After a seemingly endless parade of deadline extensions, the NFL’s owners have voted to approve the union’s final proposal, ratifying a six-year extension of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The league’s salary cap will remain in place, and is expected to be raised approximately $10 million above the current $94.5 million figure. Free agency will reportedly begin at 12:01 AM, Friday, March 10, 2006.
The owners have spent the last two days in Dallas, going back and forth on the NFLPA proposal, as well as the separate but equal issue of revenue sharing. In the end, the vote to approve the proposal was 30-2, with lower revenue teams the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals voting against. A 24-vote majority was required. At this time, there is no knowledge of what, if any, revenue-sharing issues were addressed in the new CBA. However, based on quotes from both low- and high-revenue owners such as Indianapolis' Jim Irsay and Washington's Daniel Snyder, it appears that some provisions have been put in place.
NFLPA head Gene Upshaw, on a plane to Hawaii for the annual Players’ Association meetings when the vote came down, had the following statement released in his name:
On behalf of the players, the NFLPA staff and the negotiating team, we are pleased that this process has finally concluded with an agreement. This agreement is not about one side winning or losing. Ultimately, it is about what is best for the players, the owners and the fans of the National Football League.
This agreement will take the NFL through the 2012 season, and will reinforce the incredibly valuable perception that the NFL has the most competitive balance of any major sport – a crucial element of the league’s ever-accelerating popularity. Without it, 2007 would have been an uncapped year. Without it, 2008 could have led to antitrust issues, questions about the legality of the draft, the de-certification of the union and an almost sure lockout. Without it, anarchy was a certainty.