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The NFL/NFLPA CBA has life after some surprising changes

The NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement seems to be gaining some momentum after some changes were made.

NFL: FEB 04 Super Bowl XLV - Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference Photo by Jerome Davis/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I have been one of the most boisterous doom and gloomers regarding a new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) being ratified by the owners imposed March 18th deadline. Now I am on the verge of eating a double portion of crow.

The CBA has been in negotiations for the past 10 months, and was finally being voted on by both sides. The NFL ownership required a two-thirds majority to ratify the agreement. No final tally was released, but it was reported that only a few owners voted against it. (I have seen no reports who voted against, or how the Pittsburgh Steelers ownership voted.)

Last Friday, the NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 against approval of the CBA in its current form. This is the same 11 person committee who has spent all those months negotiating the 10 year extension. My assumption is that the owners played hardball with the committee and said, “Take it or leave it.”.

Tuesday, the owners and players met in a four-hour marathon meeting. Both sides exited the meeting tight lipped. But one aspect which was changed during the meeting and was leaked was the owners gave in to the players demand that the pay for the 17th game would not be capped at $250,000.

After the meeting concluded, the NFLPA team player reps conducted their own meeting and voted on the CBA in its current form. The vote ended with 17 in favor, 14 against, and one abstaining. The vote was thought to have needed a two-thirds majority to pass — turns out this is not the case according to the Washington Post.

It previously had been thought that the deal had to be approved by at least two-thirds of the player reps before being put to a vote of all players. But the NFLPA’s constitution says: “Any Collective Bargaining Agreement tentatively agreed to by the Board of Representatives with the owner representatives shall not be binding on the NFLPA until it has been ratified by a majority of the members of the NFLPA voting for ratification or rejection.”

Now the vote lies in the hands of the full NFLPA membership, which needs a simple majority to accept or decline the agreement that would keep peace between the two parties through the 2030 season. Undoubtedly the owners would like the vote to occur before the March 12 deadline for teams to place the franchise tag on players.

In a previous article, I discussed some aspects that have leaked out of the negotiations, but I ran across a few more and clarifications.

  1. With an additional week of games being added to the schedule, not all would be international games. According to the Washington Post, the teams would alternate between nine home games a year and eight the next. (I really dislike this format and they should play the extra games on neutral sites.)
  2. The suspension for marijuana would drastically change. They would not suspend players unless the sample was fraudulent, tampered with or the player is a habitual offender. How the wording and implementation be? How transparent will the process be?
  3. A neutral party appointed by the NFLPA and the owners would hand player initial discipline while commissioner Roger Goodell would handle the appeals process. Another big win for the players taking Goodell, and his heavy handedness, out of the initial process.

Steeler Nation will have to patiently await the outcome of the vote. If they ratify a new CBA, the Steelers can continue business as usual and restructure contracts to free up cap space. If they defeat the new deal, the 30% rule will remain in place and the Steelers personnel decisions could be more drastic.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 Scouting Combine, Free Agency and the NFL Draft.