On Thursday, the NFL owners voted to send a proposal for the new collective bargaining agreement to the players union. While the full proposal that will be discussed in a conference call on Friday by the 32 team representatives — a group including New England Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater — has not been made public, the NFLPA sent out a fact sheet to its members outlining the main takeaways from the owners’ CBA plan.
Sports attorney Darren Heitner got a hand on that sheet and shared it on Twitter:
The NFLPA has sent all players a fact sheet that covers the highlights on the current proposal for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. A lot to go through here.. pic.twitter.com/tzOhyLOmhY— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) February 21, 2020
While the entire sheet is worth taking a closer look at, let’s focus on some of the major takeaways from the proposal that could very well decide the fate of the owners’ CBA plan in the upcoming hours and days.
The financial framework for the 17-game regular season
It is no secret that the NFL owners want to further increase revenue by looking to alter the playoff structure — something not mentioned in the fact sheet — and add a 17th game to the regular season. This will naturally be a key point of debate in the upcoming CBA discussions within the NFLPA, and the proposal gives us some information as to how the financial structure around a 17-game season would look like.
For one, the players’ revenue share would go up from the proposed 48% to 48.5% in every regular season that has 17 games in it. However, the value of that 17th game check would look a lot different and be capped at $250,000. This, of course, is significantly less than some players are making on a week-to-week basis: per the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan, a total of 271 players would receive less for game No. 17 compared to the other 16.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, for example, would get only $250,000 if the proposal is ratified compared to the $656,250 he usually makes. That being said, this cap would only be applied to players whose contracts were “negotiated before the 17th game is instituted,” according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Still, the game’s biggest stars would have to take the field at a discount rate for one game per season.
Practice squad and active roster changes
Under the current CBA, each team can employ a 10-player practice squad outside of its regular 53-man roster. The proposal calls for an increase of that number up to 12 and eventually 14 at a later point. Furthermore, two slots would be available for players with unlimited NFL experience — something that is not the case at the moment as only players with no more than two accrued seasons are eligible to join a team’s practice squad.
This proposed change would result in veteran players unable to make a 53-man roster to still stay in the league and receive a weekly pay check — one that would increase by $10,500 per week.
Furthermore, teams would be allowed to activate an extra offensive lineman under a rule change similar to the old No. 3 quarterback rule. This 54th active player would essentially be a reserve lineman who could be put into the game if another one goes down and is unable to return.
A bigger “proven performance” pool
Each offseason, under the league’s so-called “proven performance” scheme, players drafted in round three or later are rewarded based on the number of snaps they play in relation to the contract they have signed: a player’s fourth-year salary would make a jump if he — to quote Over the Cap — “participated in either 35% of a team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or in 35% of all offensive or defensive snaps over his entire first three years.”
Patriots guard Joe Thuney is an example for this, as he saw his 2019 salary increase from from $720,000 to $1.995 million based on the fact that he was a three-year starter along the offensive line entering the final year of his rookie deal. The league would expand this performance-based payout scheme under the new CBA proposal to also include second-round draft picks while adding a yet to be defined “Super Escalator” in the fourth year.
Increased minimum salaries
The CBA proposal calls for an increase of pay for players under minimum contracts. For rookie deals, the proposal would add an increase of $100,000 with another of $50,000 coming in 2021 and a $45,000 growth each year after that. Furthermore, other minimum-salaried players would receive added pay as well: at least $90,000 in 2020 with an increase of $80,000 to $105,000 in 2021, and then another $45,000 increase each following season.
New restricted free agent tender sheets
Teams have three options to tender restricted free agents under the current CBA: place either a first- or second-round tender on a player, or use the original-round sheet. This structure would remain the same under the proposed CBA, but the value of each tender would increase with first- and second-round sheets being worth $250,000 more and original-round sheets increasing by $100,000.
In 2020, New England has two restricted free agents that would benefit from this change in case it is implemented before the start of free agency on March 18: defensive tackle Adam Butler and guard Jermaine Eluemunor.
Different training camp structures
Training camp would look different under the proposed CBA. There would be a five-day acclimation period for players, while a 2.5-hour limit would be implemented for padded and full-speed practices. Furthermore, time at the facility would be limited “during a given work day” with no more than 16 days in pads allowed. On top of it all, there would be two days off in the first week and one every seven days thereafter.
The 17-game regular season would also have an impact on training camp: the end of training camp would see a three-day weekend, while joint practices would be limited to four if preseason games get reduced to three.
Would you agree to this new CBA proposal if you were the NFLPA?
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