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NFL players want more labor talks

Player representatives, including the Bucs’ Sam Acho, don’t vote on the owners’ proposed new deal. They want meetings at next week’s scouting combine.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99), during the first half of a game against the Chiefs on Jan. 12, 2020, took to Twitter to give his view of the owners' labor proposal: "A hard no." (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann) [REED HOFFMANN | AP]

NEW YORK — NFL player representatives decided Friday to not vote on a new labor deal approved by owners, and the union instead will meet with league negotiators at the scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Earlier Friday, the union’s executive committee voted 6-5 to recommend rejecting the terms of the collective bargaining agreement the owners approved Thursday. Bucs linebacker Sam Acho is among the active players on the committee. No details of the vote were available.

The vote result was curious, given that the executive committee members participated in the process by which DeMaurice Smith, the union’s executive director, and other union leaders negotiated the proposed labor deal with representatives of the owners and league.

Initially, the league hoped the players would rapidly match their acceptance of the negotiated terms. The 32 player representatives and full union membership could vote next week.

Among the player reactions that emerged after the owners-approved terms were released Thursday was this from Texans defensive end JJ Watt on Twitter: “Hard no on that proposed CBA.”

Objections to an expanded regular season are considered the main stumbling block for player approval.

“Our player leadership looks forward to meeting with NFL management again next week before the board take a vote shortly after,” the union said in a statement.

If the union does not approve the terms, the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires in March 2021, would remain in effect and further talks would be required.

The owners’ proposal features a 17-game season, a shorter preseason, larger rosters and limits on the number of international games.

The union’s executive committee also includes union president Eric Winston, former Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich and former Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, all retired; and current players Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie; 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman; Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson; Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri; Chargers tackle Russell Okung; Saints punter Thomas Morstead; and Giants safety Mike Thomas.

The terms of the proposed new deal, which would run through 2030, also include increases in minimum salaries, changes in practice-squad makeup and eligibility, and reduced offseason and preseason requirements, the Associated Press reported.

Information from Times news services was used in this report.

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