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3 crazy ideas I would like to see in the next NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement

All three of these ideas maybe unattainable in the NFL’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement, but they sure would be nice

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

With the NFLPA and owners looking to establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement either this off-season or in 2021, there are several things both sides really want included. Whether or not these issues will be enough to cause a work stoppage remains to be seen. The last thing either side wants to do is abandon their fan base who they rely on to ultimately support the league by not having their product on the field.

With that in mind, what would the fans like to see in the new CBA? Is there something we think would be good for the game that either side may not necessarily think is important?

Unfortunately, fans do not get a seat at the table. The only way we can really make a difference is in our viewership and hard-earned money we put towards our favorite NFL teams. But what if we did get a say? Here are three ideas I have for the next CBA which I would love to see included.

3 players who don’t count towards the salary cap

I think this idea would be a unique way to remove the franchise tag from the equation for the NFL. Having three plays not affecting the salary cap would benefit the players because elite superstars could earn an even higher contract. This idea could also benefit owners in retaining their players. Ultimately, I think the advantage would go to the players on this one. But this is not my concern.

Here’s how I would like to see a play out: The top three salaries in a given year of players who were drafted by the team do not count towards the salary cap. By drafting players who become superstars which teams wish to retain, they can break the bank as much as they want for those players. Also, teams could structure contracts to where a player could move in and out of being one of the top three salaries. For example, when a player signs a new deal and most of their first year is a signing bonus, they are relatively low cap hit as that money gets spread out over the years of the contract. If a team works the salary cap correctly, they could have four or five players who they are given contracts that could rotate in and out of these top spots based on how cap friendly each year would be.

To use the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers as an example, the top three salary cap numbers for the year are Ben Roethlisberger, Stephon Tuitt, and David DeCastro. Ben’s cap number is $33.5 million with Tuitt cashing in at just under $15 million and DeCastro just over $13.5 million. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is on the Steelers, he would be one of the top three salaries. But what about Cameron Heyward who is going into the last year of his contract? If the Steelers were to sign Heyward to an extension, especially if it were not the final year of the CBA, they could give him a deal with a large signing bonus and have a lower cap hit for 2020. As his cap number goes up, he would move up into the top three.

Additionally, the Steelers would not have to worry about breaking the bank for T.J. Watt at the end of his rookie deal. He would certainly be a player who could go into the top three salaries. As for others, the Steelers could just work some “cap magic” with those players. But a player like Joe Haden who is the fifth-highest cap number on the Steelers would not be eligible to be one of the uncapped salaries since he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.

With this whole idea, it would allow teams to retain players they drafted who have become elite players and would command a large salary on the open market. If a team struggles to draft a franchise quarterback, they would have to use their salary cap room to sign one from somewhere else. But for teams who are skilled (or lucky) enough to draft them, when they go into their second contract it would not penalize them to where they could no longer sign other quality players.

One last benefit of implementing such an idea would make it possible for a player would always be able to sign a larger contract with the team who drafted them rather than on the open market. Another team may not have the cap space to sign a big named player, but the team who drafted them would have no restrictions other than what they are willing to pay.

Adding a second bye week which must fall before a team’s Thursday night game

I proposed this idea when I had my own version of a 17-game schedule which I published in the fall of 2018 before the NFL even toyed with the notion of adding only one more game to the schedule. Adding a 17th or 18th game isn’t the issue right now, because even if the league stays with 16 games, having a bye before Thursday night games would be of great benefit to the players.

Many players are not recovered enough from a Sunday game to begin practicing on Wednesday of a normal week. When a team only has two days to practice before their Thursday night game, their bodies are not ready and the game plan is not always fully developed. By adding another bye week which would fall before each team Thursday night game, bodies could heal and the same amount of practice time in between games is attainable.

Would there be any benefit for the owners to have another by week? Even if the games are still the same number, adding another week to the season adds revenue. Yes, there may be one or two less games each Sunday. But if there is a whole other week in which advertising space can be sold, the money is there for the taking.

As a fan, I sometimes don’t know what to do when the Steelers are on their bye week (unless I strategically plan a vacation). But if one of those byes happened to come where I knew the Steelers would be playing just a couple days after they normally would, it would make the situation not nearly as difficult to get through in my opinion.

Add a short term IR designation

I feel the league did something wise when they allowed teams to have one player return from the Reserve/Injured List after eight games. I feel the league was even wiser by adding a second player and not making teams designate those players when they first went on Injured Reserve. But what about a player who is going to miss a few weeks but may not be worth using the designated to return option?

I suggest allowing each team have a short-term Reserve/Injured List player. Because it is so short term, the player would have to be designated when the team put them on the list. Instead of missing eight games, the player would only have to miss four and could begin practicing after three. This would have been a great designation for Benny Snell Jr. when he had his knee scoped this past season. By instituting this rule, it could allow the team to have the extra player on the roster in the injured player’s absence but not have the player miss half the season.

The way I would do this would be to allow one player at a time to be out with this particular status. Also, if the player took another week or two to come back, they could stay on the short term Reserve/Injured List longer and return whenever they are ready but another player could not be used on the list as long as the original player was still out.

So these are my three ideas of things that could be interesting to see in the new CBA which will be coming before games are played in the 2021 season. What do you all think? Are any of these ideas worth going into the agreement? Do you have another idea which you think would be good for the NFL? Or do you like one of these ideas but think it needs to be tweaked in some manner? Make sure you vote in the poll and leave your comments below.


Which of the following ideas do you think would be worthwhile to be in the next CBA?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    3 players who don’t count towards the salary cap
    (109 votes)
  • 20%
    Adding a second bye week which must fall before a team’s Thursday night game
    (90 votes)
  • 9%
    Add a short term IR designation
    (42 votes)
  • 39%
    All of the above! They would all make the NFL better
    (175 votes)
  • 5%
    None. All of these are terrible ideas
    (24 votes)
440 votes total Vote Now