As the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic, the Jets and the National Football League are continuing to conduct business in a strange, uncertain time.
The players narrowly voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement over the weekend, ensuring labor peace until 2030. Hours after Sunday's announcement, there was a flurry of transactions. The league's negotiating period with players who will become unrestricted free agents began at noon Monday and the league year and the free agency period are set to commence Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.
Some major takeaways from the new CBA include:
*Expanded 14-Team Playoffs *Beginning next season, there will be an additional wild-card team from each conference. Only the top seed in each conference will get a first-round bye and there will be two added games on Wild Card Weekend. The matchups on that first weekend will be No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
League Option to Expand to 17 Games
While the 2020 season will look routine with 16 regular-season games and four preseason contests, the league has an option to add a 17th regular-season game beginning in 2021. Nothing has been decided as to how the league would conduct the 17th game as ideas have been floated about including international and neutral-site contests.
Significant Practice Changes
Once the 17-game regular season starts, teams will be limited to 16 padded practices during training camp as opposed to the 28 padded workouts they are restricted to now. And once the 17-game regular season commences, clubs won't be allowed to add padded practices from the current limit of 14 with 11 must being held during the first 11 weeks.
The active roster on gameday will move from 46 to 48 players, and one of the extra players is required to be an offensive lineman. Practice squads will expand to 12 players in 2020 and 2021, and then up to 14 starting in 2022. Two practice-squad players each week can be shifted to the roster, meaning the weekly roster size will be 55.
Increase Salaries and Benefits
It's been estimated that 60% of NFL players work on minimum-salary deals and their pay is going to increase by roughly 20% immediately. The expansion of the playoffs will result in tens of millions and the players will get at least 48% of all league revenue starting in 2021. The new agreement also includes increased benefits for active and former players. While the players vote was razor close, there will be labor peace through the 2030 season.