According to a report by ESPN’S Adam Schefter on Sunday morning, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will include a 17-game season, an expanded playoff picture, an increase of revenue share for players, and added benefits for former players. The agreement passed with just 51.5% of players voting “Yes” on the new deal.
Sources to ESPN: NFL players voted to approve the proposed CBA, giving the NFL 10 more years of labor peace, players an increased share of revenue, former players added benefits, and the league 17-game regular seasons along with an expanded playoff field.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2020
The final vote: 1019 YES against 959 NO. So, very close, but a new CBA is passed and agreed to.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2020
Marlon Humphrey of the Baltimore Ravens pointed out that 500 or so players did not even vote, which could have had a significant impact given the margin of only 60 votes.
Around 500 players didn’t even vote on the new CBA smh— Marlon Humphrey (@marlon_humphrey) March 15, 2020
Under the revised playoff format — which should begin in 2020, while the 17-game season should likely begin in 2021 — the LA Rams would have made the postseason last year.
Here's what last year's NFL playoff picture would have looked like under the new CBA. pic.twitter.com/glgTube9P5— ESPN (@espn) March 15, 2020
With the CBA approved, the expanded, 14-team playoff field goes into effect immediately for the 2020 season.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2020
The 17-game schedule does not, and is subject to a lever the league can pull in concert with new TV deals.
Normally people would start asking questions about the CBA itself or what this means for next season, but given the highly unusual circumstances at large in the world right now, many are wondering if the next move is to delay the start of free agency, which was set to begin at 4 PM ET on Monday with the opening of the tampering window. Teams can begin to officially sign players on Wednesday, but many wonder if now is the appropriate time to do so and teams likely won’t be able to physically meet with many of their prospective signings due to travel restrictions and safety concerns.
UPDATE: The NFL has told teams that free agency will move forward on schedule
Now official. NFL sent memo to teams, informing them: Negotiation window noon tomorrow. League year weds. Franchise designation ends tomorrow at noon. Official.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2020
NFL says NFLPA would not provide consent to move league year, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2020
NFLPA says: No one is traveling anyway. It’s not football activity, it’s deals. Everyone is working remotely. Let’s do our business remotely. And this could get worse before it gets better. So do it now.
Not that this completely precludes conducting free agency over Skype or what have you, but it does complicate matters significantly and we have no guarantees that the 2020 NFL season will begin on time. Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly reported that his sources say that the NFL has already called off the draft in Las Vegas and that the draft itself will be postponed until no earlier than mid-to-late May.
According to my sources NFL Draft extravaganza in Las Vegas is already off, just not announced yet, and actual Draft will be postponed until mid to late May as soon as NFLPA decision on new CBA is announced.— Hub Arkush (@Hub_Arkush) March 15, 2020
If that turned out to be true, consider how vital that lost month would be for incoming rookies and teams, knowing that it would be less than two months away from the opening of training camp. But nobody can predict that teams will even be able to hold training camps by August.
As the NBA, NHL, MLS and many other professional leagues around the world go on hiatus, and NCAA men’s basketball finishes its season without a tournament, predicting tomorrow in sports has become impossible. Today, it looks like the NFL and NFLPA have settled what they needed to settle to prepare for the next 10 years. We now wait to see what the league decides on for the next 10 days.