March 15 (UPI) -- NFL players narrowly approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the league's owners, ensuring labor peace through at least 2030 and setting up a 17-game regular season as early as 2021.
The vote to approve the proposed collective bargaining agreement was close, with the outcome being decided by a slim margin of 60 votes. Approval of the new CBA required a majority of the players voting.
"NFL players have voted to approve ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement by a vote tally of 1,019 to 959," the NFL Players Association said in a statement Sunday. "This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution."
"Our members have spoken and the CBA has been ratified," Tretter said in a statement. "We pick up a greater share of revenues, make significant gains to minimum salaries and increase our post-career benefits. For players past, this deal reaches back in an unprecedented way to increase pensions, benefits and make resources available to them.
"We understand that not all deals are perfect, and we don't take the gains we wanted, but couldn't get, lightly. We now must unite and move forward as a union. The interest and passion on the issues that our members have voiced in the past several weeks needs to continue. Our job is never done and we all must work together as one team to build for a better future."
The 10-day voting period, during which any NFL player who paid union dues in the last calendar year was eligible to vote, ended at 11:59 p.m. EDT Saturday. Before voting began, the NFLPA estimated that about 2,500 players were eligible to vote on the collective bargaining agreement.
The league's 32 owners voted last month to approve the new deal, leaving the players' approval as the final step for it to be ratified.
"We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
"We appreciate the tireless efforts of the members of the Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA leadership, both of whom devoted nearly a year to detailed, good faith negotiations to reach this comprehensive, transformative agreement."
The new collective bargaining agreement will clear the way for the NFL to expand its regular season from 16 games to 17 as early as 2021. Along with the extension of the regular season, the deal will expand the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 as soon as the upcoming season.
The agreed-upon deal also includes higher minimum salaries, improvements to benefits for current and former players, changes to the league's drug and discipline policies and expanded rosters and practice squads, all of which will go into effect in the 2020 season.