NEW YORK — For all the bells and whistles of the NFL owners latest collective bargaining agreement proposal, the central issue remains expanding the regular season from 16 games to 17 games.
NFL owners were told on short notice to get to New York for a meeting Thursday to review and vote on management’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) proposal.
Even though the current CBA has another year left before it expires, owners want to address the less-than-stellar product that is preseason football. Currently, the NFL plays a four preseason,16 regular-season game schedule.
They would like that changed to 3 preseason and 17 regular-season games with an ultimate goal, at least as suspected by star cornerback Richard Sherman, of going to a two preseason, 18 regular-season game format.
Expanding the playoff pool from 12 to 14 teams, increasing players' benefits and pay, while again limiting practice time, are also part of the owners’ proposal.
The rush to get it done now is because the owners would like a new CBA ratified before the 2020 salary cap, free-agent budgets, franchise tags, restricted free agent tenders, fifth-year options and minimum salary amounts are established next week.
The 32 clubs – the Broncos were represented by owner delegee Joe Ellis – formally approved their own proposal Thursday. It now goes to the players union for a vote via conference call Friday.
Initially, the players' reps were scheduled to fly into Washington D.C. for a meeting Thursday. That meeting was rescheduled for Friday, then canceled and replaced by the conference call.
It was a switch worth nothing as in-person meetings with football players on 17-game proposals have to date become spirited. Conference calls, as a general rule, tend to be more sedate.
“One thing that I would prefer is to be in a room with everyone,’’ said Broncos’ player rep Brandon McManus, who will be on the conference call Friday.
McManus found out too late about the canceled meetings and flew to Washington D.C. on Wednesday only to fly back to Denver on Thursday.
“With 50 to 60 people on the call, you can’t get the vibe of the room. You can’t have multiple people talking to each other at the same time.’’
If the players don’t approve the owners’ proposal – and none other than J.J. Watt may have set the tone by tweeting his dissent on Thursday night – the owners voted to revert to the existing CBA rules that were drawn up in 2011.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports