Expanded 17-Game Schedule Holding Up New NFL CBA

Expanded game schedule is main sticking point in negotiations between NFL and the NFLPA

17-Game Schedule Is Divisive Issue

According to reports, NFL player leadership is heavily split regarding the prospect of a 17-game schedule. If not for this sticking point, a new collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, may very well have been agreed.

On Friday, player representatives held a conference call to vote on the deal, which would need a two-thirds majority to pass. Although specifics are hard to come by, it’s been reported that the vote would have fallen short by a significant margin.

The NFL Players Association then decided to postpone the vote, allowing the reps to further consider the deal.

Players Want To Go Back To Negotiations

While some representatives are ready to accept the deal as it currently is, other players would only accept a 17-game schedule with changes to the agreement, and others are vehemently opposed to adding another game to the NFL season.

Currently, the players are hoping to get back to the negotiating table with ownership. Meanwhile, the owners have no intention of renegotiating the offer.

NFL officials and the players will meet Tuesday once again, meaning players could be set to vote as early as Wednesday. However, it’s currently unclear whether that vote will be for a revised deal or the deal proposed by owners in its current state.

What Players are Seeking

Before going to a vote, the NFLPA voted 6-5 against recommending the proposed CBA. In its current form, the new deal would increase the players’ revenue share to 48% in 2021, and increase revenue share to 48.5% at the advent of a 17-game schedule.

Along with the increased revenue share, the proposed CBA would increase minimum salaries by nearly $100,000, extend pension eligibility, further limit the number of training camp practices in pads, and increase pay for offseason activities.

For now, that doesn’t appear to be enough for the players.

Franchise Tags Are Another Point Of Contention

Players would like further increased revenue share, more improvements to working conditions, and an enhanced pension structure. Additionally, the use of franchise tags is a point of contention for the players.

Currently, teams have the ability to tag players with a franchise tag or transition tag. The franchise tag allows an organization to keep rights to a player for one year while paying that player a high salary but disallowing them from landing a long-term deal with another team.

A transition tag allows other teams to offer the tagged player a new deal, but the player’s current team then has the option to match the offer and keep the player.

A new CBA would only allow teams to tag one player a year, meaning players gain more freedom as they approach free agency.

Should Players Accept New CBA?

With the current CBA set to end in March of 2021, both the players and owners would like to agree on a deal this offseason to avoid a situation in which negotiations take place under the pressure of an expiring deal.

So, should the players bite the bullet and accept the proposed terms?

Because of the stress another game would put on their bodies, players should have the leverage they need to get some of their demands before agreeing to a 17-game season. 

Obtainable Goals

Better medical coverage, improved working conditions, and a higher revenue share feel like obtainable goals for the players with the bargaining chip of an additional regular-season game.

The problem facing the NFL is that ownership feels they’ve proposed a fair deal with the current revenue share increase serving as a compromise. So, the owners aren’t eager to return to the negotiating table.

Because a section of player leadership is unwilling to add another game to the season, the owners need to win over the portion of player reps who would accept a 17-game schedule if the deal is tweaked.

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