Yesterday, NFL owners overwhelmingly (but not unanimously) voted on a hammered-out CBA proposal they could live with. Now the players have to decide if that proposal is good enough or not.
Notably, player revenue share is hiked; gameday rosters, overall rosters, and practice squads would increase in size; minimum salaries are increased leaguewide; gambling money is added to the pot; health insurace is improved; and more. There’s even the addition of an emergency offensive lineman to gameday rosters, which would prevent us from having to see Levine Toilolo ever play tackle again.
The gains the players would make under this CBA are real, significant, and (especially for the bulk of the league making the minimum) offer more money in the bank account at the end of the day. After the last CBA did not exactly favor the players, this is a step in the right direction, if nothing else.
Here is the memo that the NFL has accepted the terms of the new proposed CBA: pic.twitter.com/yRYZc3anSB— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 20, 2020
That said, the sticking points are legion—it will forever be weird to me that the owners get a larger slice of the revenue pie than the players, given that the players, you know, play the game—but I’m guessing the 17 game season is the one that has the best chance of derailing the proceedings entirely. An additional game is something the NFL has been hot about for a while now, but that’s additional wear and tear for players, and in the short term anyone making over a $4 million or so can expected a much smaller 17th game check than they’ll get for the other 16. That should be fixed down the line when new contracts are negotiated, but if the new schedule were implemented quickly, guys on long-term deals would feel that pinch.
There’s also the not-so-small matter that a 17th game is little more than a cash grab by the league in the first place, not something that you can compellingly argue is a boon to players, the game, etc. There’s also no mention I can find of an additional bye week, which means still just one week off for players that are already pretty beaten up by the end of the year, and if that bye week comes in say Week 5, the mileage is going to add up.
Will the NFLPA sign off on this deal, ushering in a new CBA? I don’t pretend to know that, but I do know that players I follow on social media seem ambivalent or openly hostile to it. I also know that the NFL and NFL media personalities are spinning the league’s proposal hard as a no-brainer and the league seems eager to get the deal done, which is almost always a sign that players are leaving something significant on the table. You don’t get to be the billionaire owner of an NFL team without consistently finding ways to enrich yourself as the expense of others, and one senses that the 17th game is so important to this group that they’re willing to offer more concessions than usual, but it hardly seems to be what players are searching for.
I’d ultimately expect the NFLPA to vote no on this one, setting up a lot of sniping back and forth until the players draw more concessions from team owners ahead of the 2021 league year. It’s not an ideal scenario, naturally, but I’m in favor of the players getting what the lion’s share of what they want and need and getting the kind of roster expansions and tweaks that should make Sundays more enjoyable for fans like us.