Hot off the presses, a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is on its way from an NFL team owners’ meeting to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), so looking like the CBA rests with the players now.

The franchise owners got together yesterday in the Big Apple to go over a laundry list of proposed changes, ultimately coming to an agreement on the majority of the terms.  Per league rules, the components of the new CBA needed to be approved by at least two-thirds of the owners and, while some of the entries may have been a little more controversial than others, all negotiated terms were ultimately approved.

Now Owner Approved CBA Rests With Players

The NFL, relieved to have made progress without too much difficulty, said in a statement, “Following more than ten months of intensive and thorough negotiations the NFL Players and clubs have jointly developed a comprehensive set of new and revised terms that will transform the future of the game, provide for players — past, present, and future — both on and off the field, and ensure that the NFL’s second century is even better and more exciting for the fans.”

While the full list of changes is much longer, the new CBA includes several key sections that the NFLPA had wanted.  Among these are:

The elimination of any game suspensions strictly for positive marijuana tests

A reduction in the number of players subjected to testing for marijuana

Retroactive increase to $550 per month for all pre-2012 vested players

“Gambling definitions” that ensure players receive a portion of gambling revenue brought in by the league

Alterations to training camp, including the “introduction to a 5-day acclimation period,” a limit of 16 days in pads and a limit of four joint practices in a three-preseason games scenario

Injury Protection of 100% of salary up to $2.0M and Extended Injury Protection of 100% of salary up to $1.0M

An increase in the active squad by one offensive lineman

There’s also the possibility that the season could be expanded to 17 games, instead of the current 16.  This could happen within four years, but not before the 2021-22 season.  Were it to occur, preseason would be cut to three games, and players could see an incremental increase of their league revenue share to 48.5%.

The league’s statement continued, “The membership voted today to accept the negotiated terms on the principal elements of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Players Association would also need to vote to approve the same terms for there to be a new agreement. Since the clubs and players need to have a system in place and know the rules that they will operate under by next week, the membership also approved moving forward under the final year of the 2011 CBA if the players decide not to approve the negotiated terms. Out of respect for the process and our partners at the NFLPA, we will have no further comment at this time.”

NFLPA CBA Discussions

The CBA ball rests in the NFLPA’s and players hands now, and it will discuss the agreement today.  Initially, player reps and the organization’s executive council were going to meet in Washington, DC, but, most likely due to scheduling issues, have opted to have a conference call to go over the changes, instead.  Provided two-thirds of the participants on the call agree, some of the new rules will become effective as of the 2020-21 season, and others with the launch of the upcoming season on March 18.

Although many of the rules were submitted by the NFLPA, not all players are fans.  One of the most controversial topics is that of the season expansion, and several players have already spoken out after it was revealed that league owners had approved the rules.  Russell Okung of the LA Chargers voiced his concern on Twitter, asserting that the league views players as “products,” while other leagues, such as the NBA, views them as “partners.”

Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers is onboard that train of thought.  He already made it clear when he told Pro Football Talk last month, “The league kind of pretends that they’re interested in it, pretends that they care about it, makes all these rules, fines all these players, but then still proposes players to play an extra game.  And not just 17. They’re really just saying 17 so that they can get to 18. And so that’s two more opportunities for players to risk their bodies, put their bodies on the line. And that’s what so ridiculous about it, and nobody calls them out. Nobody calls out the hypocrisy. I’m hoping that one day people will be brave enough to call out the hypocrisy of saying, ‘Hey, we really care about player safety, but hey we also want you to play an extra game, put your body on the line, and risk your career.”

Everything with the CBA now rests with the NFLPA and players.  If they don’t approve the changes, the upcoming football season could prove to be very interesting.