The NFL Players Association has officially voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement that will run through the 2030 season. The new NFL CBA, which was approved by owners in February, needed a simple majority to pass and did so by a razor-thin margin, 1,019-959.
With the new NFL CBA now officially in place, the league will see a number of significant changes when the new league year begins on Wednesday.
Under the new NFL CBA, we’ll see a new playoff format and a 17-game schedule
One of the biggest changes under the new NFL CBA will be the 17-game schedule that’s been discussed for years. However, fans will have to wait at least a year for the extra regular-season game. The new agreement contains a window for the 17th game to be added, beginning in 2021 and ending in 2023. The most likely scenario is that this will happen in 2022 when the new television deals are in place.
Expected to begin this year, however, is the new NFL playoff format. A wild-card team will be added to each conference and only the top seed will receive a first-round bye.
Bigger rosters and bigger paydays with fewer padded practices
Under the new NFL CBA, rosters will be getting bigger. Active rosters will go from 53 to 55 and rosters on game day will go from 46 to 48, with the stipulation that one of those extra players must be an offensive lineman. Practice squads will also be getting bigger, expanding to 12 players in 2020 and 2021, and to 14 beginning in 2022.
There will also be fewer padded practices under the new NFL CBA, down to 16 in training camp from 28. Once the 17-game season begins, teams will be limited to 14 padded practices and 11 of those must be held in the first 11 weeks. No practice can be longer than 2.5 hours, down from three hours under the previous agreement.
Players will also see more money. Players who earn league minimums, which is the majority of the players in the league, will receive a 12 percent salary increase. There will also be an increase in performance-based pay and also an uptick in player revenue. It is set at 47 percent in 2020, at least 48 percent in 2021, and the ability to jump to 48.5 in any season the league plays 17 games. It’s estimated that, overall, players will receive an additional $100 million every year.
The new NFL CBA limits teams to just one franchise tag
While it was rare that teams would use both the franchise tag and the transitional tag under the previous agreement, it’s now one or the other, which could put teams like the Dallas Cowboys in an interesting position. The deadline for teams to tag a player for the 2020 season is Monday at 11:59:59 a.m. Eastern.
Retired players will also benefit from the new NFL CBA, as there will be a boost to pensions and increases to benefits.