NFL owners will meet in New York on Thursday to discuss the status of labor negotiations with the NFL Players Association, NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported Wednesday. The players will discuss the owners’ proposal via conference call on Friday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero added.
If all goes well during the next 48 hours or so, Silver added, a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFLPA could be ratified before the start of the new league year on March 18.
The new proposal gives the league the option to expand the regular-season schedule to 17 games, Pelissero and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The likeliest time at which that lever would be pulled is in 2022, Silver added.
Adding a game to the regular-season schedule has been a point of contention between the sides. Some players — including 49ers receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who played 17 regular-season games this year because of a midseason trade — have already spoken out strongly against it.
Aside from the 17-game schedule, the central issue throughout negotiations has been the revenue split.
In the new CBA proposal, players would receive an uptick from the 47 percent of total revenue they are currently guaranteed over the full CBA, which was approved in 2011. Pelissero and Rapoport reported that, under the proposed deal, the players’ share would increase to 48 percent each year if the league stays at 16 games and to 48.5 percent if or when a 17-game schedule is approved.
If the league keeps a 16-game schedule, the players would enjoy a $2.5 billion to $3 billion shift over a 10-year deal, Pelissero and Rapoport reported. If the lever is pulled for a 17-game schedule, the players would reap a potential shift of over $5 billion.
The union had long hoped to achieve such an increase without adding games, but the league has pushed all along for a lever that would allow them to add games as part of the next TV deal.
In addition to adding a regular-season game and shortening the preseason to three games, as expected, the new proposal would expand the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams in 2020. That means only one team per conference would earn a bye.
No change has been made to the number of teams eligible to make the postseason since the playoffs were expanded to 12 teams in 1990.
The CBA, if agreed to in the next month, could go into effect in time for the new league year, potentially altering the salary cap and state of free agency, among other things.
The league, the NFLPA executive committee and player representatives were scheduled to meet Thursday in Washington, D.C., as Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported last week.
The current CBA between the NFL and the NFLPA expires following the 2020 season.