The deadline for NFL players to vote on the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and the NFLPA is Saturday, March 14 at 11:59 PM EST. As we head into the final hours of the voting period, Pro Football Network Insider Tony Pauline has been hearing numerous reports from sources regarding the latest on what players and owners are thinking and how the vote may play out. Pauline originally reported this on the most recent episode of the PFN Draft Insiders Podcast, which was released on Thursday morning. The details of that conversation with co-host Andy Herman are below. If you’d like to listen to the conversation, which begins around the 30-minute mark, you can click here. We’ve also included the podcast player at the end of the article for easy access and listening.
The CBA is not guaranteed to pass
At the NFL Combine, Pauline reported that all signs pointed to this being a done deal and that the CBA was going to pass. However, earlier this week, people close to the situation told Pauline that passage was not guaranteed. In fact, one source he spoke to said that if they had to put a number on it, they would say that it’s 55 to 45 percent where it won’t pass. And while someone else told Pauline that they thought the CBA was going to pass as of Tuesday afternoon, there was some change in thought from Tuesday night to Wednesday night based on new information, which Pauline explained. “Essentially, information got to the players too late and there was also the social media effect,” Pauline said. “What do I mean by the social media effect? A number of people told me that rather than do a deep dive into the proposal that was sent by the owners and ask questions, too many players were going off of what other big names players were putting on Twitter when they were saying, ‘vote it down, vote no on the CBA.’ Too many players, as I was told, took opinion as fact, rather than doing their own research in what was offered to them by the owners.”
Some are angry at NFLPA Executive President DeMaurice Smith
Pauline was told by sources that there was quite a bit of player anger towards NFLPA Executive President DeMaurice Smith and in fact, it may be getting worse. Pauline explained part of the reasoning behind this. “The problem is – from what I’m told – is that a lot of players who voted no are now finding out the details about the proposal that was sent to them. They wish they could vote yes, but they were told that once you vote no, you can’t change it. So, their no vote is basically stuck,” Pauline said. “However, someone in the league told me that there are more than 1,000 players who haven’t voted. They have researched it and have taken a good look at the proposal. They are asking all the right questions and the hopes right now are that the remaining players will vote yes. The bottom line is this – passage of the CBA is not guaranteed and ultimately it’s going to be a lot closer than what people think – or at least what we were led to believe – at the Combine.”
Why are some players angry at the proposed CBA?
Herman, who stated that it had seemed like a foregone conclusion that the CBA would pass, asked Pauline why some players were angry and why they were voting no on the proposed CBA. Pauline said that there were two reasons for this. “First, the players at the top are upset that they are only going to make the $250,000 extra for the 17th regular season. But what I’ve been told is that $250,000 for the 17th regular season only affects about 145 players. And if that 17th regular season game isn’t introduced until 2022, that number goes down to about 65 players. When they say the players are only getting paid $250,00, it’s only about 145 players that are making less. Everyone else is actually making more – that $250k is a bump in pay.” Pauline went on to say that the other reason why some players were upset is because they wanted the 50/50 revenue split and they were irked that they did not get it. Instead, it’s more around a 48/52 revenue split. A source told Pauline that for some players, voting no on the proposal would be a stand against the establishment. However, Pauline noted that while the players didn’t get the 50/50 split in this proposal, there are other benefits in the agreement that makes up for this. “The problem is that while it may not be a 50/50 split in revenue, there are a lot of non-monetary benefits and enhancements that will basically surpass the 1.5% revenue they may be missing out on,” Pauline said. “There are more enhanced pension benefits, better injury settlements for the players, and other goodies in the contract that a lot of people didn’t research. They just went by what they were reading on Twitter with certain players telling them to vote no rather than looking at the overall benefits that were outside the 50/50 split.”
What happens if the CBA proposal is voted down by the players?
Herman, who noted that it all comes down to the final vote, asked Pauline what would happen if the CBA proposal is voted down by the players. Unfortunately, Pauline said that it would leave a bad taste in the mouths of many across the NFL. “This would lead to a lot of bad things. Spending is going to be turned off immediately and it’s going to have a trickledown effect,” Pauline said. “Free agency will go on, but teams aren’t going to be spending big for the 2020 season when they know the 2021 season is in doubt…top free agents like Byron Jones and Joe Thuney will still get paid, but others like Chris Harris and James Bradberry are very likely not going to get the deal they are hoping for..” And at the end of the conversation, Pauline explained why a no vote would not be good for the players. “Someone told me that the damage suffered from a no vote would be unrecoverable – and that is in large part because of all the extras that were thrown into the 2020 season that the players won’t be able to recover. Right now, I’m told the NFLPLA has no plan in place if the CBA is not passed. It’s sort of an expectation that from the players and NFLPA that if they vote no, the owners are going to come back to the table with major concessions. But as I’ve said before on this show, that’s not going to happen.”
The deadline for the vote is fast approaching
Herman stated that while this is not an easy or fun conversation to have, it is an important one. He noted how it’s going to have a massive impact on this season and the next, and just how important this vote is. Pauline agreed and reiterated again that passage of the CBA is not guaranteed, and it’s going to be closer than many people expect. Stay tuned to Pro Football Network for all of the latest information regarding the CBA and other news and rumors throughout the NFL by following our re-vamped News and Rumors Tracker. You can also follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 as well as Pauline: @TonyPauline and Herman: @AndyHermanNFL.