Representatives for National Football League players approved a 10-year labor agreement, ending a four-month shutdown and allowing the U.S.’s richest and most-popular sports league to reopen for business.
NFL Players Association leadership voted unanimously to recommend that players accept the deal and re-establish their union, according to DeMaurice Smith, the group’s executive director.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters outside the association’s Washington headquarters.
“Football is back,”
Teams can begin signing drafted and undrafted first-year players tomorrow; negotiating with, but not signing, other players; and making trades. As of July 29, teams can begin signing free agents and training camps may open 15 days before each team’s first preseason game.
Owners last week approved by a 31-0 vote the decade-long deal that caps team payrolls at about $120 million this season, with players receiving another $22 million or so in benefits. The players must receive at least 47 percent of the league’s revenue, projected at a record $9.3 billion in 2011, throughout the 10 years.
The agreement also limits how much teams can spend on first-year players, allows current players to stay in the league’s medical plan for life and allows them more days off, with fewer offseason practices. The deal also provides between $900 million and $1 billion for retiree benefits.