Publisher's Notebook: Is NFL Labor Strife on the Horizon?

Todd Karpovich

The NFL owners approved the terms of potential new collective bargaining agreement.

Now, the onus is on the players to follow suit, but that remains uncertain.

The players will discuss whether to accept a new agreement beginning on Feb. 21, but the vote could go either way judging by some of the reactions in social media. Both sides are looking to replace the 10-year labor agreement that expires in March 2021 and avoid a  potential future lockout.

The new proposal includes expanding the NFL's regular-season schedule to 17 games possibly beginning in 2021, according to reports. There is also a plan to reportedly increase the postseason from six teams to seven for each conference. As part of that proposal that could take effect this upcoming season, only one team from each conference would receive a first-round bye. 

"Following more than ten months of intensive and thorough negotiations, the NFL Players and clubs have jointly developed a comprehensive set of new and revised terms that will transform the future of the game, provide for players — past, present, and future — both on and off the field, and ensure that the NFL's second century is even better and more exciting for the fans," NFL officials said in a statement."The membership voted today to accept the negotiated terms on the principal elements of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Players Association would also need to vote to approve the same terms for there to be a new agreement.

"Since the clubs and players need to have a system in place and know the rules that they will operate under by next week, the membership also approved moving forward under the final year of the 2011 CBA if the players decide not to approve the negotiated terms. Out of respect for the process and our partners at the NFLPA, we will have no further comment at this time."

The question is now whether the players will agree to the changes. 

If the players reject the plan, there is a possibility everything gets scrapped and the two sides would have to unveil a new strategy. Several NFL agents are having difficulty handicapping the vote because it involves about 2,000 players. 

"It might be a breeze or it might be thrown out," said one NFL insider close to the situation. 

The deal would certainly help the players not making a lot of money and the potential extra $90,000 to $100,000 would make a huge difference. 

The future is now for the NFL.