Thirteen thoughts about the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, which was approved by the teams on Thursday and passed along to the union:
1. It was never going to be easy, right? The teams’ approval wasn’t going to be immediately followed by the players’ rubber-stamping. On Friday morning, NFL Network reported the NFLPA’s executive committee had voted 6-5 to not recommend the proposal and a vote the 32-man board of team representatives was postponed.
2. In a statement, the NFLPA said it “looking forward to meeting with NFL management next week.” That’s better than just saying, “No deal,” and then stew about it. The union released their fact sheet Thursday night, which allowed everybody to digest key points of the proposal.
3. I like the option for players to be paid over 34 weeks instead of the standard 17 weeks and since I like regular-season and playoff football, I’m all for 17 games (won’t be this year) and the playoff field expanding to 14 teams (likely be this year).
4. The 10-game season ticket plan was crucial for the owners, be it one preseason/nine regular season or two preseason/eight regular season. In that respect, this CBA will be the status quo.
5. The three-game preseason is still one too long. I would expect coaches to play their starters only in the second preseason game, giving them 25-30 snaps of fine-tuning before Week 1. The CBA proposal allows for four joint practices, which can fit into two sets of practices (two workouts apiece).
6. In a 17-game model, when will the season start? The NFL is currently against starting the season before Labor Day. That would push the playoffs into mid-January and the Super Bowl into mid-February. It’s been speculated for years the NFL wants to take advantage of a mid-February sports calendar that is empty save for the Daytona 500 and the NBA and NHL All-Star Games.
7. In the new playoff format, Wild Card Weekend will be awesome — tripleheaders on Saturday and Sunday (likely at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Denver time). The downside for teams is only the top seed gets a bye. That means No. 2 Kansas City would have had to host No. 7 Pittsburgh in 2019 instead of getting the weekend off.
8. I looked back at the Broncos’ last eight playoff appearances (2003-05 and 2011-15) to see how the 14-team format would have impacted them. In 2005, the second-seeded Broncos would have had to face No. 7 Kansas City in round 1. And in 2014, the second-seeded Broncos would have had to host a No. 7 team that went 9-7 (Buffalo, Houston, Kansas City or the Chargers based on the tiebreakers).
9. Highly-paid veteran players will understandably disagree with a $250,000 cap put on the Game 17 salaries. But the other side is increased salaries of $100,000 for rookies, followed by $50,000 in 2021 and $45,000 each year after that.
10. Having an emergency offensive lineman ready to play, like the No. 3 quarterback in the old days, is a smart move because it means teams won’t have to put tight ends or defensive lineman in the game along the O-line in case of emergency.
11. The fifth-year option system for first-round picks is being overhauled. Currently, if a team picks up a player’s fifth-year option, that salary is guaranteed only for injury. Under the new CBA, it will be fully guaranteed if exercised. That may put more first-round picks on the market after four years if teams aren’t committed to them.
12. The new CBA will benefit fringe players because the practice squad size will increase from 10 to 12 players and those players will earn a minimum of $10,500 per week.
13. Finally, the drug policy. A huge win for the players. The testing window is cut from four months to two weeks at the start of training camp. Players can’t be suspended for a failed test. The number of players subjected to testing is reduced. And the nanogram limit increases from 35 to 150.