As the vote on the NFL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement looms this weekend, it’s becoming increasingly evident that players are falling into one of two distinct camps: pro and con.
For the most part, many high-profile players like Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman, Aaron Rodgers, Stefon Diggs, Todd Gurley, Mike Pouncey, and Jarvis Landry have all said they don’t like the plan. As a result, their combined star power has led some to believe the majority of players will vote no.
Among several points, Rodgers — who serves as the Packers’ player rep — said the players haven’t gotten the necessary concessions from the owners to agree to a 17th regular-season game.
“The point that I was trying to make in that meeting and as we talked to the PA afterward was, ‘Tell me what I can go back and tell my veteran players. What are we getting in return for this 17th game?’” Rodgers said. “To me, it just wasn’t substantial enough to go back and tell those young players and older players, ‘Hey, look, this is what you’re going to be getting.’”
But that doesn’t mean all players feel negatively about the plan. Former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder was very open about his support for the plan, telling Peter King there’s a lot to like.
“Minimum salaries would go up significantly, with bumped-up benefits for current players and retired players,” Solder said. “We’d increase the practice squad [from 10 to 14 by 2022]. Work rules would improve.
“I don’t think it’s perfect, but we’re making incremental gains on player health and safety. Some players have fallen victim to the thought if we turn this down, we’ll get something better. We might, but we might not.”
That point was echoed by Drew Brees. In a recent conversation with Christopher L. Gasper, he said “it looks like on the surface it’s a pretty good deal for everybody.”
““It’s a big difference-maker if it does get passed for teams in regards to their flexibility in the cap for this year. I think everybody hopes that it does pass. I’m sure the devil is in the details, but it looks like on the surface it’s a pretty good deal for everybody.”
In addition, Ryan Fitzpatrick said he’d vote yes on the plan, saying he would “confidently” vote yes for a number of reasons, including increased minimum salaries, marijuana drug policy changes, increased roster spots, improved work conditions, less hitting in training camp, and increased benefits for current and former players. Many of those same points were endorsed by Lions’ rep Devon Kennard.
“Overall, this is a deal that is going to lead to NFL players getting paid more than we ever have in the past and I LOVE that,” he wrote. “With that in mind I voted YES and believe this deal should be acknowledged by all of my teammates and peers so we all have the opportunity to make this final decision together.”
Many player reps have sounded a cooperative note, encouraging players to read the proposal and ask questions as needed before the vote is taken. Jacksonville player rep Calais Campbell said now is the time for players to take a hard look at what was proposed, offer opinions, and engage in discussion. Bears player rep Chase Daniel said many of the same things, including the fact that the proposal that was being hammered out was the result of extensive conversations.
‘“I’m not going to be super outspoken. I’m going to encourage guys to vote and talk through it with them. Hopefully we get a great turnout across the league to vote, because it’s important.”’
Locally, it’s worth noting none of the Patriots on the current roster have taken to social media to weigh in on the proceedings, pro or con. At the same time, the New England player reps have been hitting many of the same notes. Alternate union rep Ted Karras told the Globe recently that he and the rest of the union representatives (the Patriots’ team rep Matthew Slater, while Karras, Devin McCourty, and Joe Cardona are alternate reps) have been reiterating the same message to teammates: Vote.
“The most important thing for me is just encourage guys to vote,” Karras said. “I’m not going to be super outspoken. I’m going to encourage guys to vote and talk through it with them. Hopefully we get a great turnout across the league to vote, because it’s important.”
So what’s the next step? The proposal -- which was approved 17-14-1 by the 32 player reps -- is in the hands of approximately 2,500 players. Originally, players had a voting deadline of 11:59 p.m. Thursday. That has been extended to 11:59 p.m. Saturday. If the deal is approved, the new CBA would be an 11-year deal, go into effect immediately, and run through the 2030 season.