NFL Players Approve New CBA
Agreement would expand season and increase minimum salaries
By a slim margin, NFL players have voted to approve a 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will ensure labor peace through 2030 and bring some of the biggest changes to the game in decades.
The new CBA passed by a vote of 1,019 voting Yes and 959 voting No. The 60 vote margin reflects the division on the deal between players. UCOMM previously reported that some superstar players like Aaron Rodgers and Richard Sherman were advocating for a no vote. This was largely due to the fact that the new CBA will extend the season to 17 games for the 2021 season.
Other changes include in the deal are an expanded playoff to include two more teams. The expansion of the playoffs is estimated to generate an extra $150 Million for the league. Players would be entitled to 47% of that money ($70.5 Million) and starting in 2021 that number will increase to 48% of league revenue. There are also increases based on increased TV revenues.
The deal also includes significant bumps for the lowest-paid players. About 60% of NFL players are on league minimum contracts. These players will see their salaries increase by about 20%. Currently, a player with less than one year of experience makes a league minimum of $510,000. Now that minimum will be bumped up to $610,000. Over the next ten years, it will incrementally increase to $1.065 million. It is hard to vote against a deal that would turn rookies into millionaires. Other experience levels will also see raises in line with rookie raises.
The deal will also expand rosters. Teams will now be able to carry 48 players on their roster (up from 46), although one extra player must be an offensive lineman. Practice squads will also expand from 10 players to 12 in 2020. Another expansion to 14 will happen in 2022. Additionally, practice squad salaries are going up from $8,000 to $11,500.
One of the big changes that didn’t get a lot of attention is the CBA’s change to the league's drug policy. Players will no longer be suspended for positive marijuana tests. Instead, players will be tested in the first two weeks of training camp and anyone who tests positive, at a higher threshold than before, would be sent to a medical board. The board would review the case and determine whether the player needs treatment for addiction. The idea is to focus on caring for the players instead of punishing them. This has become a big issue in the league as numerous states have made marijuana legal. There have also been quite a few players who have had multiple suspension due to positive marijuana tests.
With this new marijuana policy, it is time to ask, will the league now address the use and abuse of painkillers like Vicadin? Anyone who has played the sport can understand how grueling it can be on their bodies and we have all heard stories about players abusing them so they can get up in the morning or play through a serious injury. Will the league now allow players to be prescribed marijuana to address aches and pains? It may not be a bad idea and it could keep them off of the more dangerous opioid painkillers.
While there was a lot of noise around rejecting the CBA, in the end, the increased salaries for the majority of players seemed to outweigh concerns about a longer season. While the players are clearly divided on the new deal, fans are sure to be happy as it guarantees 10 years of games without interruption.