Former NFL Player Reveals That Latest CBA Changed Pay Schedule

Though I don’t know if it was quite common knowledge, under the old NFL CBA, players were only paid during the season. If the year was over, they didn’t get checks. But former offensive lineman Justin Pugh revealed Saturday that the 2020 CBA changed that payout structure and players see a paycheck, albeit it a smaller one, far more often.

Pugh said the latest agreement between the NFL and NFLPA changed the pay period from 18 to 36 weeks.

As Pugh notes, figuring out players’ weekly game check is relatively easy. Divide their base salary by the numbers of weeks in a season and that was the check they got each week (after cutting that number roughly in half for taxes). Now, players are getting paid more regularly, which does reduce the size of each paycheck but makes it more consistent over the season. Pugh doesn’t specify exactly when that 36-week window begins and ends but it’s likely the only time a player isn’t getting paid is for four months during the deader time of the offseason.

It seems the reason for the change is in the hopes of making players more financially responsible. Those who don’t handle their money well would run out of it shortly after the season ended, having to wait until the start of the following regular season to see consistent paychecks again (it should be pointed out different bonuses can be paid in installments, meaning players have chances to get paid throughout the year). This was an issue during the 2010 lockout, causing the union to cave to the owners following pressure from players who were running out of money. It led to players reportedly taking out high-interest loans, up to 23%, until an agreement was reached and the season could resume.

The union tried to avoid this in 2020 by witholding players’ Madden Check – the money they receive for their likeness being used in the video game – but this is a more sustainable model.

But as Pugh notes, some players don’t like the new format. For those who handle their money better and want to consistently invest, having a smaller paycheck to do that impacts that. And at the risk of getting into all the financial considerations of millionaires, there’s probably other cons to the idea as well.

While it isn’t going to impact the course of games or something fans will care too much about, it’s a look into the life of an NFL player and how the league works.

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