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NFL Players Approve New Agreement: Expanded Playoff and 17-Game Season

NFL players Saturday approved a new labor agreement with the league that includes a 17-game regular season, higher salaries, increased roster sizes and larger pensions for current and former players.

All 32 team owners accepted the 10-year deal last month. However, the NFL Players Association’s membership spent the last week voting on the 439-page document after its executive board rejected it by a 6-5 vote, and the player representatives voted 17-14 in favor of it, with one person abstaining.

The total vote, among the nearly 2,500 union members who participated, was 1,019-959.

“We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

He continues, “We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement.”

The 2020 NFL business season begins Wednesday with free agency and trades, although it could be delayed due to travel restrictions from the coronavirus. A 17-game schedule will not happen before the 2021 season.

The gains players will see from the new agreement include:

* An increase from the 47% of league revenues given to the players, with that percentage dependent on the length of the season.

* A reduction of the preseason, initially from four games to three. In addition, more time off will be provided during training camps.

* Upgraded pensions, with the addition of groups of previous players not included in past agreements.

* Two more roster spots per team, from 53 to 55; that equates to 64 more jobs.

* Larger practice squads with fewer limitations on movement of those players.

* Narrowing the testing period for players for marijuana use, and lowered discipline for using it, as well as a reduction in on-field fines.

The addition of two playoff teams was not part of the bargaining process, as the owners can do so without union approval. That is expected to happen this season, with only the top team in each conference getting a wild-card bye.

The NFL now will turn to negotiating new deals with its broadcast partners.