NFL players approve new CBA: Everything you need to know about the ratifications

Brendan Carpenter
NFL, Football
NFL, Football

Players across the NFL have voted on and approved a new collective bargaining agreement. The vote, which was finished with 1,019 votes for “yes” and 959 for “no,” allows for labor peace until at least 2030. Along with this, numerous changes are set to occur across the league.

Expanded playoff format

The playoffs have consisted of 12 teams for a substantial amount of time. Now, it will consist of 14, starting next season. With seven teams now on each side of the playoff bracket, only the top team in each one will get a bye. The number-2 team in each conference will now play the newly added seventh-seed. If this were already the case, the Steelers and the Rams, a previous runner-up, would have been in the playoffs.

Longer regular season

Instead of playing 16 games in a 17-week window, teams will now play 17 games if owners agree to this, which they are expected to. There has not been a documented discussion yet about how this would work. Whether there would be additional bye weeks or not, some teams would have had one more away game, and some would have another home game.

This comes after a long, continuous debate about whether or not the regular season should be shortened. Many players have shared their views, with numerous players sharing that the 16 games are already too hard on their bodies.

Whatever the team owners decide, they have a window of 2021 to 2023 to do so.

Larger player revenue share

Players will get 47% of all league revenue this upcoming season. This could be a total of $70.5 million as the newly expanded playoff format is expected to bring in around $150 million, according to the NFLPA memo.

Starting in 2021, players could get an increase in that percentage, up to 48% of league revenue. Also stated in the memo, if the league’s TV revenue increases by 60%, the players’ revenue share increases to 48.5%. If the TV revenue increases by at least 120%, the players’ share would increase to 48.8%.

Regardless, the players will be making more money. This impacts the players with lower-end salaries the most.

Expanded rosters

All rosters will be expanded from 46 active spots to 48 for game-day. There is one specific aspect of this, though: one of the additional roster spots must be for an offensive lineman. The overall rosters will increase from 53 to 55 as a result.

Practice squads will also gain two more spots, ultimately going up to 12 total for next season. For the 2021 season, the total amount of spots will go up two more to 14.

Franchise and transition tags

Teams will still be able to use franchise and transition tags. However, there will be a change in the format at the end of this deal in 2030. At that time, teams will not have the ability to use two tags in the same offseason. Teams will have that ability now if this year does turn out to be the final year of the current deal.

Rookie deals

There are numerous additions to rookie contracts in the new CBA deal. First off, there is a new player performance escalator that can drastically impact salaries.

Players drafted in the second round will now be eligible for the escalator that previously only applied to players drafted in rounds three through seven if these players play a certain percentage of their teams’ snaps during their first three seasons, their fourth-year salary increases.

Players drafted outside the first round will also be eligible for the new escalator that is based on Pro Bowl selections.

The distinction when calculating fifth-year options between top-10 draft picks and picks 11 to 32 is now gone. Each players’ fifth-year option will be based strictly on performance. Also, if the fifth-year option is exercised for a player, that option will be fully guaranteed. Teams will have to decide on the option before the player’s fourth season.

Drug testing and punishment

The new CBA will eliminate suspension for testing positive for marijuana. The threshold for testing positive will also increase from 35 nanograms of THC to 150. The testing period for this will be limited to the first two weeks of training camp as well.

For performance-enhancing drugs, a first failed test for diuretics or stimulants will result in a two-game suspension. A second failed test will be a suspension of five games.

A first failed test for anabolic steroids will be a six-game suspension. A second failed test for anabolic steroids will result in a 17-game suspension.

The punishment and suspension for a DUI will now be increased to three games.

Players who have been suspended will now be allowed at their team facilities during the second half of the suspension as well.

Bottom line

With all of these changes, the league is undoubtedly evolving. With the NFL salary cap also increasing to $198.2 million, teams have many new ideas to get accustomed to. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and is implemented in upcoming seasons.