A meeting between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) representatives and owners has begun in Indianapolis, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post. The owners recently approved a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which would add a seventh team to the playoffs in each conference and a seventeenth game to the regular season in exchange for a 1.5 percent increase in the player’s share of revenues. It remains uncertain whether the team reps will hold a vote on the proposal tonight, per Mike Jones of USA Today.
Normally negotiations only take place between ownership and the NFLPA’s executive committee. However, the executive committee was unable to come to a consensus on the owner’s proposal, reportedly voting 6-5 against recommending the proposal to team reps. Since the executive committee was so split on the owner’s proposal, team reps decided to hold a meeting of their own with ownership before making any voting decisions.
While public perception seemed to view the ownership proposal as an unfair deal for players, it appears owners made many strategic concessions directly aimed to appeal to the “middle-class” of players who are unlikely to receive a large free-agent contract and instead will make most of their earnings through rookie deals and minimum contracts. The proposal includes expanding rosters from 53 to 55 players, raising minimum salaries, and increasing the performance bonus pool, all of which would help players on the lower end of the pay scale.
With that said, expanding the regular season to seventeen games comes with obvious risks for players (and would severely limit their leverage in future negotiations). Furthermore, the proposed CBA limits game checks in the new game to $250,000, which would mean players with annual salaries greater than $4MM would not receive their normal pay.
49ers team representative (and cornerback) Richard Sherman has been very outspoken in opposition to an expanded schedule and is expected to be one of many team representatives to pushback against any schedule expansion.