The wait is over. NFL players voted to approve a proposed new CBA that will ensure NFLL labor peace through at least 2030, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter—who said there were 1,019 votes for “yes,” and 959 votes for “no.” There are a lot of changes, but let’s talk about the main ones.
The new CBA will expand the NFL’s playoff field by two teams starting this upcoming season. As early as 2021, owners will have to option to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17 games. Owners have a window from 2021 to 2023 to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17 games. ESPN’s Dan Graziano said that at this point, the two sides hadn’t had substantive discussions about how the 17-game season actually will work—which team gets the extra home game and if there will be more bye weeks—but Graziano still believes it’s very likely to happen.
The players are getting more money in the form of league revenue, which will start in 2021. Effective this year, players will get 47% of all league revenue, which is the same percentage from the current CBA. With extra teams in the playoffs, the NFLPA memo predicted that the playoffs will now generate an estimated $150 million. Doing the math, and that is $70.5 million in the players’ pockets. In 2021 the players will get 48% of all league revenue, and that number could go higher with the new TV deals on the way. Additionally, per the NFLPA memo, if the league’s TV revenues increase by 60%, the players’ share of the revenue will go up to 48.5%, and as high as 48.8% in some cases.
The CBA benefits players that are earning the lowest salaries. About 60% of players operate on minimum-salary deals. Those minimum salaries are increasing by 20%, and that is effective immediately. Here is an example:
A player with less than one year of NFL experience is set to earn $510,000 this year under the current deal. That number rises to $610,000 in 2020 if the new deal is signed, and the minimum salary for players with less than one year of experience rises incrementally throughout the deal, reaching $1.065 million in 2030.
Players with one year of experience to seven or more years of experience are all impacted by this as well, though the full increases won’t take into effect until 2030.
The active roster will increase from 46 to 48 players. There is a stipulation: One of the extra players must be an offensive lineman. Practice squads will expand from ten players to 12 effective immediately. That number jumps to 14 in 2022. The salary for practice squad players is rising as well. Players will go from a minimum of $8,000 per week to $11,500 by 2022. Those players will also be eligible for 401(k) and tuition assistance benefits.
The game week roster sizes will increase from 53 to 55, as two practice squad players per week may be elevated to the team’s roster.
Salary cap jump
The NFL Management Council said the salary cap would be $198.2 million per team in 2020. Teams also have $44.7 million in benefits and performance-based pay. So, the overall player costs per club are $242.9 million. It’s worth noting that the 2021 salary cap and beyond are expected to spike when player revenue goes up with new TV deals on the way. Per Ian Rapoport, as for the start of the league year and free agency still set to begin on Wednesday: NFL officials are currently discussing this with the union now. It’s not the NFL’s unilateral decision. Clarity is coming soon.