RENTON, Wash. — The NFL Players Association on Thursday formally set a vote for a new collective bargaining agreement after approving final language in the 456-page document.
And almost immediately, three prominent Seahawks — linebacker Bobby Wagner, receiver Tyler Lockett and safety Quandre Diggs — took to Twitter to voice their opposition.
The NFLPA set a deadline of March 12 for the association’s roughly 2000 members to vote, meaning the league could have labor peace through the 2030 season secured in less than eight days if the agreement is approved. The CBA needs approval by a simple majority.
If it’s not approved, the specter of an impending strike or lockout will loom over the 2020 season, the last in the current CBA, which officially runs through March 2021 with the league having said it will not negotiate further this year if the players vote no (the league wants to get the deal done quickly in part to begin negotiating new TV contracts as soon as it can).
Conventional wisdom has been that the CBA vote is likely to be approved.
But Lockett, Diggs and Wagner each made clear Thursday they hope it’s not.
Lockett quote tweeted simply “Vote No” above the NFLPA’s tweeted statement about the process while Diggs retweeted several tweets from other players against the proposal and tweeted that he “could care less about the marijuana policy” in a quote tweet of a Pro Football Talk story stating that in its view, no player would ever be suspended again for positive drug tests.
Wagner did not tweet directly about the CBA but retweeted Rams running back Todd Gurley tweeting “VOTE NO!!” Wagner was also reported by ESPN last week as having vocally challenged those on the NFLPA executive board who approved the document for a vote why they were voting yes.
Quarterback Russell Wilson previously tweeted on Feb. 26 “I VOTE NO” about the CBA. But he has not since tweeted or been quoted speaking about the completed CBA.
While the CBA includes hundreds of changes from the current agreement, the biggest issue in the new one is the league wanting to add a 17th game as soon as the 2021 season and two playoff games as soon as 2020 (each in the wild-card round, giving only the No. 1 seed a bye into the divisional round).
For requiring players to play another regular season game, the league will eliminate one preseason game and make other time and practice reductions in training camp and the offseason program and also give players up to 48.5% of the total revenue, up from the current 47%.
Players who are against it, though, have said they’d like a higher percentage of the revenue for being asked to play an extra regular season game and adding the two playoff games.
But some of those who are for the proposal have noted that players making the minimum wage will get an immediate $90,000 raise (as the LA Times notes, a player making the minimum $495,000 as first-year player in 2019 would make $675,000 as a second-year player in 2020) and that the minimum will rise to $1 million by the 2029 season.
That the gains could be significant and immediate for players at or near the minimum wage — which is roughly 60% of any roster — has led to the perception that the CBA debate among players is essentially a battle of the haves and the have-nots (relatively speaking by NFL pay standards, of course), a perception fueled by Nate Solder of the New York Giants saying the CBA is “a great deal for the core players.”
Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap,com wrote in an analysis of the CBA that in his view, from a “pure financial standpoint,” any player making $1.5 million a year or less can argue that it’s a good deal but that for any player who makes more than that “the other benefits need to make up for it.”
Lockett, Wagner and Diggs are each among the top nine highest-paid Seahawks for 2020, each with cap hits of $5 million or more. But of the 49 Seahawks players currently under contract, 31 are scheduled to make less than a $1 million in 2020, via OvertheCap.com.
The 31 on the lower end of the pay scale are also mostly those whose aren’t guaranteed to have long careers and may not be able to afford a strike, further leading to the idea that the CBA vote could be split between those at the top of the wage scale who want to get more from the NFL and those at the bottom who may be happy to take whatever improvement they can get now.
The answer will come soon.