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Player reps not voting on NFL labor deal; more talks Tuesday

NEW YORK, N.Y. – NFL owners' eagerness to approve negotiated terms of a new labor agreement apparently is not matched by the players.

They want more talks.

Union player representatives decided Friday to not vote on the new labor deal approved by team owners Thursday. The NFL Players Association 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 new collective bargaining agreement. But the player reps and the full union membership could vote next week.

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

“Today the NFLPA Board of Players Representatives did not take a vote on the principal terms of a proposed new collective bargaining agreement,” the union said in a statement. “Our player leadership looks forward to meeting with NFL management again next week before the board takes a vote shortly after.”

If the NFLPA does not approve the terms, the current CBA that expires in March 2021 would remain in effect and further talks would be required.

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

The union's executive committee includes NFLPA President Eric Winston, former Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich and former Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, all retired; 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; Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho; and Giants safety Mike Thomas.

Several people familiar with the terms say they feature increases in minimum salaries, changes in practice squad makeup and eligibility, and reduced offseason and preseason requirements as pivotal parts of the deal.

Those people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because specific details of the provisions in the agreement that would run through 2030 are not being made public.

An expansion of the playoffs to seven teams in each conference, with only the top seed in the AFC and NFC getting a wild-card bye, can be instituted by the league without any negotiations — as long as the postseason remains in a four-week format. Several owners are strongly in favor of doing so regardless of the CBA status.

One of the wild-card weekend games might wind up as a Monday night contest.

The 17-game schedule actually is a compromise offer for some owners who wanted 18 games. Adding the one regular-season match would seem to indicate each of those games would be at a neutral site.

But the league has promised the union to cap the number of international games and that there would not be a full week of such contests. More likely is a continued mix of games in England (and other European sites) and Mexico. Most team schedules will have nine home games and eight road games in alternating years.

The preseason would be reduced from four games to three, not counting the Hall of Fame game that starts the exhibition schedule.

Training camp padded practices would be reduced from a total of 28 to 16. A five-day acclimation period would precede summer practices. There would be more days off during camp — eight instead of five — and a limit on joint practices.

There would be no extra bye week in the regular season, something that had been discussed. However, teams would basically have two weeks to prepare for the season opener with the elimination of the fourth preseason game.

Rosters would expand from 53 to 55, with 48 players able to dress for games rather than the current 46. Practice squads would go from 10 players to 12 and eventually to 14, probably by 2022. There would be more flexibility for protecting practice squaders from becoming free agents.

Suspensions for a positive test for marijuana likely would end, except for cases of tampering with a test. But doctors appointed by the league and union would have the ability to recommend players sit if they are not under treatment or are at risk if they suit up.

A major point of contention when the current agreement was reached in 2011 following a 4 1/2 month lockout was Commissioner Roger Goodell's role in discipline. Should these terms be accepted by the players, a neutral, jointly appointed hearing officer would make findings on off-field issues and whether the actions violated the league's personal conduct policy. Those findings would be binding, but a player could appeal — with Goodell making the final decision.

The terms contain substantial changes in a variety of fines for violating club rules to provide a scaled pricing discipline system. A maximum fine could not be rendered until a third violation.

Significant boosts in pension for retired players and active ones also are provided in the contract. There are provisions for bringing in players who are not getting pensions, too.

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