INDIANAPOLIS — Negotiations and discussions that spanned Tuesday night into early Wednesday delivered the NFL and its players to the doorstep of a decade of labor peace.
The final leg of that journey is dependent on the full membership of the NFL Players Association, which soon will vote on a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a 17-game regular season being implemented in either 2021 or 2022.
The proposed deal, which already has been approved by NFL owners, was given the green light by the 32 team player representatives early Wednesday. That came after almost four hours of negotiating between owners and player reps in Indianapolis and another round of long talks among the player reps that finally produced a 17-14 vote — with one abstention — to send the deal to a vote by full membership.
A majority vote by players is needed to ratify the deal to be put in place for the 2020 season. There is no word yet on when that vote might occur.
Under the new CBA, players would see an increase from their cut of total revenue from the current 47 percent to 48 percent. If owners opt for a 17-game schedule, the players’ cut of revenue would grow to 48.5 percent. Over the 10-year life of the new deal, that is projected to mean a $5 billion increase in the players’ portion of revenue.
Among the other notable highlights of the new deal is an expanded playoff format that would add two additional teams — one in each conference — to create a 14-team postseason. Only the top seed in each conference would get a first-round bye, and wild-card weekend would increase to six games with the possibility of Monday night playoff games.
Also, training camp practices would decrease from 28 to 16, rosters would increase from 53 to 55, with game-day rosters expanding from 46 to 48 players, with minimum salaries for rookies increasing by $100,000.
Owners voted last week to approve the new CBA after 10 months of negotiations with the NFLPA, but the union’s executive council voted to reject a recommendation to send the new deal to a vote among the full membership pending more talks.
The sides reconvened Tuesday in Indianapolis hoping to close ground on the sticking points, among them the stipulation to cap 17th game paychecks at $250,000. That cap restriction has been removed, according to reports, and players will get the full worth of a single-game check reflecting their current contract.