Collective Bargaining Agreement

NFL Accuses NFLPA Of Encouraging RBs To Fake Injuries

Nick Chubb being carted to the locker room against the Steelers on Monday night highlights the importance of running backs securing guaranteed money, but this offseason brought an effective crash of the position’s market, leaving it in an unstable place. The fallout from the franchise tag deadline led to running backs meeting about the state of their position. That has come up in an NFL grievance.

The league filed a grievance accusing the NFLPA of encouraging backs and other players to fake or embellish injuries to increase their leverage, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports. No arbitrator has been assigned to the grievance, one the NFLPA calls “ridiculous and without merit,” per’s Tom Pelissero. This comes after an NFLPA grievance accused owners of colluding to impede efforts for fully guaranteed contracts.

While the NFL’s grievance accuses the NFLPA of violating CBA provisions, Maske adds it does not levy accusations of improper conduct against running backs.

Beginning this past summer and continuing throughout Training Camp, NFL Players Association leadership, including President J.C. Tretter, have become increasingly vocal in advising NFL Players dissatisfied with their current contracts to consider feigning or exaggerating injuries to withhold service as a way to increase their leverage in contract negotiations,” the NFL said in its grievance.

This offseason’s RB market crash included a number of developments. Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon accepting pay cuts sandwiched cap-casualty releases Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook. Austin Ekeler, who remains attached to a contract he has outplayed, did not generate trade interest and returned to the Chargers after receiving a small incentive package. The franchise tag deadline — when Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard did not sign long-term extensions — and the Jonathan Taylor drama headlined one of the most eventful offseasons for a position group in NFL history.

Following the July 17 tag deadline, running backs voiced their disapproval on social media and then met to discuss the fallout in a Zoom meeting. The league alleges Tretter and new NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell participated in the meeting that included the conveying of the injury strategy, Maske adds. During a podcast appearance in July, Tretter advocated for players to gain as much leverage as they could. Although he stopped short of advocating for backs to fake injuries, the NFLPA president advised players to do what was necessary to maximize leverage.

[The NFLPA’s] conduct is a clear violation of the union’s agreement to use ‘best efforts to faithfully carry out the terms and conditions of the [CBA]’ and ‘to see that the terms and conditions of all NFL Player Contracts are carried out in full by players,” the league’s memo reads. “The union’s conduct is also reckless as any player that chooses to follow this advice and improperly withhold services under his player contract will be subject to discipline and financial liability under the CBA, Club rules, and/or the player’s contract.”

While running backs have understandably come up, the practice of holding in has been ongoing since the 2020 CBA included language that made holdouts more difficult to wage. A number of players have staged hold-ins and been rewarded. T.J. Hockenson complained of ear and back discomfort during this year’s Vikings training camp; the tight end returned to action after finalizing a lucrative extension. T.J. Watt staged a hold-in during the Steelers’ 2021 training camp, leading to a record-setting extension. Brian Burns took the unusual route of practicing and then stepping away in a hold-in effort late this summer; the Panthers edge rusher returned to practice soon after.

The Taylor matter remains a key talking point. Jim Irsay fired a CBA-driven salvo at running backs who were discussing the position’s future. That drew the ire of Taylor’s camp, and the relationship has deteriorated in the weeks since. Taylor landed on the Colts’ active/PUP list, despite Irsay indicating in July the All-Pro RB was ready to return from the minimally invasive ankle surgery he underwent in January, and his trade request became public soon after.

The Colts engaged in trade talks with teams and are expected to revisit them, but Taylor is out for the season’s first four games while residing on Indianapolis’ reserve/PUP list. Jalen Ramsey used a similar tactic during the 2019 season, asking out of Jacksonville and using an injury excuse to miss time. Once he was dealt to Los Angeles, the All-Pro cornerback returned to action.

Chubb participated in that Zoom call, as did Barkley. Both players suffered injuries in Week 2. Chubb’s $12.2MM-per-year contract — the most recent eight-figure-per-year deal given to a back, which he and the Browns agreed to in July 2021 — runs through 2024. Barkley joins Jacobs, Ekeler and Pollard in being 2024 UFAs.

