With the NFL owners hoping to have a new collective bargaining agreement in place by day’s end Friday, the brakes were applied on the process by the NFL Players Association, which opted not to vote to ratify the deal on Friday, delaying that process until next week, according to reports.
NFL team owners on Thursday voted to approve a potential new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the players that would last through 2029. The key changes the owners are requesting include expanding the regular season from 16 games to 17 games, expanding the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams and increasing the players’ revenue share from 47 percent to 48 percent.
The NFLPA Executive Committee was to vote first to recommend it to the 32 player representatives for a vote that had been expected to take place Friday afternoon. But the executive committee voted 6-5 against recommending the currently proposed CBA early in the day and the 32 player reps opted to postpone taking a vote until next week, according to multiple reports.
The vote still is expected to take place next week despite an NFLPA statement that said its board of representatives has declined to vote on a recommendation in hopes of further meetings with NFL management.
“Today, the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives did not take a vote on the principal terms of a proposed new collective bargaining agreement,” the NFLPA statement read. “The Executive Committee looks forward to meeting with NFL management again next week before the Board takes a vote shortly after.”
A conference call for the 32 player reps had been scheduled for Friday afternoon. They were expected to focus on key terms of the agreement including expanding the regular season to 17 games and expanding the playoff field to seven teams in each conference, according to ESPN. Other points included an increased share of revenue for players, increased spending minimums for clubs, changes to the league’s drug policy regarding marijuana, a modified on-field discipline fine schedule and increased benefits for former players.
The current CBA was ratified in 2011 and is set to expire following the 2020 season. If approved by the players, the new CBA could reportedly go into effect in time for the new league year, which begins March 18.
Reports said union leaders were still working out specific details on the next steps toward a vote. But an ESPN report said owners are not going to be receptive to further talks on the proposed CBA, essentially making this a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.
The strange twist to Friday’s proceedings was the fact the executive committee that voted 6-5 against the NFL’s proposal is the same group responsible for negotiating the deal with league owners in the first place.
Nevertheless, a number of high-profile players, including vice presidents Russell Okung of the Chargers and Richard Sherman of the 49ers, as well as Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, had come out publicly opposing the deal, perhaps causing Friday’s pause by the executive committee.