New England Patriots

Jan 31, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks during the NFLPA press conference in advance of the Super Bowl LIII where the New England Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3, 2019 at Mercedes_Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt McCarthy,

It’s no secret that the relations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association have been strained in recent years.

Now, the head of the NFLPA is recommending that players start saving their money to prepare for a work stoppage in 2021.

According to Liz Mullen of The Sports Business Journal, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith sent an e-mail to player agents telling them to advise their clients to save money in the event of a strike or lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires.

Mullen added that Smith claims the NFLPA is ready to dig in for the long haul, if a work stoppage becomes a reality.

The current collective bargaining agreement was struck in August of 2011 after the owners locked the players out.

This is not the first time the NFLPA has gone public with talk of a work stoppage in 2021. In 2017, Smith told Albert Breer of The MMQB that a lockout or a strike when the current CBA expires is “almost a virtual certainty.”

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the players are expected to fight for a number of changes in the new deal, including more guarantees in contracts, an increase in their 47 percent share of revenues, and alterations to the league’s personal conduct policy.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.