Saturday was a very significant day for the NFL. Players had until 11:59 PM ET to cast their votes on the Collective Bargaining Agreement proposal that owners previously approved themselves. There has been a lot riding on this vote.
On Sunday morning, it was reported that players approved the deal and there will officially be labor peace in the NFL through 2030.
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
What does a new CBA mean? One franchise or transition tag for teams going forward. $700M extra dollars in all for 2020 — including a $100K increase in minimums. And labor peace.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2020
There will be a lot of information about the new CBA that is revealed over the course of the next week, for instance we will find out more details on if say Randy Gregory has a chance at returning to the NFL, but the thing that will impact most teams is that the road is now paved for a 17-game regular season.
A more immediate result of the new CBA that all teams will feel will be an extra playoff team per conference beginning this season. On top of that, only the top overall seeds will earn a first-round bye meaning that a total of two teams get them and a total of 14 teams make the postseason.
The Dallas Cowboys are now going to feel an immediate impact
For now, the biggest impact is felt by the Dallas Cowboys among a handful of other teams. Had things pressed forward under the old CBA (which was set to expire next year) all teams would have had the ability to utilize both the franchise and transition tags this offseason. With a new CBA in place that option is no longer available - there is only one tag per team.
This is, of course, a big deal considering the Dallas Cowboys have to figure out how they are going to handle two different free agents in Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott. With one tag available the Cowboys are now obviously under pressure to get a long-term extension done with one of these players (it feels like it will be Cooper) so that when they do place the franchise tag on someone (likely Dak Prescott) the other does not hit the open market.
We note that the timings here are all on a “for now” basis. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused most of the sports world to shut down (among many worlds) and while there is no actual football to be played the logistics of free agency happening amidst what is going on in our world appear difficult to say the least. There is no word on Sunday morning as of 10:30 AM ET (the timing of this writing), but it is possible that the NFL decides to delay the start of the league year which would in turn delay the beginning of free agency. They could even choose to delay the deadline for which teams have to place the franchise tag. As of this moment, the Cowboys have not used theirs.
ProFootballTalk theorized as this past week ended that the league would in fact wait to announce such a decision under after the CBA was voted through (so as not to jeopardize the vote). PFT noted that the league is aware of the optics involved with the league pressing on amidst a worldwide issue of this magnitude.
We will keep you updated here at BTB on all of this as more information becomes available.