NFLPA delays CBA vote, will go back to bargaining table

NFLPA leadership, including executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) during a meeting last month with the media prior to Super Bowl LIV

The National Football League Players Association did not vote on a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL as scheduled on February 21, and will now hold more talks this week with league officials.

Earlier on the 21st, the union’s executive committee voted 6-5 to recommend rejecting the terms of the proposed labor deal. Even with that outcome, there had been plans to still present the deal to the full NFLPA membership. But those plans were put on hold, as the union instead opted to return to the bargaining table.

“Our player leadership looks forward to meeting with NFL management again [this] week before the board takes a vote shortly after,” the NFLPA said in a statement. 

Negotiations will be held during the league’s scouting combine this week in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The union’s moves come after NFL owners last week approved the terms of a landmark new labor deal. 

But the players’ reluctance to move as quickly as management did in advancing this deal could suggest in part ongoing resistance and differences in opinion regarding the NFL’s push to increase the regular season and add a 17th game to each team’s schedule. The league very much wants the schedule expansion, in part to provide media networks additional game inventory as it goes to market for its next media rights cycle.

Players, however, have repeatedly expressed concerns about the potential health and safety impacts to players by expanding the regular season.  

The proposed labor deal contains a number of other sweeping changes, including an expansion of the annual playoff field from 12 teams to 14, and shifts to minimum salaries, pension provisions for both past and present players, and practice and preseason schedules.

Union approval of a new labor deal requires a simple majority vote of the full NFLPA membership.

The current 10-year labor deal expires after the 2020 season.