NFL players narrowly approve 10-year deal with club owners

New York (AFP) –


NFL players have voted to approve a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with team owners by a margin of 1,019-959, the NFL Players Association announced Sunday.

The 60-vote victory for supporters of the offer sets the stage for two more teams in the NFL playoffs and likely a 17th regular-season game for clubs.

"This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution," the NFL players union said in a statement. "An independent auditor received submitted ballots through a secure electronic platform, then verified, tallied and certified the results."

Several star players spoke out against the proposal, including Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Houston defensive end J.J. Watt.

The window for voting on the offer, which was approved last month by NFL team owners and recommended by union leaders, ended Saturday just before midnight.

Agreement to the deal will ensure labor peace for the league through the 2030 campaign. The current deal that expires after the 2020 season.

"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.

Chief among objections by players was a concern over the toll extra games would take upon their bodies even with extra money thanks to a boost in broadcast rights revenues.

The move comes ahead of Wednesday's scheduled start of the business year for the 2020 campaign.

League and union leaders were set to meet later Sunday regarding how to handle matters during the coronavirus outbreak that has shut down American sports.

Issues such as physicals for players signing contracts could become problematic given the desire to avoid the spread of the virus.

The NFL proposal would add two playoff teams, and create two extra post-season games, starting with the 2020 playoffs. Only the teams with the best record in each conference would be awarded first-round byes, not the top two as happens now.

The deal gives the NFL the option to add a 17th regular-season game to the schedule as soon as 2021, something they are all-but certain to do to increase revenues.

Players would make more money. Their share of total NFL revenues, which will rise, would increase one percentage point to 48 per cent.

Players will likely split more than $70 million from about $150 million in extra revenue from the two playoff game alone, according to the NFLPA.

Minimum NFL salaries would jump from $510,000 to $610,000 this year and rise to $1.06 million by 2030.

Active game-day rosters would jump from 46 to 48 players with extra practice squad talent allowed as well, so more NFL player jobs would be added.

The deal limits the league to no more than 10 international games in any season through 2025.