The controversy over the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement was the story of the early offseason. Owners were willing to pump up salaries, add long-awaited benefits, and move player revenue share in the right direction. Players were split on whether those measures were enough, especially considering owners still get a majority of all revenue and they’re gunning for a 17th game, which virtually no players or fans actually seem to want.
In the end, it was put to a vote, and players passed the new CBA by just 60 votes. The new agreement will (likely) ensure peace between the two sides through 2030, and is one more hurdle to free agency kicking off as scheduled on Thursday.
Owners conceded several important things for players, but I have to imagine they’re thrilled this thing passed. Players who are making at or near the minimum also have to be pleased, given that their salaries and benefits will be more robust than they were before. Given that most players fall under that category, it’s not overly surprising that this ultimately passed. Star players were, by and large, not thrilled with this pact, and will likely to continue to say so in the weeks ahead.
In the end, as an outside observer who is generally on the side of players rather than owners as a matter of course, I don’t think this deal was the best one the players could’ve gotten. They’re getting a 17th game, which has a host of player safety and health ramifications while further lining owners’ pockets, and the 17th game increased the player revenue share from 48% to 48.5%. That’s millions of dollars, but it’s not much of a concession for absolutely loaded owners, and chances are TV and streaming revenue for the league will continue to be so absurd that a bigger slice of the pie would’ve made a massive difference to players.
For fans like us hoping the league year starts at time and we can whittle away our time in isolation keeping up with free agency, this is at least an encouraging sign. We’ll have to wait and see if everything still goes off on time or not.