Despite Coronavirus, NFL Moves Forward With New CBA, Free Agency

The coronavirus pandemic can’t break the NFL. The novel virus has canceled, suspended or delayed leagues worldwide.

The NFL, however, officially kicks off its 2020 campaign on March 18—the exact date that free agency begins.

Additionally, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has been approved through the 2030 season, according to a statement issued by the players association.

NFL Moving Forward With Free Agency

The NFL sent memos to all teams. The memos informed them that the start of the 2020 NFL season, which kicks off with free agency negotiations, is scheduled to begin on time. Yes, even despite coronavirus concerns. This is according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Previously, the NFL had been seriously contemplating delaying the launch of free agency. This is because many teams, agents and players would be traveling across the country for meetings and consultations.

However, free agency does not involve the public or fans and takes place in private settings with minimal participants. Therefore, the NFL felt it could continue as scheduled.

The league also concluded that pushing the start of free agency back at least two weeks wouldn’t make much difference, especially if the spread of coronavirus escalates.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Details

According to, “NFL players have voted to approve ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement by a vote tally of 1,019 to 959. This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution.”

Key changes in the new CBA deal include the following:

  • The addition of two more teams to the playoff field for 2020 season
  • The option to increase the regular season to 17 games starting in 2021
  • An increase in minimum salaries, performance-based pay and player revenue
  • Retired players will see an increase in benefits and a boost to pensions
  • Teams will only be able to use one franchise or transition tag this offseason
  • Game-day rosters will be increased from 46 players to 48
  • No more suspensions for positive marijuana tests

Despite the positive changes for players, some current athletes such as Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, and Russell Wilson voted against the new deal. They cited dissatisfaction with the amount of compensation provided for the additional regular-season game starting in 2021.

Salary Cap Increased by $10 Million

In addition to the new CBA agreement, the NFL has increased each teams’ salary cap to $198.2 million, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. This raises the salary cap — for the seventh year in a row.

Per NFL Insider for ESPN Field Yates via Twitter:

  • 2014: $133.0M
  • 2015: $143.3M
  • 2016: $155.3M
  • 2017: $167.0M
  • 2018: 177.3M
  • 2019: $188.2M
  • 2020: $198.2M