The NFL players voted “yes” to the proposed collective barging agreement, meaning the league will have labor peace until 2030. This is a change from the last CBA negotiations, which resulted in a lockout until late July in 2011. To have the new CBA approved a year before the the 2011 CBA was set to expire is a win for the NFL.
The final vote was 1,019 to 959, the NFLPA released in a statement. There are roughly 2,500 players in the players union, so an estimated 79.1% of the players voted on the CBA.
Since 53.5% of the players voted “yes” and the final tally was so close, player reaction from around the league flooded in after the final vote was released. Free agent-to-be Tom Brady led the contingent of reactions on social media.
The main issue with the players was the expansion of a 16-game season to a 17-game season, which is expected to take effect in 2021. Going to 17 games means the NFL will shorten the preseason from four games to three, as CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora . With a three-game preseason, some teams will have nine home games in the regular season and one home preseason game while other teams would have eight home regular season games and two home preseason games (per the Boston Globe). While that schedule seems imbalanced, the NFL would flip the schedule for the next year to accommodate the teams that had just eight regular season home games from the year prior.
Going to 17 games would result in the reduction of the preseason, but also, another bye week would need to be implemented on the calendar. The NFL actually experimented with two bye weeks in a 16-game schedule in 1993 only to nix it and go back to just one bye week in 1994. With a 17-game schedule, the league would run 19 weeks and the regular season would either have to start Labor Day weekend (like it did from 1990 to 2001) or end past New Year’s Day in mid-January. The NFL has toyed with the idea of having the Super Bowl on President’s Day weekend in the past and an extra bye week would make that possible.
There are 2,500 players in the players union and 1,978 voted, so approximately 79.1% of the players participated in the CBA vote. That didn’t sit well with Baltimore Ravens All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
NFLPA president J.C. Tretter released a statement on the players voting “yes.” Tretter was elected to the position last week.
With the new CBA approved, the playoffs are set to be expanded starting this season. The NFL has had the 12-team playoff format since 1990, with the top two seeds getting first-round byes in each conference. The expansion to a 14-team playoff would drastically alter the current playoff format.
Seven teams from each conference would make the playoffs with only the top seed earning a bye into the divisional round. Six wild card games would be played (No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6, No. 4 vs. No. 5) in a tripleheader slate of games on Saturday and Sunday.
Having the No. 1 seed will be huge in this playoff format, especially since that seed will be the only team with a bye and that team will get home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. No team has won the Super Bowl that played on Wild-Card Weekend since 2013, even though more teams will have the opportunity to break that streak under this new format.
While not every player is happy with the deal, the league will have labor peace for the next decade.