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Top 6 Changes of New CBA agreement

Top 6 Changes of New CBA agreement

03/16/2020
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Story Originally Published by USA Today (3/15/20)

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The NFL and NFL Players Association settled a new collective bargaining agreement this weekend, warding off a potential work stoppage for at least another decade.

The deal, which NFL players approved by a margin of 1,019 to 959, will run through the 2030 season and includes several notable changes — to the NFL schedule, player pensions and many other fronts.

As the two sides work to iron out the final details, here are the most significant differences in the new CBA from the previous one and how they will impact the league and its players beginning as early as this fall.

A 17-game regular season

This is the big one, obviously. The new CBA paves the way for the NFL to add one more week to the regular-season schedule — a move that has long been sought by owners, and largely criticized by players.

The addition of a 17th game will give NFL owners one more week of game day revenue in the form of ticket, parking and concession sales — and, perhaps more importantly, also hike up the cost of future television broadcasting deals, which are set to be renegotiated this year. Players have largely opposed the expansion because it represents another week in which they will put their bodies at risk.

One sticking point in the negotiations was how players would be paid for this additional game. An initial proposal would've capped the amount at $250,000 per player, but that was since changed to ensure that players will receive the full prorated value of their contracts, even if it exceeds that amount.

A shortened preseason

Partly because of the 17-game regular season, the new CBA also calls for a shortened preseason schedule. Each team will play three preseason games, instead of four, beginning in 2021, with the fourth week turning into a bye.

The new CBA also limits the number of joint practices that each team can have in the preseason to four, among caps on other elements of training camp — from the length of padded and full-speed practices (no more than 2.5 hours) to the number of days in pads (no more than 16).

The revenue split

Under the new CBA, players are guaranteed to receive 48% of the league's overall revenue beginning in 2021, with the ability to increase that share to 48.8% "through a media kicker which applies in any season the league plays 17 games," according to an NFLPA fact sheet that was released before the deal was finalized.

The previous CBA, which was approved in 2011, guaranteed players 47% of revenue.

While there are slight variations in how revenue is calculated and split in other major pro sports leagues, NBA players are guaranteed to receive between 49% and 51% of revenue under their current CBA. NHL players receive at least 50%. Baseball's revenue-sharing system isn't quite as straightforward as others, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told The New York Times in 2018 that players had received "approximately 50 percent of revenue" in recent years.

Drug policy and disciplinary changes

The new CBA significantly relaxes the rules on drug testing with regards to marijuana by narrowing the window for testing (from four months to two weeks at the start of training camp) and reducing the number of players who are subjected to testing. 

The deal also increases the level of THC that qualifies as a positive test, from 35 nanograms of carboxy THC per milliliter of urine to 150, and reduces penalties — including the elimination of suspensions — for players who test positive.

On a broader level, with regards to player discipline, the new CBA will stipulate that "a neutral decision-maker" will now rule on most commissioner discipline cases, taking some of the disciplinary power out of the hands of Roger Goodell, according to the NFLPA fact sheet.

Roster sizes increased

The new deal expands the size of NFL rosters from 53 players to 55, while allowing two additional players to be active on game days.

It also calls for larger practice squads and better compensation for practice-squad players. Under this deal, practice squads could soon increase to as many as 14 players per team, each making $10,500 per week — an increase of $2,500.

A new playoff format

This was not technically a bargaining issue, but it has become wrapped up in the deal: Starting as early as next season, the playoff field will expand from six teams per conference to seven, with only the top seed in each conference earning a bye week.

Under this format, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams each would have made the playoffs last season and faced the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers in the opening round, respectively.

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