NFLPA members narrowly ratify a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) just before the start of the NFL league year.

The new league year is scheduled to begin on March 18 and the NFL was hoping to get a new CBA before the season officially begins. The league got what they wanted when players voted on and the NFLPA announced this morning that the new agreement was ratified by a slim majority decision of 1,019-959.

New changes that will affect the length of the season include a 17th regular-season game, an additional bye week, two additional playoff games and one less exhibition game.

Players will receive a gradual increase in the league’s minimum wage as well as increases attached to league revenue. Revenue percentage for players could increase to as high as 48.8%, depending on how much the league’s total revenue increases from television broadcast deals.

Probably the best news for NFL fans is that the ratification of the new CBA is projected to increase the salary cap, beginning as early as this offseason. Teams could have significantly more cap room to sign free agents.

Here’s a more comprehensive breakdown of the new CBA changes.

  • Beginning in 2021, owners will have the option of expanding the regular season from 16 to 17 games. Each team will receive an extra bye week in place of a fourth preseason game.
  • The NFL will add two more playoff teams (one per conference) to the field beginning this season. This will bring the number to seven playoff teams per conference, with a first-round bye awarded to only the top seed in each conference.
  • Total revenue for NFL players, currently at 47 percent, will increase to 48 percent in 2021 and could potentially increase to 48.8 percent depending on the revenue generated by a 17th game and the NFL’s new television rights deals. For instance, a 60% increase in television rights would mean the players’ cut would increase to 48.5% of revenue. A 120% increase in television rights would boost that cut up to 48.8 % revenue.
  • Beginning immediately, the salary for players on minimum-salaried deals, (60% of league players) will increase from $585,000 in 2020 to $675,000 next season. A minimum-salaried player with two credited seasons will see an increase in his salary from $660,000 to $750,000. Over the course of the new CBA, minimum salaries will grow to $1.48 million by 2030.
  • NFL rosters will increase from 53 to 55 players and the active game-day roster would expand from 46 to 48 players.
  • Padded practices (training camp only) will be cut from 28 to 16.

Players will still be tested for substance abuse and fines will still be imposed for repeat offenders.
However, players will no longer be suspended for positive tests for any drug the league targets for substance abuse. That does not include performance-enhancing drugs, which are still subject to suspension.

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