In a vote that went final late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, the NFL Players Association has ratified the league's new collective bargaining agreement.
For coaches, this means, first and foremost, there will be no lockout. The NFL has not endured a lockout since the 1987 strike that shortened that year's season to 15 games. Though the league has navigated a pair of referee lockouts in the interim, the closest the NFL has come to a labor stoppage in the 33 years since was a 5-month lockout that canceled only the Hall of Fame Game.
The new CBA -- approved by a vote of 1,019 to 959 -- will run from 2021 through 2030, ensures 44 straight years of uninterrupted regular-season play (glares in the direction of COVID-19).
And speaking of regular-season play, the NFL is officially moving to a 17-game regular season starting at an undetermined date in the future. It definitely won't happen in 2020 and definitely will happen by 2023; the 2022 season is season as the most likely launch point. This move will shorten the preseason from four games to three. While this isn't as good as the proposal that halved the preseason from four games to two and added a second idle week, it's still seen as a victory for the players to hold off an 18-game regular season until 2031 at the earliest.
Also expanding is the postseason, which will see seven teams reach the field in each conference and only the top seed earning a bye to the divisional round starting this upcoming season. These games are expected to be contained to the existing Saturday and Sunday of Wild Card Weekend, and thus will not affect the College Football Playoff title game the following Monday night.
This is the first time the NFL has expanded its playoffs since 1990. The NFL moved from 14 to 16 regular season games in 1978.
While giving players a larger slice of the revenue pie, the new CBA also expands roster sizes from 53 players to 55.
The new CBA will also change how practices are run. From NFL.com:
The 17th game necessitated changes that will affect player development and could show up on the field immediately. Once the 17-game regular season starts, teams will be limited to 16 padded practices during training camp and no more than three in a row. That is a big change from the current padded-practice limit of 28, so expect coaches to have some thoughts on how that will impact preparation. There will also be a five-day acclimation period that will limit the kind of work done at the very start of camp.
No practice can last longer than 2 1/2 hours and players can't be at the team facility for more than 12 hours per day. And there must be a "bye week" after the third and final preseason game before the start of the regular season.
And this is a big one: Teams are not allowed to add padded practices in the regular season once the 17-game seasons start. Under this new CBA, during the regular season, padded practices will be limited to 14, 11 of which must be held during the first 11 weeks. All of that will remain in place even when the 17-game seasons start.
In regards to college football, the new NFL CBA significantly relaxes the league's drug testing policy, including no longer suspending players who test positive for THC. This leaves the NCAA's policy as the strictest on the books, suspending players half a season for one positive test.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.