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NFL owners OK labor deal; players on the clock

The union has a conference call scheduled for Friday. The current deal expires in March 2021.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, and his son Stephen Jones, the team's executive vice president, leave after NFL owners meet to discuss a proposed labor agreement, Thursday Feb. 20, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) [BEBETO MATTHEWS | AP]

NEW YORK — NFL owners voted to accept the negotiated terms for a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday.

Now the onus is on the players, who had a conference call scheduled Friday.

With the league eager to reach an agreement with the players in the next few weeks — the current deal runs out in March 2021 — team representatives were summoned to New York to discuss the NFL’s proposal.

Among the items in that proposal, the Associated Press reported:

• A 17-game schedule, which always has been a stumbling block in talks with the Players Association. More roster spots per team would be a must for the players.

• A reduction of the preseason.

• A higher share of revenue for the players; the current number is 47 percent.

• An expansion of the playoffs, something the NFL has been seeking for years.

Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested in 2015 that increasing the postseason field to seven teams in each conference was in the works. The owners could unilaterally add a wild-card team in the AFC and the NFC but are willing to make such a move part of a new labor deal.

Also being considered is a second bye week to go with a 17th game, though almost certainly not for the 2020 season. Expansion of the playoffs easily could occur this year, however.

The current collective bargaining agreement was reached in 2011 after a 4½-month lockout of the players. Agreeing to a new one before the league’s business year begins March 18 could lead to several provisions being activated for the 2020 season.

A 17th game would preferably be played at neutral sites, which could include non-NFL U.S. venues as well as Europe, Mexico and Brazil, the Associated Press reported.