Key Dates Remaining On 2023 NFL Calendar

The NFL recently announced important dates for the remainder of 2023. Here are the dates to file away:

  • Deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions: 3pm CT, July 17
  • Roster cutdown from 90 to 53 players: 3pm CT, August 29
  • Post-cutdown waiver claims due: 11am CT, August 30
  • Fall owners’ meetings: October 17-18
  • NFL trade deadline: 3pm CT, October 31
  • Vested veterans, if cut, become subject to waivers: November 1
  • Deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign tenders: 3pm CT, November 14

Two of the six players tagged this year — Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne — has reached an extension agreement. Tony Pollard is the only other player to sign his franchise tender. Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Evan Engram have not put pen to paper yet. Pollard, Barkley, Engram and Jacobs will have until July 17 to sign extensions. Absent any deals by July 17, these players must wait until January 2024 to resume negotiations. Teams are still permitted to trade tagged players after July 17, but only if they have signed their tender.

After revisiting the three-tiered cutdown structure over the past two years, the NFL will opt for a late-August transaction flurry. Rather than having teams trim their rosters from 90 to 85 players and then from 85 to 80 and 80 to 53, the league will reintroduce the 90-to-53 cut.

While rumors of the NFL considering moving the trade deadline back from its usual spot — the Tuesday after Week 8 — it is sticking with its modern setup. The rumored talks were to included dialogue about moving the deadline back one or two weeks, seeing as the league has extended its season by a week since slotting the trade date post-Week 8 back in 2012. Major League Baseball and the NBA have their respective trade deadlines beyond the midseason point, but the NFL will stick with its date just before that juncture.

Any vested veteran released before Nov. 1 will pass straight to free agency, which separates this class of player from those without required service time. However, all cuts will be grouped together — with players of any experience level subject to the waiver wire if cut — from Nov. 1 through season’s end.

If Barkley, Jacobs and Engram do not sign their respective tenders by Nov. 14, they will be ineligible to play in 2023. Only one player this century — Le’Veon Bell (2018) — has taken this route, though two did so in the 1990s — Washington defensive lineman Sean Gilbert (1997) and Kansas City D-lineman Dan Williams (’98).

NFL Brings Back Emergency Third QB Rule

After Brock Purdy‘s injury effectively removed any drama regarding the NFC championship game’s outcome, the NFL will allow teams a notable protection measure against the kind of situation the 49ers ran into in January.

The league will now allow teams to dress an emergency third quarterback, approving a proposal to bring this rule back Monday, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Teams usually dress only two quarterbacks, allowing an extra roster spot for another player — one more likely to be needed — as part of their 48-man gameday contingent. A wrinkle to this arrangement will be reintroduced this coming season.

For a team to be able to use its emergency quarterback, the first two must be physically unable to play. Teams will not be able to stash a third quarterback on their roster and turn to him in a benching scenario involving either of its top QBs, Field Yates of adds (via Twitter).

Additionally, all emergency QBs must be on teams’ active rosters. None can be summoned from practice squads during a game. Teams will, however, be able to designate their emergency passer 90 minutes before kickoff. Should one of the team’s top two QBs be deemed healthy enough to return to a game, the emergency QB must be yanked.

Teams, of course, could have still dressed a third quarterback under the previous format. But clubs generally steered against doing so in order to better protect themselves against injuries at other positions depleting depth charts. Active rosters can include up to 55 players on gamedays, with teams being able to bump two up from the practice squad each week. Third-string quarterbacks are often part of the 55-man contingent but are regularly among the seven who do not dress for games. Some teams only carry two QBs on their active roster. That will need to change if a franchise wants to take advantage of this emergency protection measure.

This became a problem for the 49ers, who saw Purdy suffer a torn UCL during the first quarter of the NFC title game. That injury summoned journeyman Josh Johnson, whom the 49ers signed off the Broncos’ practice squad in the wake of Jimmy Garoppolo‘s December foot fracture. Johnson, who served as Purdy’s backup down the stretch, suffered a third-quarter concussion that brought a compromised Purdy back into the game. The 49ers not dressing a third QB led to them essentially playing out the string, with Purdy repeatedly handing off or throwing short passes in the Eagles’ blowout win.

