NFL players approve new CBA, 17-game season possible in 2021


The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has approved a new collective bargaining agreement that includes the possibility of extending the regular season to 17 games in 2021.

The deal, ratified by league owners in February, includes the expected addition of two more teams to the playoffs as early as the 2020 season, as well as an increase in minimum salaries for players.

It still required the players' approval, however, and the final vote was close, with the NFLPA revealing the count was 1,019 to 959 in favour.

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"The result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution," the NFLPA said in a statement released on Sunday.

Commissioner Roger Goodell believes the labour deal – which will run through until 2030 – offers "substantial benefits" to both current and retired players, with an increase in benefits and a boost to pensions.

As well as a rise in performance-based pay and player revenue, there will be two additional spots added to rosters – taking the tally active for games to 48 – while practice squad sizes will increase. There is a notable decrease too, with padded practice sessions during training camps cut from 28 to 16.

"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," Goodell said in a statement.

"We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the management council executive committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement."

With a CBA now in place, the new league year is set to open at 16:00 ET (20:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

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