Ahead of a crucial vote to expand the NFL season to 17 games, the NFLPA is holding a series of calls available to every player to discuss the newly proposed collective bargaining agreement.
The NFLPA's last meeting of the 32 team player representatives on February 6 concluded without a vote on the matter. The reps must have consent from two-thirds of the group before the vote moves to the full union, where a simply majority will decide the outcome.
According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, the NFLPA has scheduled eight calls—one for each division—in an attempt to inform and hear from as many voices as possible ahead of the vote.
No deadline has been set by the owners for the players to hold the vote. However, the passage of a longer season is seen as a crucial step in negotiations, as the owners are steadfast in their desire for it.
In return for agreeing to an extended regular season and expanded postseason, NFL owners are willing to make a series of concessions including less punitive punishments for marijuana violations, higher minimum salaries, more restrictions on team offseason training programs and a revenue split above the 48 percent the players are currently receiving.
The 17-game season has become a large point of contention, as players are weary of the extra damage to their bodies throughout the year. The owners, however, feel this is an opportunity to greatly boost revenue when the league's broadcast rights deal is up for renewal in 2022. A larger deal, of course, would also include more money for the players under the proposed CBA.
While time isn't yet a factor in negotiations between the two sides, the current CBA is set to expire in March 2021, and that could creep up a lot faster if the players are unable to agree to a 17-game season. A vote in opposition of the expanded season would likely send both sides back to the drawing board. The NFL has seen relative labor peace since it last endured a lockout in 2011. No regular-season games were missed during the lockout, but the league was forced to cancel the annual preseason Hall of Fame Game.
Should the NFLPA agree to a 17-game schedule, the next step would be for the league's owners to vote on the change. The NFL would need 24 of the 32 owners to vote in favor of the new schedule for it to pass.