The 49ers lost four QBs to injury last season. Trey Lance‘s fractured ankle in Week 2 began the team down this path, one that turned out to affect the entire NFL for the 2023 season. The league allowed teams this flexibility from 1991-2010, but the past two CBAs did not include the rule. One team’s historic injury run at the sport’s marquee position will lead to a mid-CBA amendment.

2024 Fifth-Year Option Salaries Revealed

This will be the third offseason for the tiered fifth-year option format. The NFL’s 2020 CBA changed the option structure for first-round picks, fully guaranteeing the options but doing so based on performance and usage rate. The 2011 CBA gave teams flexibility by making the options guaranteed for injury only, allowing franchises to cut players free of charge as long as they passed March physicals. The 2018, ’19 and ’20 draft classes have now gained access to fully guaranteed options.

Players who have been original invitees to two or more Pro Bowls reside on the top tier. Here is how those numbers will look in 2023, courtesy of’s Albert Breer (on Twitter):

  • Quarterback: $32.42MM
  • Running back: $10.09MM
  • Wide receiver: $19.74MM
  • Tight end: $11.35MM
  • Offensive line: $18.24MM
  • Defensive end: $19.73MM
  • Defensive tackle: $18.94MM
  • Linebacker: $20.93MM
  • Cornerback: $18.14MM
  • Safety: $14.46MM
  • Kicker/punter: $5.39MM

If those numbers look familiar, they are equal to this year’s nonexclusive franchise tag figures. The second tier consists of one-time Pro Bowlers; those figures match the 2023 transition tag numbers.

  • Quarterback: $29.5MM
  • Running back: $8.43MM
  • Wide receiver: $17.99MM
  • Tight end: $9.72MM
  • Offensive linemen: $16.66MM
  • Defensive end: $17.45MM
  • Defensive tackle: $16.1MM
  • Linebacker: $17.48MM
  • Cornerback: $15.79MM
  • Safety: $11.87MM
  • Kicker/punter: $4.87MM

Participation impacts the final two tiers. Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position. Tier 3 consists of players who played at least 75% in two of their first three seasons, those who averaged at least a 75% snap share through three seasons or those who crossed the 50% snap barrier in each of their initial three slates.

  • Quarterback: $23.17MM
  • Running back: $5.99MM
  • Wide receiver: $14.12MM
  • Tight end: $7.23MM
  • Offensive line: $14.18MM
  • Defensive end: $13.12MM
  • Defensive tackle: $11.67MM
  • Linebacker: $12.72MM
  • Cornerback: $12.34MM
  • Safety: $8.37MM
  • Kicker/punter: $3.98MM

The fourth and final tier consists of players who failed to reach those participation rates:

  • Quarterback: $20.27MM
  • Running back: $5.46MM
  • Wide receiver: $12.99MM
  • Tight end: $6.57MM
  • Offensive line: $12.57MM
  • Defensive end: $12.14MM
  • Defensive tackle: $10.46MM
  • Linebacker: $11.73MM
  • Cornerback: $11.51MM
  • Safety: $7.68MM
  • Kicker/punter: $3.71MM

Teams have until May 1 to exercise or decline players’ fifth-year options. Option declines will make those players 2024 unrestricted free agents.

Only Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson and Buccaneers tackle Tristan Wirfs will be eligible for the first tier. Despite Justin Herbert being designated the AFC’s Pro Bowl starter last year and winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020, the Chargers star only has received one original Pro Bowl invite. Ditto Joe Burrow, who received his first invite this season. The AFC’s deep Pro Bowl contingent did not include Burrow in 2021, while this year’s Patrick Mahomes-fronted group excluded Herbert.

While this will allow the Bengals and Chargers slight discounts for their centerpieces’ 2024 options, both teams should be expected to begin extension talks this offseason. The Cardinals did so with Kyler Murray last year, locking him down through 2028 and rendering his 2023 fifth-year option moot. The Giants did not discuss an extension with Daniel Jones, and the contract-year QB transformed his value this season.

