The NFL took another step towards 10 more years of labor peace last week when the league’s player representatives sent out a proposed collective bargaining agreement to the entire membership for a vote. If a single majority can be reached in favor of the 456-page document, the CBA will be ratified. However, this outcome is not guaranteed after numerous big-name players have already voiced their opposition to the proposed deal.
It seems that they are not alone.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, a “number of NFL owners are hoping the current CBA proposal doesn’t pass” because they hope that they might be able to negotiate a better deal next year. This comes just a few weeks after a report that the proposal sent to the NFLPA and subsequently forwarded to the entire player corps in a slightly revised form, was not unanimously passed by the league’s 32 owners.
One notable point some owners hope to revisit during a potential renegotiation next year is the possibility of an 18-game season. The current CBA proposal includes a stipulation that would allow the league’s ownership to increase the number of regular season games from 16 to 17, as discussed in Article 32, Section A:
The League and/or Clubs shall have the discretion to increase the number of regular season games per Club from sixteen (16) to seventeen (17) (but not more), provided that the combined total of preseason and regular season games played per Club shall not exceed twenty (20) games. The League and/or Clubs shall not increase the number of regular season games per Club to eighteen (18) or more games.
The last part of this excerpt is apparently a problem for some owners, who seem to believe that 17 regular season games is not the maximum that can be achieved through talks with the players. Given that the increase from 16 to 17 games already is already one of the biggest issues the NFLPA has with the CBA proposal, however, one can expect that the option to go to 18 games will be met with staunch opposition.
The vote to adapt the CBA in its present form will run through Thursday, March 12, with the ball being entirely in the players’ court now.
The result will be significant for the New England Patriots, given that the league currently operates under the “Final League Year” rules — including the so-called “30 percent rule” that limits teams’ abilities to generate short-team salary cap relief by back-loading contracts. Bill Belichick and company will therefore keep a close eye on the potential result, and speed up negotiations with their free agency class whenever it is announced.
For more information on the proposed CBA, please make sure to check out our previous coverage on the topic:
If you want to read through the entire 456-page long proposed collective bargaining agreement, please click here.