There will be a very important vote coming up that could change the NFL and create labor peace for another decade. The NFLPA will get together sometime after the Super Bowl and review/vote on the outline of a new CBA that would govern the NFL for the next 10 years, but there is one contentious issue in that deal - a 17-game schedule.
That is the big sticking point according to sources as the rest of the agreement appears to be pretty favorable for the players.
All 32 team player representatives, along with the NFLPA executive board, will meet at an undisclosed location to review a 10-year labor contract for the second time within a week that, as one source described, the players can either “accept the one thing they hate, a 17-game season, in exchange for 10 or more things they want.”
Among the things the players would get include an increase in revenue share, changes in drug-testing policy around marijuana, changes in the on-field discipline fine schedule, and additional benefits for retired players among other things.
One other thing that could change is the ability for teams to give out two tags this season. We’ve previously discussed the quirk in the 2020 final year of the current agreement as it allows both a franchise and transition tag to be placed on players by each team.
This could be beneficial to the Cowboys if they need to tag both Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper in an emergency if negotiations bog down. Obviously they would like to avoid either of those scenarios, but it would be available to the team if they needed it.
That second tag option could go away with ratification of a new agreement.
Goodell also declined to put any sort of timeline on completing the negotiations. The next notable date in that regard is March 18, as that is the beginning of the new league season. If a new CBA is ratified prior to that, it could change some of the procedures involving free agency and the salary cap, such as the current ability of teams to use both a franchise and transition tag in the final year of the current CBA.
It’s being reported that if the new agreement is ratified before the March deadline that it would take effect this year on issues like the bump in revenue sharing for the players. It also could wipe out the two-tag quirk that currently exists.
If the NFLPA decides to vote down the 17-game schedule, things could get dire.
The window for a new agreement to be in place “is closing” with urgency for the owners, who are prepared to table their proposal and play out the last year of the deal, a league source said. That scenario would raise the stakes on another work stoppage next year.
Reports are that the players were uniformly against the 17-game schedule proposal until they started to walk through all the other points of the agreement. That stance appears to be softening, but they still may ask for more concessions from the owners to agree to a 17-game schedule. Stay tuned.