NFL players voted to approve a new collective bargaining agreement this weekend, ushering in another decade of football with new structures in the regular and post seasons.
The new CBA narrowly passed with 1,019 players voting to approve it compared to 959 votes in opposition. The official count was split 51.5% to 48.5%.
"The result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution," NFLPA President JC Tretter said in a statement released on Twitter. "We understand that not all deals are perfect, and we don't take the gains we wanted, but couldn't get, lightly. We now must unite and move forward as a union."
The new CBA brings a wide range of changes with it, most noticeably in the regular and postseasons. Starting with the 2021 season, the NFL will only have three games in the preseason. This makes way for a 17th regular season game, which can be implemented as early as 2021.
Changes to the postseason will begin with the 2020 season. The playoff field will be expanded from 12 to 14 teams, giving each conference seven seeds. Each conference will only be allowed one bye week, which will be awarded to the No.1 seeds, meaning there will be a total of six Wild Card games.
The players will also see an increase in revenue. Under the new CBA, players will receive 48% of the league's revenue beginning in the 2021 season, compared to 47% under the previous agreement. That number will increase to 48.5% should the league decide to add a 17th game to the regular season.
Other changes include an increase in players on the active roster from 53 to 55, tougher suspensions on PEDs and DUIs and eliminating suspensions entirely for positive drug tests. Disciplinary cases will also be heard by an independent arbitrator instead of Commissioner Roger Goodell.
With a new deal in place, the new league year is set to begin with free agency on March 18 at 4 p.m. In the mean time, teams and players are allowed to participate in "legal tampering" for contract negotiations, which will begin at noon on Monday.