- NFL players are voting this week on a new collective bargaining agreement.
- The new deal would extend the regular season to 17 games, bring two more teams into the postseason, and in exchange, increase the players' share of the revenue.
- While several star players have voiced their objections to the proposed CBA, the deal is a tempting offer to players who haven't signed a mega-deal yet, thanks to an injection of new money that will significantly benefit those making the league minimum.
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This week, NFL players are voting on a new collective bargaining agreement that could potentially set the terms for the next decade of professional football.
The new deal could come with some big changes, including increasing the regular season to 17 games, adding two teams to the postseason, and reducing the teams that receive a first-round bye in the playoffs to just the top team in each conference.
In exchange for the extra week of regular season football, players would see an increase in their share of league revenue, which currently sits at 47%, as well as some smaller wins on grounds such as offseason workouts, expanded rosters, and a more relaxed drug testing policy.
Several superstar players have publicly voiced their dissent of the proposed deal.
Aaron Rodgers, who serves as a player representative for the Packers, said that he voted "no" on the deal, citing the risks involved with the added game as his reason for concern.
Richard Sherman also said he voted "no," saying that the "health and wellness of our men is always the most important aspect. "
JJ Watt was also emphatic in his dismissal of the new deal, saying "Hard no on that proposed CBA."
In addition to the dangers that an extra game presents to the players, the 17-game schedule is also the strongest point of leverage that the players have while negotiating with the owners towards a new collective bargaining agreement — if they don't get everything they want out of a deal that involves a 17-game schedule, there's a good chance it will take an 18-game schedule in their next round of negotiations to further their interests.
But despite concerns from some of the top stars in the sport, there is reason to think that enough players further down the depth charts of the NFL might want to push through with the proposed CBA.
As Sports Illustrated's Andrew Brandt explained in his thorough breakdown of the proposed offer, the new deal also comes with an immediate influx of cash that would largely benefit players on the margins of NFL rosters.
It's a savvy move by the owners and puts players who have not signed a huge multi-million dollar contract in a position where they must weigh their own financial interests in their vote.
As Buccaneers linebacker and member of the Players Board of Representatives Sam Acho explained, the deal presents plenty of benefits to players signed to minimum contracts.
The result of the current proposed CBA is a split between those players who have already secured generational wealth and those who are unsure if a second contract is going to come their way. In a league where the average career lasts just three or four years, it's understandable that those closer to the bottom of the roster would be eager to sign onto a plan that means more money in the immediate future.
Players have until midnight on Saturday to vote, with a simple majority needed to pass the proposed deal.
Should the deal pass, the stakes of the NFL are set for the next decade. Should it fail, the existing CBA still has a year left, during which players and owners will have to once again negotiate in order to reach a new proposal that can pass with a majority of player votes.
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