By the slimmest of margins, the players voted to pass a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will begin for the 2020 season and extend through the next decade.
The voting, which came down to just 60 votes, ended late Saturday night, but the players voted to ratify the proposed CBA, which includes notable changes such as a seventh playoff team for each conference, an option to increase the regular-season schedule to 17 games and major pay increases, including minimum salaries and player revenue.
Starting in 2021, the NFL will likely shorten the preseason to just three games to coincide with the 17-game schedule.
Both the NFLPA and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released statements Sunday morning on the announcement.
"NFL players have voted to approve ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement by a vote tally of 1,019 to 959," the NFLPA said in a statement. "This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution. An independent auditor received submitted ballots through a secure electronic platform, then verified, tallied and certified the results."
Commissioner Goodell also sent out a statement:
"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," Goodell said in the statement. "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."
Other aspects of the new CBA include:
- A proposal to increase the rosters from 53 to 55 players.
- An increase in the practice squad from 10 to as many as 14 players.
- Changes to the drug policy that includes a reduction in penalties and a shorter testing window. Also, there will be a higher threshold for a positive test, likely reducing the number of players who test positive for non-performing-enhancing drugs.
- A reduction in padded-practice by nearly 50 percent. Teams can now have only 16 padded practices during the entirety of camp, down from 28. Padded practices cannot exceed 2.5 hours, down from three hours.
- Increased benefits and revenue for retired players.
While most of the world of sports has either canceled events or press pause because of the coronavirus, the NFL is expected to begin its new league season at 3 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Teams can also start to negotiate with free agents on Monday at 11 a.m.