INDIANAPOLIS — The tweets started Wednesday morning in response to the NFL Players Association middle-of-the-night announcement that it would send the league’s proposed collective bargaining agreement to its full membership for a vote.
The proposed CBA would bring labor peace — and major changes — for the next 10 years. The league would add one regular-season game, bringing the total to 17, starting in 2021. Playoff teams would increase from six teams per conference to seven.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wrote that the NBA and Major League Baseball have stronger unions before ending in all caps: “I VOTE NO.”
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey posted an expletive-ridden video in which he, while driving down the street shirtless, bashed the proposal.
Chase Daniel, a Bears quarterback for at least another three weeks, encouraged players to call him for clarification, and refuted a report he said impugned former Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho.
Even Bears receiver Allen Robinson weighed in.
“Get the franchise tag out the new CBA,” he wrote.
That’s particularly relevant to Robinson. The Bears have spoken to Robinson, who is entering the final year of his contract, about an extension.
“He’s a guy we’d like to have a Bear for a long time,” general manager Ryan Pace said Tuesday.
If they can’t get an extension done, though, they always could keep Robinson in 2021 by giving him the tag.
Despite some prominent voices speaking out about the proposal, it still is expected to pass when it comes to a vote of about 2,000 members. NFLPA president Eric Winston told reporters Wednesday that the union had not set a time to vote and would not rush. It figures to take place before the start of the league year March 18.
Get the franchise tag out the new CBA— Allen Robinson II (@AllenRobinson) February 26, 2020
Until then, league business will continue. Teams can begin handing out franchise tags Thursday, though the Bears, who have no obvious candidates, will abstain.
A new CBA would increase the salary cap for 2020 — welcome news for the Bears, who have $26 million in space.
Ostensibly in exchange for the new schedule, the players would receive a larger cut of revenue, up from 47 to 48.5 percent once the 17-game slate begins. Minimum-salaried players will receive considerable pay raises. One reason a vote of the full membership is likely to approve the CBA is because of the sheer numbers of minimum-salaried players who figure to be in favor of such a bump.
The union’s concerns during a 10-month negotiation period centered around the 17-game schedule, which it felt was antithetical to ownership claims that they cared about player safety.
Owners approved the CBA last Thursday. The union met to discuss the same Friday, but decided to meet with some owners Tuesday in Indianapolis instead. After that meeting, which lasted about hours, the NFLPA briefed its Board of Player Representatives, including Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who voted to send the proposed CBA to the full membership for ratification.
Rodgers tweeted that he voted no “based on the conversations I have had with the men in my locker room that I’m tasked to represent.” He disagreed with the new schedule — “16 games, to me, was never something to be negotiated,” he said — and lobbied for more offseason recovery time.
“The value of our players and the strength of the NFLPA can only be realized if we ourselves know and believe in our worth,” he wrote.