GREEN BAY – NFL players approved a new collective bargaining agreement this weekend by a vote of 1,019-959, clearing the way for a 17-game regular season, an expansion of the postseason and several other measures in the coming years.
The deal, which runs through the 2030 season, required only a simple majority of players to ratify and comes a year before the previous CBA was set to expire in March 2021.
The agreement calls for an increase in benefits and revenue to retired players, while minimum salaries will rise for current players. Players also will see their percentage of their share of overall revenue rise from 47 percent to 48, with further possible increases based upon future media contracts.
For Packers fans, here are a few notable changes set to roll out in the coming seasons:
- The new CBA opens the door for a 17th regular-season game, which could take effect between 2021 and 2023. It's the first time the league has expanded the regular season since expanding from 14 games to 16 in 1978. With no requisite neutral-site games, the league would need to devise a way to handle the additional home game.
- It's expected the league will reduce the preseason to only three games once the 17th regular-season game is added, with players receiving a bye in lieu of the traditional fourth preseason game.
- The postseason will expand from 12 to 14 teams with an additional wild-card team in each conference, a change that could come as soon as next season. That seventh-qualifying team will play the No. 2 seed, leaving only the top seed in each conference to receive a bye to the divisional round. If enacted this past year, the Packers would have hosted the 9-7 Los Angeles Rams in a wild-card game.
- Gameday rosters will grow from 46 to 48 players and give teams more flexibility to "call up" two players from their practice squad each week, essentially allowing for a 55-man active roster. One provision that has been added is at least eight offensive linemen must be active if a team chooses to dress 48. If a team opts against eight, it will only be permitted 47 gameday actives. Accordingly, the practice squad could expand to as many as 14 players over the next two seasons. Up to three players also may be designated to return from injured reserve.
- Teams will be permitted only 16 padded practices during training camp, with a five-day acclimation period before pads go on. Those padded sessions cannot exceed 2½ hours, instead of three. The Packers did not exceed 2½ hours in any of their public camp practices last summer. Teams also are limited to no more than four joint practices. Green Bay hosted two against the Houston Texans last August. Once the regular season begins, teams will still be limited to 14 padded practices (11 of which must be held in the first 11 weeks). No additional padded practices can be added once a 17-game schedule is implemented.
- Teams no longer can use both the franchise tag and transition tag in the same offseason. It's one or the other. That shouldn't be too big of an issue for the Packers, who haven't used either tag in a decade.
- No more than 10 international games will be played per season from 2020-25.
- An independent arbitrator, jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA, would handle most disciplinary cases.