, this could just as easily mean, 'We were 100 miles apart and now we're just 99 miles apart.'
That last sentence is kind of a bummer, but regardless, progress is being made. This is the first time that we have heard that any progress is being made. It may not mean that the two can come to terms before midnight, but it could signify that the two sides could reach an agreement sometime before September, which would salvage the Regular Season.
As of the time I'm writing this, it's about 24 hours before labor Armageddon hits in the National Football League, and the situation is bleak at best. Even after days of mediation, the two sides don't appear to be very close to agreeing on anything, and a lockout appears to be inevitable.
However, Judge David Doty. . .who has made so many pro-player, pro-union decisions over the years that the league tried to have him removed from jurisdiction over the league. . .gave the players some serious leverage on Tuesday, when he ruled that the NFL's $4 billion television contract was negotiated in bad faith and that the league could not collect on the television revenue that they had been counting on in the event of a strike.
When the league signed a contract with the players, they agreed to negotiate in good faith in order to maximize the profits gained by the NFL and, as a result, the amount they would have to share with the players. But they failed to do that, according to Judge Doty. . .oh, and this little tidbit from the league's 2008 contract with DirecTV.
The extended contract provides that DirecTV will pay a substantial fee if the 2011 season is not cancelled and up to 9% more, at the NFL's discretion, if the 2011 season is cancelled. Of the total amount payable in the event of a cancelled season, 42% of that fee is nonrefundable and the remainder would be credited to the following season. Op. 27, 71-72; Goodell Direct Test. 11. As a result, the NFL could receive substantially more from DirecTV in 2011 if it locks out the Players then if it does not.
This means that the NFL knew that a lockout was coming, and they negotiated a deal that would give them something to fall back on in the event that a lockout happened. The league would have actually found a way to profit more if the season were to be canceled than they would have if the games were to go on as normal.
One would expect the NFL to appeal this ruling to a higher authority, but as it stands now, if the owners don't have that $4 billion cushion behind them, they may be more willing to come to the bargaining table and try to negotiate a deal in good faith, rather than the one they negotiated previously.
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