New NFL CBA: Expanded Playoffs (Now), 17-Games (Eventually), Bigger Rosters, Fifth-Year Options, Rev-Share, MUCH More

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New NFL CBA: Expanded Playoffs (Now), 17-Games (Eventually), Bigger Rosters, Fifth-Year Options, Rev-Share, MUCH More

Chicago Bears

Earlier today, word dropped that the players union narrowly voted to ratify and adopt the new CBA. And now that the news is out, it’s time to go over some of the (many) changes and potential impacts. Let’s dive in.

  • First, here’s the statement from the NFLPA ratifying the CBA (look how narrowly it passed!):

  • As you can imagine, with things winding up so close, not all players are thrilled at the outcome:

  • A statement from The Commish:

  • Noteworthy: Commissioner Roger Goodell will no longer be judge, jury, executioner when it comes to wielding punishment. Moving forward, a neutral party will play the role of decision-maker in disciplinary hearings. That feels like an improvement.
  • There’s going to be some real fallout here, so good luck to new NFLPA President J.C. Trotter on his future endeavors as he tries to keep the peace among his union:

  • Ultimately, a newly ratified CBA brings 10 more years of labor pace, an increase in revenue shares, more benefits for retired players, an expanded postseason (starting in 2020) and eventually a longer regular season with fewer preseason games (2021 at the earliest). Now, let’s get to why it passed, before some of the specifics.
  • Overall, the expected revenue share from the players end is $5 billion. Yes, billion with a “B” in the front. Players get a 1 percent increase in revenue shares from the current CBA as it bumps up to 48 percent. A one-percent jump doesn’t look like much, but we’re talking about millions upon millions of dollars. So, yeah, every percentage point is valuable. Indeed, it could even bump up to 48.5 when the league switches to 17 games.
  • Speaking of which, a neat nugget when it comes to paying players: Instead of getting paid during the 17 weeks of the NFL season, payments will be spread out over 34 weeks. That should help players better balance their own budgets over the calendar year.
  • Minimum salaries for rookies will get a $100,000 boost in 2020, $50,000 in 2021, and $45,000 in the years that follow. That’s a nice boost, and a likely reason why the rank-and-file players voted to approve the CBA.
  • There will be more players getting money, too. The active roster is going from 53 to 55, while the game-day roster is going up from 46 to 48 players. This means more room for players on the fringes of the 53-man roster, as well as increased opportunities to shore up some spots with much-needed depth. We’re likely to see an increase in offensive linemen on active game-day rosters, as teams usually carried between 7-9 offensive in previous years.
  • I hope you have room in your hearts to love even more practice squad players. That unit expands from 10 to 14 players.
  • More money. More players. More football. A 17-game schedule is on the horizon, as is an expanded playoff picture. Specifically, the new CBA includes the expansion of the playoffs from six to seven teams in each conference – beginning in 2020 (that’s now!) – and an increase in regular-season games from 16 to 17, starting in 2021 at the earliest. According to ChicagoBears.com, “The new playoff format will add one extra game in each conference during wild card weekend, with the second seed hosting the seventh seed. In the past, the top two seeds had a first-round bye. But now only the No. 1 seed in each conference will earn the first weekend off.”
  • On the surface, that looks good. Who doesn’t want to see more playoff football? I still have fears that, over the long haul, we’ll get more teams rewarded for mediocrity while hurting the odds of the upper echelon teams. The NFL playoffs are nothing like the MLB or NBA postseason, where the best team often shows itself and wins out over the course of a seven-game series. Football’s postseason is a one-and-done that often reminds us about the old adage of what can happen on any given Sunday.
  • For a little added reference, here’s what last season’s playoffs would’ve looked like under these new rules:

Here's what last year's NFL playoff picture would have looked like under the new CBA.

Posted by ESPN on Sunday, March 15, 2020

  • As ESPN’s Dan Graziano notes, the fifth-year option for 2017 first-round picks are still injury-only guaranteed through March 2021. Meaning, for example, if the Bears pick up the option on Trubisky’s rookie deal, they can rescind it and clear the cap space that comes with it while not being hit with any dead money. There had been concerns that the option year could be fully guaranteed upon execution, meaning no opportunity to back-door out of it. That won’t be the case for the class of 2017. HOWEVER, starting with the class of 2018, the fifth-year option will be fully guaranteed when exercised in May 2021. This is something we’ll keep an eye on regarding Roquan Smith when the time comes.
  • Ex-Bears LB Sam Acho weighs in:

  • The alternate universe had this not passed:

  • We’ll have more on the salary cap ramifications of the new CBA, as it increases to $198.2 million. There’s so much to unpack in this deal. Here’s to both sides being happy with it for 10 years.


Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.