NFL players narrowly voted to approve the proposed collective bargaining agreement, giving the league a new deal that expands the schedule to 17 games.
The final vote tally was 1,019 to 959. The deal, which was negotiated between the league and the NFL Players Association, will last for 10 years, beginning in 2021.
Sunday’s announcement also helps teams have a clearer picture as to how to go about free agency. If a deal hadn’t been struck, some teams would have avoided spending money if there was labor uncertainty, ESPN reported.
“This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “An independent auditor received submitted ballots through a secure electronic platform, then verified, tallied and certified the results.”
Players had until Saturday to cast a vote.
For the new CBA, the NFL will expand to 17 regular season games with three preseason games in 2021. The league will also change its playoff format, expanding to 14 teams — seven in each conference — while only the top team in the NFC and AFC get a first-round bye. Before, the top two seeds in each conference got the bye.
In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the new CBA will provide “substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football.”
“We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement,” Goodell said.