NFL owners have approved a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a 17-game regular season and an expanded postseason, advancing a plan to bring major changes to the league.
Under the terms of a proposed CBA approved by the NFL’s 32 teams on Thursday, the current 16-game regular season would be extended to 17 games, while the league would trim its preseason schedule from four to three games. In addition, the current postseason format would be altered. The top seven teams from each 16-team conference would be eligible for the playoffs, with first-round byes awarded to only the top-seeded teams in the AFC and NFC.
Should it move forward, the proposed CBA would result in some of the biggest changes to the NFL’s regular-season and postseason structures in decades, though it is by no means final. It still has to be approved by two-thirds of the NFL Players Association’s 32 union representatives, followed by a majority vote from all players. Once the players vote–it is uncertain at this point when the vote will take place–they will have several terms to consider. More from The New York Times:
The players, when they vote, will have to weigh several factors, perhaps chiefly the question of whether they will be receiving enough concessions from the owners for agreeing to an extra regular-season game.
The proposal, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, calls for the players’ revenue share to increase from its current rate of about 47 percent to 48 percent or 48.5 percent if there is a 17th regular-season game. It would also provide ostensible improvements in player safety, like new limits on the demands of training camp, the introduction of a longer acclimation period in camp, better benefits, higher minimum salaries and expanded rosters.
The transformation of the N.F.L. calendar would mean a significant overhaul for a league that has not added games to the regular season since 1978 or teams to the postseason since 1990. In return for adding a 17th regular-season game, the league would eliminate a preseason game — dropping from four to three.
The expanded playoffs would have seven teams from each 16-team conference, with only the top-seeded team in each receiving a first-round bye, a move that some argue could make the end of the season more competitive. Currently, six teams from each conference advance to the postseason, with the top two earning byes.
“The membership voted today to accept the negotiated terms on the principal elements of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement,” read a portion of a statement issued by the NFL Thursday. “The Players Association would also need to vote to approve the same terms for there to be a new agreement.
Since the clubs and players need to have a system in place and know the rules that they will operate under by next week, the membership also approved moving forward under the final year of the 2011 CBA if the players decide not to approve the negotiated terms. Out of respect for the process and our partners at the NFLPA, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The proposed CBA would replace the current deal between the NFL and NFLPA, which went into effect in 2011 and is set to run through March 2021. If this plan does move forward, it would bring some sweeping changes to the regular season and postseason. Reported terms of the proposed CBA were not met favorably by some high-profile players Thursday, and there have been concerns that an expanded regular season would run counter to efforts to improve player safety. Meanwhile, NFLPA president Eric Winston stressed on Twitter Thursday that no agreement is final until players take their vote.
There has been a flood of information on the potential of a new cba. To our players: your player leadership has been working tirelessly. This is a business deal and no deal is finalized until the players vote.
— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) February 20, 2020
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