Major Changes Coming to NFL After Players Pass New Agreement
The NFL’s Players Association voted in favor of the proposed collective bargaining agreement on Sunday, with 1,019 players in favor of the deal and 959 opposed. The proposal included a handful of changes that will affect the league as a whole, so here are the differences we’ll be seeing in the league for the coming seasons.
The 17-game regular season is coming, but not until the 2021 season. By next year, seasons will feature 17 regular-season games, a change that was supported by the majority of team owners and players. With the regular season becoming longer, the preseason will be seeing a reduction in games played, with teams now participating in only three.
The playoffs will look a little different soon, with a seventh team being added to the playoffs in each conference. That means we’ll get a total of six Wild Card games, with only the No. 1 team in each conference receiving a bye-week.
The roster size will be increased, with teams now having 55 players on their rosters and 14 players on their practice squad. This is up from 53 active players and 10 practice squad members.
The league has been famously anti-marijuana, but the CBA brings major drug changes to the NFL. Suspensions for positive drug tests have been eliminated and are being replaced with fines of up to three weeks of a player’s pay. Failure to cooperate with testing and clinical care will lead to suspension, but that only comes after the fourth violation. Players will now be drug tested two weeks from training camp instead of the usual four months, and the testing threshold for marijuana will be increased reducing the number of positive tests.
Drug testing for performance-enhancing drugs is being dramatically increased, with players who test positive for steroids at risk of receiving a six-game suspension, up from four games. DUI’s will also now carry a three-game suspension, up from two.
Finally, with the passing of the agreement, we are given the guarantee of at least another 10-years of the NFL. While other professional sports leagues have faced postponements due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the NFL has yet to announce any similar moves. Until now, let’s take joy in the fact that when football is finally back on, we get a whole extra glorious day of sports.