The Steelers players, frustrated over the lack of movement on the NFL conduct policy, may not ratify the collective bargaining agreement they agreed to on July 25.
There were several issues, including the latitude NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has in levying fines, which could not be negotiated until the players re-certified as a union.
The players re-certified last week but since then, Steelers player representative Ryan Clark said today, there has been no progress in changing the fines system — one in which players claim they have no say or power.
"A big issue for us is Roger Goodell having absolute control over the fines system, judge, jury and appeals," Clark said. "I think for a lot of teams, it wouldn`t be as big a deal but for us it is. We`re the team that gets fined the most and we play a brand of football that, sometimes, subjects us to his opinion. That`s something that really hasn`t been talked about this"
If the Steelers players do not ratify the CBA, the free agents that have not been allowed to practice will remain sidelined. When the players approved the new CBA part of the agreement was that free agents could not practice even if they had signed until the CBA had been ratified.
The commissioner`s powers and drug testing, Clark said, are among the issues that need to be resolved before the players sign off on the CBA.
"Without these things collectively bargained to our satisfaction as player reps, we don`t feel like it`s right to get a deal signed and to get those other guys back to camp if we`re not comfortable going on," Clark said.
Cornerback Ike Taylor is among the Steelers free agents who have not been allowed to practice.
"When they give me the green light, I'm going to be ready," said Taylor, who agreed to a four-year contract with the Steelers on July 26. "For now, I guess it's a yellow light. We'll see if it changes."
Asked if he could prepare for the season on short notice, Taylor replied: "I'm ready now. I took a week off after the Super Bowl. That was it. That should let you know right there."