Despite his 2021 and ’22 seasons being largely defined by injuries, Commanders defensive end Chase Young does as well. Cowboys wideout CeeDee Lamb is also on Tier 2, thanks to his 2022 Pro Bowl nod. Giants tackle Andrew Thomas and Falcons cornerback AJ Terrell have emerged as quality performers at their positions, each being named second-team All-Pros (Terrell in 2021, Thomas this season). Neither have received Pro Bowl invitations, however, dropping them down to Tier 3.

2023 Salary Cap To Rise Past $220MM?

Following the pandemic-induced salary cap reduction in 2021, the NFL’s salary ceiling climbed to $208MM this year. More growth is expected, though issues leave its precise spike to be determined.

When owners and other execs gather next week in Dallas for the latest set of meetings, they could receive an estimate of next year’s cap. Such a figure is usually provided at this point, and’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero note a “normal calculation of projected revenues” would produce a cap figure well north of $220MM. But no cap projection has yet been made, per

In the narrow window between the CBA going out for ratification and the COVID-19 virus becoming 2020’s defining story, cap spikes surpassing those of the 2010s were expected to emerge in the early years of this CBA. Bumps from the latest round of TV deals were set to trigger those. While the pandemic altered this path, the league’s new TV contracts are set to kick in next year. The NFL agreed to its latest round of TV accords before this year’s cap figure was determined, and the 2023 cap was believed to be when the windfall from those contracts would begin to be reflected on team budgets.

The CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN and Amazon TV pacts, which begin next season and run through 2033, were agreed to in March 2021. But the league has not yet finalized a Sunday Ticket provider; that is a factor as well. The media kicker in the 2020 CBA could increase players’ revenue from 48% to 48.8%, which notes is a potential nine-figure bump for the players. The Sunday Ticket component affects the revenue projection, thus holding up cap finality.

Various NFL teams, however, are using $222.5MM and $225MM projections, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry tweets. OverTheCap is using $225MM as its 2023 projection. This would not match the change from 2020-21, when the cap vaulted from $182.5MM to $208MM after empty stadiums and reduced-capacity crowds in 2020 brought an unusual period for the league’s finances. But going up to even $222.5MM would represent a bigger bump than anything the 2011 CBA brought. Under the previous CBA, the biggest single-year cap move happened in 2016, when it rose from $143.3MM to $155.3MM.

Regardless of where it lands, another cap record is coming, with more growth in store for 2024 and beyond. That will do well to help teams retain players and enable more position-record salaries.

NFL, NFLPA Announce Pro Bowl Replacement Format

With the Pro Bowl as we know it going away, the structure of the retooled event came into focus Thursday. The NFL and NFLPA announced an early version of what will be replacing the decades-long all-star game.

Calling it a “replacement event,” the league and the union announced the players selected will be required to participate (barring injury). That marks a change from the 2020 CBA, which indicated participation in a Pro Bowl replacement voluntary. While it is worth speculating whether the term “Pro Bowler” will remain in place, it will be interesting to see if nearly as many alternates will be named compared to the recent past, which saw numerous primary and auxiliary alternate players given Pro Bowl invites.

A series of skills challenges — including dodgeball, quarterback drills, “best catch” and “thread the needle” — will take place during the usual Pro Bowl week. On the Sunday before Super Bowl LVII, a seven-on-seven flag football event will be held. Only skill-position players, as is the case in seven-on-seven sessions, will participate in that game. Other skill-related activities, presumably for linemen and specialists, will be on tap for that revamped Sunday.

Players representing the conference declared the winner — based on various scores from the skills events — will receive $84K, while the losing conference’s all-stars will collect $42K. To receive a share, players must participate in the Sunday event and at least one game-week event. This is unchanged from the shares players would receive for Pro Bowl participation.

The Pro Bowl had been in place since 1938, but as the exhibition declined in popularity, calls for its end came for several years. Starters frequently bowed out, and the game’s effort level was understandably not comparable to regular contests. In 2016, an NFL-record 135 players were named Pro Bowlers, due to the number of alternates needed to be invited to ensure full rosters, while’s Kevin Seifert adds 125 were summoned in 2017. The alternate count led to the “Pro Bowler” label losing luster. The skills challenge week, or however it will be referred this year, almost certainly will not need that many players to fill out rosters, perhaps leading to a more consistent number of all-stars each year.

