Report: NFL Players Association Planning to Decertify by March 3 As CBA Negotiation War Rages

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After a week-long mediation standoff, the NFL Players Association is prepared to take the NFL to court for the next battle of the labor negotiation war.

Barring the signing of a new contract or an extension, the NFLPA will file for decertification by the March 3 deadline to block a potential lockout, according to various sources.

The association voted on this scenario last season and gave executive director DeMaurice Smith the power to decertify should the situation call for it.  He will need to exercise this power by 11:59 p.m. on March 3 or, according to the current collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA will not be able to file for decertification for another six months.

This course of action would dissolve the union and instead make the league a group of individual, non-union workers.  Players would then be able to file for an injunction that would block the franchise owners from locking them out.  The dissolution of the union would allow individual players to sue the league in front of U.S. District Court judge David S. Doty, who has had jurisdiction over NFL labor issues since 1993 and has a history of siding with the union.

Because of this, the NFL will attempt to block the union from decertifying.  On Feb. 14, the league accused the union of failing to honestly negotiate.

"The Union's strategy amounts to an unlawful anticipatory refusal to bargain," the league wrote in its written charge to the National Labor Relations Board.

"As in the past, the NFLPA's threatened disclaimer as the representatives of the players, together with the now-familiar antitrust litigation that is expected to follow, is a ploy and an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process."

The NFLPA has reportedly approached various stars and players with franchise tags to be part of the antitrust lawsuit should the union decertify.  Some of these players include Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Logan Mankins.

Should these players succeed in their legal actions, they could become unrestricted free agents.

Federally mediated negotiations suspended last Thursday and are set to resume on Tuesday, despite the threat of decertification. 

Both sides are locked in a battle over a longer 18-game regular season, a rookie wage scale, pensions for former players and how to divide league revenue.

Mediator George Cohen seems less than optimistic about the current situation.

"Some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues."

Unless they can agree upon an extension or a new CBA, which would eliminate the need of a courtroom clash or lockout, it is likely that this tense battle between the NFLPA and NFL will last far past the March 3 deadline. The NFLPA has already stated that they expect to be locked out. The league, however, isn't required to instate a lockout should the deadline pass; if they declare an impasse, the NFL can revert to "the last, best offer as the new set of rules, pending a formal agreement," according to ProFootballTalk.com.

"If the league declares impasse and imposes the last, best offer, the union then would have to decide whether to work under those rules, or whether to strike."

While it is unknown exactly how things will unfold, the fans aren't the only ones in the dark, and only time will tell if there will be football in the fall, but a source for Yahoo! Sports simplified the situation into one brief statement.

"We're as far apart as we ever have been on the critical issues."

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