The NFL has spoken.
NFL players voted to approve a proposed new collective bargaining agreement with the league's owners, ensuring NFL labor peace through at least 2030. The vote was tight, with 1,019 "yes" votes and 959 "no" votes.
The new CBA will expand the NFL's playoff field by two teams starting with the 2020 season and allow owners the option to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17 games as early as 2021.
But those are only the big-headline items. More than just a deal to increase the number of games played each season, this is a document that will establish and govern the rules under which the game is played, contracts are negotiated and rules are administered for the next 11 years, through the 2030 season.
You said 11 years? I thought this was a 10-year deal.
Yeah, important point there, and it depends on how you look at it. The proposed new deal runs through 2030, which means it runs for 10 years after the current deal was set to expire. There are significant changes to certain rules and league structures that will go into effect in 2020 if the deal is approved by the players, however.
All right. And the 17-game season?
Owners will have a window from 2021 to 2023 to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17 games, should they choose to do so (and it's expected they will).
I thought the players didn't want that.
Some don't, and that's the reason the voting process at the NFLPA leadership level has been so contentious. Expanding the regular season is not a well-liked idea among NFL players who already view 16 as too hard on their bodies, so they want to make sure they're getting enough in return to justify agreeing to something they don't want to do.
So, what are the players getting?
For starters, more money, in the form of a higher share of league revenue beginning in 2021. This year, players will get 47% of all league revenue, in keeping with their number from the current CBA. The expansion of the postseason by two teams will generate an estimated $150 million, according to the NFLPA memo, and 47% of that is $70.5 million. So that will be additional revenue going to the players that they wouldn't have received without the playoff expansion.
Which players will benefit the most from the new system?
It seems the lower-earning players -- roughly 60% of NFL players operate on minimum-salary deals -- will get the most significant bumps in pay, at least right at the beginning. Minimum salaries are increasing by around 20% immediately. A player with less than one year of NFL experience is set to earn $510,000 this year under the current deal. That number rises to $610,000 in 2020 if the new deal is signed, and the minimum salary for players with less than one year of experience rises incrementally throughout the deal, reaching $1.065 million in 2030.
And the expanded season? Is this just the beginning? Is the NFL eventually going to 18 games?
Not until 2031 at the earliest. This deal specifies that 17 is the maximum number of games that can be played in any of its seasons. The deal also limits the number of international games the league can hold to 10 in any season through 2025. After that, players and owners could meet to determine whether more international games are warranted. If a team plays more than one international game in a season, its players each get $5,000 stipends for each additional game. This will help offset the tax implications of, say, the Jaguars having to play two home games a year in London.
By www.espn.com / Dan Graziano - ESPN Staff Writer