NFL approves CBA: What it means for the league coming into 2020

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

The NFL players have voted in favour of the CBA proposed by the NFL owners. It means a 17th regular-season game, and an expanded playoff picture and secures another 10 seasons of NFL action without another lockout. The deal will be in place through the 2030 season.

It was a close-fought thing in the end, with the NFLPA announcing the results on Sunday. With 1,019 players voting for the agreement and 959 voting against. No other breakdown was available at the time of writing.

CBA adds 17th regular-season game

In a move that has been mooted for a few years, the adding of a 17th game to the regular-season slate is the biggest addition to this CBA. It likely ties in with the NFL’s desire to expand its roster of international series games.

The plan seems to be that each team will still play eight home games, and eight away games, plus one game on neutral territory. While this is still in the early stages, this is where the NFL would like to go with it.

The players had been quite vocal in not wanting the regular season expanded as it’s another game where they put their bodies on the line. However, in the end, it appears they have chosen to compromise to gain in other areas. Players will also receive another paycheck that will be the full prorated value of their contracts.

Money, Money, Money

The owners got what they wanted in the form of a 17th game of revenue, and the players will receive an extra 1% of revenue. Under the current CBA, players receive a 47% share of revenue. Under the new deal that rises to 48% and increases to 48.8% in any season where the league players a 17th regular-season game.

It still leaves the NFL players with a smaller slice of the pie than those in the MLB, NBA, and NHL, but the pie is much, much bigger.

Shorter preseason

Each team will now play just three preseason games instead of four, have less days training in pads (16) and shorter full-speed practises.

The fourth preseason game won’t be missed by players, owners, or fans. With starters rarely playing any snaps, this game is one of the hardest for teams to sell tickets for and has long been assumed to be scrappable to help extend the regular-season.

Roster Sizes

An increase from 53 players to 55 players on NFL rosters will also increase the flexibility and opportunities for more players. Likewise, there is a two-man increase on active gameday rosters.

Drugs and discipline

In a move that has already happened in some sports, the NFL will relax its rules on testing with regard to marijuana. It will reduce the number of players that it tests, and decrease the window of testing from four months prior to camp starting, to just two weeks.

It will also increase the threshold for a failed test from 35 nanograms of THC per millilitre to 150 nanograms. There will also be an elimination of suspensions for players who test positive. This move may pave the way for a return of Josh Gordon.

New CBA may pave the return of players like Josh Gordon ©Bryan Bennett/Getty Images
New CBA may pave the return of players like Josh Gordon ©Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

Expanded playoff format

And finally, one of the most interesting changes. Under the new CBA, there will be an extra playoff team in each conference, and only one team will receive a first-round bye.

With only the top seed in each conference receiving a bye it has the potential to shake up the seedings early in the playoffs, and also gives the top-seed a bigger advantage. Under this system, the Pittsburgh Steelers would’ve made the playoffs last season and travelled to Kansas City in the first round of playoffs.

Over in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams would’ve travelled to the Green Bay Packers.

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