The next couple of days are going to be exciting for New England Patriots offensive lineman Ted Karras. Not only is he scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency coming off the best season of his four-year career, he also will keep a close eye on the results of the ongoing player vote regarding the proposed collective bargaining agreement: the NFLPA’s 2,000+ members have until Saturday to decide on whether or not to ratify the new labor deal.
Karras is more invested in this process than other players. After all, he is one of the New England Patriots’ alternate player representatives alongside Devin McCourty and Joe Cardona. The three veteran players are supporting the team’s player rep, Matthew Slater, and also answering any questions their teammates might have about the union and the ongoing CBA negotiations with the league’s ownership.
Karras himself remains an active voice in the process despite his uncertain future with the Patriots, and, as he recently told ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, is a supporter of the proposed deal that is currently in the players’ collective hands: “I’m a ‘yes’ vote. I like the deal. I definitely don’t want a work stoppage. I think it’s a good 10-year spot for the league and the guys coming in, and the core of our union — the third-to-fifth-year guys.”
“The overall revenue was a big concern for a lot of guys. Obviously, that 17th game as well,” he added. “The way I framed it for myself, I got into this to play football. We’re paid to play football, and even though the revenue maybe wasn’t as high as some guys wanted, the cap is going up, and the percentage that teams must hit of the cap is going up. So, for a guy like me, whose earning potential is significantly lower — I’m never going to be the $100 million earnings guy — I have a short window of opportunity to make money playing football.”
Karras knows what he is talking about. A sixth-round draft pick by the Patriots back in 2016, he spent his first three years with the team as a backup — one that was released during 2017’s roster cutdowns only to re-join the team via its practice squad a short time later — before being elevated to a starting role in 2019 after center David Andrews was hospitalized and later diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs.
But despite being one of the more prominent depth players in the NFL, his career earnings pale in comparison to what other players are making in pro football: as calculated by Over The Cap, Karras’ career earnings from the contracts he signed in New England are roughly $2.4 million. To put this number into context, 14 players currently under contract with the Patriots have a higher salary scheduled for the 2020 season than that.
“If I can increase my earning potential by a quarter-million dollars a year, I think that’s important and I would want to take advantage of that,” continued Karras — well aware of the significance of the current vote. “I’m encouraging guys to vote — either way, I think it’s important. It’s a democratic process. With as many guys voting, it will get the full voice we need. Either way, I’m going to support the will of the players.”
“To me, it isn’t quite as pivotal as ‘87, but it’s still kind of a turning point moving forward in modern day American football and I like to be involved in it,” he continued. “I’m honored to have been elected as an alternate. We have a great union. And again, I’d just say, either way I’m going to stick with the union.”