It took a bit of prodding—ownership didn’t seem to share the players’ sense of urgency until this week—but the start of NFL training camp is no longer in danger. That’s because the NFL and its players union have struck a deal, agreeing to a revised CBA addressing new safety protocols and language allowing players to opt out with minimal repercussions. Here are a few highlights of the reported agreement:
- Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this year’s salary cap of $198 million will remain intact despite expected revenue losses stemming from the coronavirus. Under terms of the amended CBA (which the NFLPA passed by an overwhelming 29-3 margin on Friday), next year’s cap cannot be lower than $175 million, though it can exceed that amount if revenue totals are higher than expected.
- According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, players who are considering opting out of the upcoming 2020 season amid COVID concerns will have to make their decision within the next seven days. Players deemed as “high risk” are entitled to a $350,000 stipend should they choose to sit out. Contracts will toll in that scenario, though “high risk” individuals will be credited with an accrued season. Players who opt out voluntarily (meaning they don’t fit the league’s criteria for “high risk” status) are only entitled to a $150,000 salary advance and won’t gain an accrued season. Their contracts will also toll. Once a decision is made, all opt-outs are final.
- Pelissero’s NFL Network colleague Ian Rapoport offers more insight on the new deal, noting the NFL’s revenue loss due to COVID will impact the league’s salary cap from 2021-24. The NFLPA had hoped that financial hit would be spread evenly through 2030 (when the CBA expires), but eventually compromised. If the season can’t be completed for any reason (COVID’s continued prevalence makes that a definite possibility), players will still earn their full 2020 salaries, though payments could be delayed.
Players would have preferred the league address their concerns sooner with training camp just days away, but Friday’s 11th-hour resolution was probably as good an outcome as the union could have hoped for. While festering tension between MLB players and owners will surely lead to a work stoppage in 2022, the cordial tone of NFL labor talks this spring certainly played a role in Friday’s relatively painless negotiations. Chiefs coach Andy Reid was reportedly a uniting force in this week’s discussions, acting as a de facto moderator for the two sides.
The NFL has scrapped preseason games for this year, but veterans will still report to training camp as scheduled on Tuesday.