The Impact of the NFL’s New Collective Bargaining Agreement

Mar 24, 2020

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The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the NFL agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that will bring with it some interesting changes. The new contract was ratified by a vote of 1,019 to 959 staunching any labor unrest for the next 11 years.

The new deal goes into effect this season and extends through 2030. The biggest changes involve the playoffs, the regular-season schedule, and player compensation.

Player Salaries
In any contract negotiation, the subject of money is usually a key component. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will share more of the NFL’s annual revenue with the players beginning with 47 percent in 2020. The split rises to 48 percent in 2021 and has the ability to rise to 48.5 percent in certain seasons.

The most important result regarding player salaries in the new agreement affects the 65 percent of NFL players that make minimum salaries. Beginning in 2020, the rookie minimum salary will increase by $100,000 from $510,000 to $610,000. Rookie minimums will top out at $1.065 million in 2030.

Veteran minimums will increase as well. Players with at least one year of experience but less than seven will earn $675,000 ($585,000 previously). Players with at least seven years of NFL experience will now have a minimum salary of $1.05 million beginning in 2020.

Another interesting twist in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will change how players are paid. Currently, players are paid their salary only during the 17-week season. Under the new agreement, players will be paid over 34 weeks instead of 17.

The Postseason
The one thing in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will impact the game the most is the change to the current playoff structure. One additional team per conference will now qualify for the postseason – seven teams in each conference, 14 teams total.

Only the top team in the AFC and NFC will receive a bye in the first round. In year’s past, teams receiving a bye were not paid during the first playoff week. That will change also. The top-seeded team in each conference will earn $42,500 during the bye week. Players playing during wild-card weekend will receive $37,500.

The additional team in the postseason will have a huge impact on the fight for the No. 1 seed and on late-season games among teams fighting for wild cards. Under the current format, it was typical for teams that had locked up the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to rest starters in Week 17 (and sometimes in Week 16).

The top seed will have a huge advantage now in that it only has to win two games to get to the Super Bowl. All other teams will have to win three. The battle for No. 1 could affect play in the final weeks of the regular season. The same is true of teams competing for the now three wild card berths.

Season Schedule
With the new agreement, the NFL now has the option to add a 17th game to the regular season. An extra game cannot go into effect until the 2021 season and, if added, brings about some huge changes. An additional game would put into effect an increase in player revenues. Remember the 48 percent share in 2020? That number can rise in 2021 if the league decides to play an extra game.

There would also be big changes to the league’s training camp schedule. Preseason games would drop to three and there would be new rules applied to the number of practices during camp. Currently, teams can have 28 padded practices during training camp. That number would fall to 16 if the regular-season schedule expands.

Fantasy & Betting
Should the league go to 17 games, it will impact the way fantasy football is played. Leagues will have to modify their rules regarding playoff formats. Most leagues now begin postseason play in Week 14 with a championship in Week 16. That will have to change.

For bettors and sportsbooks everywhere, an additional regular-season game and another team in the postseason simply mean more revenues. Maryland and Virginia are considering the proposal of a bill to allow gambling in professional sports stadiums.