NFL players narrowly approved a new collective bargaining agreement, a move that will bring labor peace to the league for the next 11 seasons, and that will potentially lead to a 17th regular season game and an expanded postseason.
According to NFL.com, the playoff field will expand from 12 teams to 14 starting this year, and there is an option to increase the regular season to 17 games beginning in 2021. The new CBA also increases minimum salaries, performance-based pay and player revenue, among other things.
"NFL players have voted to approve ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement by a vote tally of 1,019 to 959," the NFLPA said in a statement. "This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution. An independent auditor received submitted ballots through a secure electronic platform, then verified, tallied and certified the results.
"We understand and know that players have been split on this deal, including members of our EC. Going forward, it is our duty to lead, however we may feel as individuals, to bring our men together and to continue to represent the interests of our entire membership."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, "We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football. We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement."
Other changes under the new CBA include the addition of two active roster spots, bringing the total from 53 to 55 players; a decrease in padded practices at training camp, down from 28 to 16; increased benefits for retired players and a boost to pensions; and changes to the league's drug policy.
"Our members have spoken and the CBA has been ratified," Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter said in a statement. "We pick up a greater share of revenues, make significant gains to minimum salaries and increase our post-career benefits. For players past, this deal reaches back in an unprecedented way to increase pensions, benefits and make resources available to them.
"We understand that not all deals are perfect, and we don't take the gains we wanted, but couldn't get, lightly. We now must unite and move forward as a union. The interest and passion on the issues that our members have voiced in the past several weeks needs to continue. Our job is never done and we all must work together as one team to build for a better future."