INDIANAPOLIS — The National Football League Players Association on Sunday announced its members have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which was previously approved by league owners. What are some of the highlights of the new CBA?
» New terms: Some terms of the new CBA start going into effect immediately, and the agreement between the league and the NFLPA will be in place through the 2030 season. According to the NFLPA, the players' final vote was 1,019 in favor of the proposed CBA and 959 against.
"This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution," the NFLPA said in a statement on Sunday. "An independent auditor received submitted ballots through a secure electronic platform, then verified, tallied and certified the results."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also released a statement on the ratification of the new CBA on Sunday.
"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," Goodell said. "We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement."
» 17-game regular season?: One of the biggest expected changes enacted by the new CBA is the potential for the regular season to expand from 16 to 17 games as early as the 2021 season.
According to NFL.com’s Judy Battista, the NFL now "has a window to add the 17th regular-season game beginning in 2021 and ending in 2023 — and 2022 seems to be the most logical time, because all of the new broadcast contracts will be in place by then."
How the league will handle scheduling for that extra regular season game is yet to be revealed.
And if and when the regular season expands to 17 games, the preseason is expected to go from four games to three games; the fourth preseason game, traditionally played on a Thursday night, is expected to be eliminated, paving the way for a "bye week" for each team before opening up the regular season.
» Expanded playoffs: Another huge change with the new CBA — this one starting immediately, with the 2020 season — is an expanded playoff field. Now the AFC and NFC will each have seven, not six, playoff teams, adding an extra game in each conference during Wild Card weekend.
As a result, only the No. 1 seeds in the AFC and the NFC will earn a first-round bye; previously, the top two seeds earned a bye.
What are the implications of an expanded postseason? According to NFL analyst Warren Sharp, if each conference had an extra team in the playoffs the last 10 years, then five 10-win teams, nine nine-win teams and six eight-win teams would've earned postseason berths.
» Roster expansion: There will be some significant changes to active and practice squad rosters under the new CBA:
— The active gameday roster will increase from 46 players to 48, including eight offensive linemen.
— Practice squads will be expanded from 10 to 12 players in 2020-21 and then to 14 players in 2022. There is also now no limitation on the number of years a player can be on the practice squad.
— According to the NFLPA, "Practice Squad Players elevated to the Active list may be returned to the Practice Squad without having to go through waivers 2 times. Two Practice Squad players each week may be elevated to the Active/Inactive list (increasing the Active/Inactive roster to 54 or 55)."
— An additional player may be designated-to-return from Injured Reserve; previously a team could attempt to return two players from IR, and now that number is three.
» Work rules: The ratified CBA puts in place some new work rules for players:
— There will now be a five-day "acclimation period" at the start of training camp for players — up from three days — "with clear activity limitations." Staying in training camp, post-acclimation practices are limited to four hours total on the field, with a 2.5-hour maximum for the first practice. There will also be no more than three consecutive days in pads and a maximum of 16 total padded practices during training camp.
— If/when the preseason is reduced to three games, each team will be limited to four total joint practices; that increases to six total joint practice days if the preseason is ever reduced to fewer than three games.
— In the regular season, players now get a mandatory three days off after a Thursday game, unless their team plays again the following Thursday.
» Dollars and cents: NFL players will see increases in league revenue, resulting in higher salaries over the course of the next several years:
— Starting in 2021, players will now receive 48 percent of league revenue, up from 47 percent. That can increase to 48.5 percent due to a media kicker in any season the NFL plays 17 regular season games.
— Minimum salaries for rookies will increase $100,000 in 2020 to $710,000; that will increase to $760,000 in 2021, with $45,000 increases each year after that.
— Minimum salaries for non-rookies increases at least $90,000 in 2020, $80,000 to $105,000 in 2021 and $45,000 each year after that.
— Practice squad players receive raises of $10,500 per week.
— Players on teams that earn a bye week on Wild Card weekend will now receive postseason pay.
— Starting in 2021, postseason pay amounts for players increase to $42,500 (Wild Card Division winners), $37,500 (other Wild Card teams), $42,500 (Divisional Round), $65,000 (Conference Championship teams), $150,000 (Super Bowl winners) and $75,000 (Super Bowl losers), with increases thereafter on a yearly basis.