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Deal nears for 2020 NFL season with union execs backing

Teams are planning a full 16-game schedule per club with fans able to attend games in some cities as allowed by governments,

The Vince Lombardi trophy.
The Vince Lombardi trophy.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

A DEAL TO finalise financial details for a coronavirus-hit 2020 NFL season moved closer to approval Friday when the players union’s leaders backed a measure hammered out with team owners.

With NFL training camps set to open Tuesday for most clubs, the NFL Players Association executive committee approved terms that would keep this year’s salary cap level and spread out the impact of any revenue drops from Covid-19 over a four-year span.

“The NFLPA executive committee voted unanimously to recommend the proposed changes to the CBA,” the union said in a statement.

Under the latest proposal discussed by the league and the NFLPA, this year’s salary cap approved in March would remain at $198.2 million as planned.

Next year’s salary cap, according to multiple reports on terms of the deal, would fall no lower than $175 million, a floor that eases worries about signing expensive deals for veteran players if pandemic season revenues are shattered without filled stadiums and related sales.

While the hit would be spread from 2021-2024, there is a chance the cap amount could rise significantly should new television contracts bring higher revenues that the current deals.

Trying to absorb all losses in a single season could produce a payroll hit of $70 million a team for 2021, which would play havoc on spending plans sorted out years in advance by teams who could not have figured on reduced revenue from a pandemic.

Teams are planning a full 16-game schedule per club with fans able to attend games in some cities as allowed by governments, stadiums using reduced capacities to keep fans socially distant with all spectators required to wear masks.

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NFL team owners raised the minimum 2021 cap level and dropped a pitch for a salary cap cut this year in the latest deal, according to the NFL Network.

In exchange, owners might not have to pay out full guaranteed salaries if a mid-season shutdown happens, paydays coming as games are played under the agreed model.

The deal will be sent to the union board of 32 player representatives, one per club, for a vote. If it passes, the financial terms will be set for the 2020 campaign and beyond.

Owners wanted a deal in place before weekend workouts began at team training facilities. Kansas City and Houston arrive early at camp because they meet in the scheduled September 10 season opener, three days ahead of most league clubs.

The deal reportedly also allows 20 days for players to improve their fitness before contact practices and a limit of 14 padded practices per team with no pre-season games, all in a bid for virus safety and to reduce the chance of injury for players whose preparations have been limited by coronavirus restrictions.

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AFP

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