NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith believes the players will agree to the proposed collective bargaining agreement even though some have expressed reservations about the deal.
ESPN's Todd Archer shared Smith's comments from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis:
"Man, democracy is messy. And when you urge players to become part of a union, when you decide instead of having sort of a bubble that excludes people, that you want people not only to become involved in your union but become reps in the union, to take leadership roles in your union, how could you ever take a position that you have some sort of adverse effect if they express their feelings, right? Can you imagine a role where you go through this whole thing and nobody cared?"
The addition of a 17th regular-season game is one of the biggest aspects of the proposed CBA.
Beyond the physical toll they'd absorb with one more week on the schedule, players were also upset with a $250,000 cap on their game checks for the extra contest. Owners have since removed the cap, but that probably won't be enough to convince every member of the NFLPA.
"No player wants to play a 17th game, and that's why it's been a torturous process," Smith said, per Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson are among the most notable stars to publicly come out against the CBA proposal:
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was critical of Smith, while former teammate Maurkice Pouncey didn't mince words with his feelings toward the NFLPA executives (warning: video contains profanity):
James Harrison @jharrison9292
The @NFLPA has the WORST leadership under @DeSmithNFLPA! The same person who gave us that terrible deal in 2011 (@steelers voted no) just tried the same thing in 2020! This deal shouldn't have even been on the table! Do what's best for the players or go work for the @NFL! https://t.co/l4jCLTZfUu
Brooke Pryor @bepryor
Maurkice Pouncey is strongly against the CBA. He posted this (NSFW) a couple hours ago: “I vote no. Our NFLPA, the dudes at the top, the leaders, that’s f’ing bs. F that. They’re not looking out for the best of the players. If y’all want my vote, the Pouncey twins vote no.” https://t.co/hp4AqlG7Qu
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 against the CBA, and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported a committee member switched his vote to make it 7-4 against. However, the 32 player representatives voted 17-14 (with one abstention) to send the CBA to the full NFLPA union membership.
Pelissero cited the increased minimum salaries as one reason the proposal is likely to have support within the union:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
A primary reason NFL players are expected to ratify the proposed CBA: Nearly 60% of league makes minimum base salaries, which would spike immediately by over 20% and eclipse $1 million for all players by 2029. From term sheet NFLPA sent to agents (in 1000s, by credited seasons): https://t.co/kRbLlzqGjO
Should the proposal fail to gain a majority in the player vote, there isn't an immediate threat of a work stoppage since the current CBA covers the 2020 season.
However, the development would present a significant hurdle in ongoing negotiations between owners and the NFLPA.