Although it was not nearly as publicly contentious as, frankly, most other negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA toward Collective Bargaining Agreement deals in the past, the latest round of talks did go down to the wire this year, with the league even moving the wire back a couple days to assure that they could get something done in time.
While the CBA was signed, sealed, and delivered, however, that does not mean everything is a done deal. By no means am I employing that the agreement is going to be ripped up anytime soon and lead to labor strife. But sections of the contract can be revisited.
New Players Association president J.C. Tretter, the center for the Cleveland Browns, is calling for a revisitation on one section in the CBA that applies to coverage for disabilities for former players. Improving the benefits of retired players was one of the emphases of the deal this time around.
Evidently, the wording that was in the proposed CBA when the players voted to approve it—by an incredibly narrow margin, as you might recall—was changed in the final written document that is now on record. And the union leader wants to revisit the changes in this wording to assure that it doesn’t open the door for any alterations to the expectations of what it ought to provide.
An attorney who represents a number of retired players who may be affected by the change contacted the union asking why the clause on disability payments was changed in wording only after players had approved the CBA. The union maintains that while there was a language change, it “was not substantive”.
Without comparing the two documents side by side, of course, it’s impossible to weigh in here. It remains to be seen whether a meeting will actually be scheduled in order to address the issue at hand and whether the wording reflects a material alteration in expected benefits or not.
For what it’s worth, any revisitation of the CBA would be grounded only and solely in this one clause, and would not affect or jeopardize anything else that had been agreed to. That should be implied, but I suppose it’s worth saying for the sake of clarity and thoroughness. So there is no reason to be alarmed over the idea of some level of talks resuming over the CBA.
For a quick reminder, the new deal is already in place and active, and runs through the 2021 season, an 11-year agreement in effect. Among other things, it expands the postseason by adding a seventh seed to either conference and eliminates the bye week for two-seeds. It also gives the league leeway to extend the regular season to 17 games, an expansion from the 16-game schedule that has been played since the mid-70s.