Key Dates On 2022-23 NFL Calendar

The NFL recently announced important dates for the remainder of 2022 on through the 2023 offseason. Here are some dates to file away during these periods:

Key dates remaining on the 2022 NFL calendar:

  • Franchise tag extension deadline: July 15, 2022
  • Deadline for players given UFA tenders to sign with other teams: July 22
  • Roster cutdown from 90 to 85 players: August 16
  • Roster cutdown to 80 players: August 23
  • Roster cutdown to 53 players: 3pm CT, August 30
  • Post-cutdown waiver claims due: 11am CT, August 31
  • NFL trade deadline: 3pm CT, November 1
  • Vested veterans (if cut) become subject to waivers: November 2
  • Deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign tenders: November 15

Key dates for the 2023 offseason:

  • Franchise and transition tag period: February 21-March 7, 2023
  • Legal tampering period: March 13-15
  • Start of 2023 league year and free agency: 3pm CT, March 15
  • Offseason workouts: April 3 (for teams with new head coaches); April 17 (for all other teams)
  • Restricted free agency signing period ends: April 21
  • Last day to match RFA offer sheets: April 26
  • 2023 NFL draft: April 27-29
  • Deadline to exercise fifth-year options: May 1

The NFL is again using the three-tiered cutdown structure, using the 90-to-85-to-80-to-53 setup for a second straight year. The in-season deadline pertaining to tagged players has not been a storyline since Le’Veon Bell‘s 2018 holdout, which led to the first skipped season by a tagged performer in 20 years. Jessie Bates (Bengals), Orlando Brown Jr. (Chiefs), Mike Gesicki (Dolphins) and Dalton Schultz (Cowboys) remain attached to the tag. Anyone who has not signed their tender would be prohibited from playing this season if unsigned by the mid-November date. Gesicki and Schultz have signed their tenders.

Justin Houston is the only player still attached to a UFA tender, which the Ravens assigned last month. He has until July 22 to sign with another team. Otherwise, the Ravens will have exclusive negotiating rights until November 15, when Houston must sign or be prevented from playing in 2022.

Next year’s draft will take place in Kansas City, Missouri. On the whole, the 2023 dates are in line with the NFL’s usual offseason calendar.

After its second-ever decline, in 2021, the salary cap is expected to balloon from its $208.2MM 2022 perch. Free agents can begin official negotiations with other teams beginning at 11am CT on March 13. No deals can become official until the start of the 2023 league year two days later.

Wide receivers represent some of next year’s franchise tag candidates. D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel and Terry McLaurin are entering contract years. Although the Seahawks, 49ers and Commanders, respectively, want to extend the pass catchers, the tag represents a last-ditch option. Next year will represent the third offseason for the usage- and performance-based fifth-year option system, which features fully guaranteed options.

Latest On WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Recent Super Bowl LVI champion Odell Beckham Jr. is facing free agency this offseason. Beckham has expressed his desire to remain in Los Angeles and the Rams let it be known that the feeling was mutual

Unfortunately, Beckham suffered a torn ACL in the Rams’ Super Bowl victory. The knee injured was the same one Beckham injured in the 2020 season. The re-injury combined with the late timing of the injury should lead to Beckham missing time in the 2022 NFL season.

Normally, a player with an expiring contract like Beckham’s would be out of luck, as they wouldn’t be eligible for injury protection. But, due to pending arbitration between the league and the union, Beckham may end up qualifying for the protection.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement provides injury protection for players with non-guaranteed salaries in the season after they suffer an injury that prevents them from playing. When Beckham was injured, although he was technically headed to free agency, he had future years on his contract.

The purpose of the future years was to spread out Beckham’s cap hit. He signed a fully guaranteed one-year deal for $1.25MM. The contract would be paid out as a base salary in 2021 of $750,000 with a $500,000 signing bonus. The signing bonus was structured to pay out $100,000 annually over the next five years. The first $100,000 would count against the Rams’ 2021 cap along with the base salary. The remaining $400,000 would count against the Rams’ 2022 cap space.

