Yesterday, the NFLPA officially ratified the new collective bargaining agreement between the players association and the National Football League. This will ensure peace between both parties for 11 years from 2020-2030.
The vote just passed with 1,019 “yes” votes, and 959 “no votes”. Shockingly, around 500 players did not submit a vote whatsoever. However, soon-to-be former Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye intimated on Instagram that several players may have not received an email, or were sent an error upon attempting to vote.
With the new CBA also came the NFL’s announcement of the official salary cap for the 2020 league year. The NFL salary cap is set to $198.2M in 2020, a raise of $10M from a year prior. Because the new salary cap has been released, figures for franchise tags are now able to be calculated.
Since the Jaguars have officially placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, his tender will officially be set at $17,788,000, according to the NFL.
Expected 17-Game Season as early as 2021
Will the biggest change to the NFL is the expansion of the regular season to 17 games, the expansion will not occur during the 2020 NFL season. According to the new CBA, the league is expected to increase the games played during the regular season from 16 games to 17 games as early as the 2021 season and has the ability to do so between such year until 2023.
Upon the ratification of the 17th regular season game, the league will then move to only three preseason games. Players will be given a “bye week” following the third preseason game in preparation for the regular season. Currently, the NFL has four preseason games on schedule for a 16-game season.
Expanded Playoff Structure
While there will not be 17 games in 2020, the NFL will be changing the playoff structure beginning this upcoming season. The NFL will see 14 — instead of 12 — teams compete in the playoffs beginning this upcoming season.
Each conference will have seven teams competing, with one team — the number one seed —, receiving a first-round bye week, making it even more important for a team to finish first in their respective conference. This is a drastic change as in the past the top-two seeds in each conference received a first-round bye. There will, now, instead be six teams, per conference, competing in the wild-card round.
Fifth-Year Options Are Now Fully guaranteed
An addition in the CBA ratified in 2011, NFL teams have had the ability to extend a first-round rookie player’s contract by one season by way of a fifth-year option. The options, prior to the newly ratified CBA, were guaranteed for injury only. This means, at any point in time, a team could release a player without any penalty, unless the player had a debilitating injury, preventing them from passing a physical.
Now, the fifth-year option is fully guaranteed — full stop. The team will owe the player the full amount allotted to him.
The Jaguars have only used the fifth-year option on two players since 2011, former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (2016 first-round selection) and quarterback Blake Bortles (2014 first-round selection). Neither player would ultimately see their fifth-year with the team as Bortles given a contract extension prior to his fifth season with the team and Ramsey was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, one season prior to his.
Note: An earlier version of this article mentioned Leonard Fournette as being a player who would fall under this rule — the new rule actually goes into effect starting with the 2018 draft class. For the Jaguars, that includes defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
Game-Day Active Roster, Practice Squad Expansion
The NFL will be expanding all team rosters by two, bringing the total active rosters to 48 players active on gameday, however there is a caveat. The team’s active rosters must carry one additional offensive lineman — a minimum of eight active offensive linemen. If a club is carrying less than eight active offensive linemen, the club’s active roster must be limited to 47.
Practice squad expansion will also occur, starting in 2020, the NFL will expand the practice squad to 12 players, from 10 through 2021. In 2022, 14 practice squad players will be allowed. One of the perks of an expanded practice squad comes with the theoretical expansion of a team’s active 53-man roster.
A club will be permitted to promote one or two practice squad player to their active 53-man roster without the need to release a player, bringing the total active roster to 55 players.
However, once one day following the team’s game, the players which were deemed active for such gameday will then be reverted back to the team’s practice squad.
Hold Outs Will Be Trickier For Players
Any player which does not report to training camp will be fined a mandatory $50,000 each day in accordance to the new CBA, and teams will no longer be permitted to waive each or reduce the fines.
Last season, the Jaguars waived all fines owed by Ngakoue for missing 11 days of training camp, which would amount to $550,000 in accordance to the new CBA. Now, a player will be further incentivized not to hold out, particularly those on rookie, or low-earning contracts.
International Games Limitation
The international game limitation could have a significant impact on the Jaguars resolution to play games in London. Earlier this year, the Jaguars announced their intentions to play two home games in London.
Under the new CBA, from 2020-2025, there will be a limitation of 10 games played in London per season, unless a team has been “displaced from its existing stadium from its existing stadium due to damage, other force majeure events, construction or renovation.”