The NFL players voted on March 14 for a new 11-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the owners. Experts had predicted that the deal would pass, so many were surprised by how close the vote was – 1,019 to 959 for a very thin 60-vote margin. The CBA will go into effect later this year and run through 2030.
The changes in the new agreement include:
- There is an option for the addition of a 17th game from 2021 onward.
- Starting this year in 2020, the number of teams who make the playoffs will increase to 14.
- The players will also see an increased cut of the revenue – it will be 47% in 2020 and 48% in 2021 (if the 17-game schedule is introduced).
- The game-day rosters will expand from 53 to 55 players.
- There is an increased ability to send players from the active squad to a larger practice squad twice without having to clear waivers (where another team could sign them).
- There will also be an immediate increase in minimum salaries, with a minimum salary of $1,000,000 by 2029.
- New regulations regarding marijuana, including no suspensions for positive tests, and annual testing limited to first 2 weeks of training camp
These changes will already impact free agent signing and other deals because teams will have more latitude on how to structure deals at the beginning of the NFL fiscal year on March 18, which is also the beginning of free agency for the 2020 season.
Who got the better deal?
The deal appears to benefit the lower-salaried players who will see pay increases. It upgrades the pensions and adds groups of players previously not included in these agreements. It may also provide additional benefits for marquee players whose careers will be shorter than average. The owners, on the other hand, got an extra game (which none of the players wanted) and expanded playoffs.
“We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
Contrary to what Goodell said, the players are still worried that there is not enough player safety and how this will affect their health in the years following their playing days. No doubt, this will be an ongoing conversation in the weeks, months and years to come.