The arbitration mentioned above is over whether or not those voided years in Beckham’s contract could make him eligible for the CBA’s injury protection. The injury protection would entitle Beckham to a salary up to $2MM. In the voided contract, Beckham’s base salary for 2022 is $1.12MM, meaning that, if the arbitration rules in favor of Beckham, Beckham will receive the entirety of that amount.

The good news is that, even if the arbitration rules against him, Beckham’s 2021 contract had $3MM worth of team-based incentives built in, and, en route to winning the Super Bowl, Beckham cashed in on every single incentive.

Still, this all is hypothetical. In theory, knowing the Rams would like to keep Beckham in LA, and acknowledging the crucial role he played in adding the Lombardi to their trophy room, the Rams will give Beckham a deal indicative of his contributions, despite not being legally obligated to do so.

NFL To Allow HC Interviews On Dec. 28

NFL owners have voted to allow head coaching interviews in the final two weeks of the regular season (Twitter link via’s Tom Pelissero). This will be conducted as a one-year trial, beginning on Tuesday, December 28.

[RELATED: Jaguars’ Khan On Urban Meyer]

The league’s previous rule set prevented employed NFL coaches from interviewing in the final weeks of the season. The new rule may allow teams to accelerate the process, though the current employer still reserves the right to refuse any request.

In the near-term, this resolution could impact the Jaguars who are surely having second thoughts about head coach Urban Meyer. For what it’s worth, owner Shad Khan says he won’t make any rash decisions.

I want to do the right thing for the team. I want to do the right thing for the city,” Khan said this week. “That, to me, is way more important than just acting helter-skelter on emotion. I think we have a history of really looking at the facts and then really doing the right thing.”

The Bears (Matt Nagy), Giants (Joe Judge), and Vikings (Mike Zimmer) could also take advantage of this new wrinkle.

NFL’s 2022 Salary Cap To Reach $208.2MM

December 14th, 6:58pm: The NFL has officially informed clubs that the 2022 cap will indeed be projected at $208.2MM, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

December 5th, 3:02pm: Back in May, the NFL and NFL Players Association met in May and agreed to a salary cap for the 2022 season of $208.2MM. There was some speculation that the numbers may change based on a few different factors, and while the official, final number has not been announced, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero report that it’s expected to be revealed at the NFL’s annual labor seminar next week that the cap will indeed reach the all-time high mark of $208.2MM.

The league’s previous high was in 2020 at $198.2MM. The cap had shown consistent growth each year with an average annual increase from 2013-2020 of $10.74MM per year. This trend was disrupted by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic which caused a loss of gate revenue and other income for the league. Because of those setbacks, the salary cap was reduced to $182.5MM for the 2021 season. The nearly $16MM cap reduction is not a complete reflection of the revenue lost by the NFL last year, since the NFL and NFLPA came to an agreement to spread out the anticipated losses over several years, as opposed to incurring it all at once.

The $10MM increase from the league’s previous high is about what the league expected the 2021 salary cap to rise to before the pandemic. This return to the expected increase doesn’t necessarily reflect a return to normalcy. It’s more of a sign of what may be to come as the losses from last year are already being offset by a potential increase in future revenue. The NFL is seeing, and will continue to see, an increase in revenue from the addition of a 17th game in the regular season, expanded playoffs, an influx of new gambling money, new TV deals, and many other new revenue streams.

It is even expected that the 2023 season will see another significant increase to the salary cap. The NFLPA is still recovering, paying back the league for what was essentially a low-interest loan that allowed players to continue making full salaries and bonuses last year, in addition to paying back players for benefits that were canceled in 2020, like performance-based pay, Pro Bowl pay, and tuition pay. But an increase is still to be expected when media “kickers” from the 2020 collective bargaining agreements are put into effect as money comes in from new TV deals. The “kickers” should increase the players’ share of revenue from 48% to as high as 48.8%.

The biggest takeaway from all of this should be that the moves and decisions made by both the league and the union show confidence that the league is done being affected financially by the global pandemic and that both sides are doing everything they can to protect the players from feeling that financial burden.