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NFLPA: Players to vote on collective bargaining agreement proposal that includes 17-game schedule

Charles Robinson
NFL columnist

INDIANAPOLIS — There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for NFL team owners and the league’s players union, representing a potential final vote in the coming days on whether the two sides will share another decade of labor peace.

The NFL Players Association’s board of player representatives voted to send the owners’ collective bargaining agreement proposal to its membership for a vote, union assistant executive of external affairs George Atallah said via Twitter early Wednesday morning.

After meeting at the NFL scouting combine late into Tuesday night, sources told Yahoo Sports that a negotiating committee for the league’s team owners had fruitful meetings with representatives from the players union. While sources didn’t reveal any changes made to a CBA approved by owners last week, it appears the union felt enough progress was made from that deal to advance it to a vote.

The union had plans to advance the CBA to its player representatives for a vote following the meeting, before then advancing the deal to the entire membership for a league-wide ratification ballot.

Despite pessimism on social media from some highly visible players like the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt and the San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman, several league executives expressed optimism to Yahoo Sports that the two sides could smooth out any remaining problems in Tuesday’s meeting. Sources familiar with talks among the union’s player representatives told Yahoo Sports the two primary problems with the CBA as approved by team owners was some outright opposition to adding a 17th game to the regular season. Others believed the union hadn’t gotten enough in return for that expansion of the season.

Apparently some of those concerns were quelled during talks this week — or at least satisfied to the point of moving a union vote forward.

The broad strokes of the deal approved by NFL owners last week offered significant financial windfalls for both sides, including the lucrative 17th regular-season game for the league and an overall revenue split that would bump up to 48.5 percent for players. Based on some of the revenue models shared with Yahoo Sports, the CBA could ultimately double the current $200 million salary cap inside the next 10 years if the league’s revenue advances by 6 percent or more per year. More conservative models suggested the cap would take more measured strides, but almost all of the scenarios featured a significant addition of cap space during the course of the deal.

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