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What are some major changes a new CBA could bring to the NFL?

NFL: NFL Draft Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

With NFL teams like the Seattle Seahawks in the middle of their OTAs, the 2019 NFL Draft now nearly a month in the past and the frenzy of free agency long since forgotten, the news cycle for the NFL is entering the slowest portion of the year. However, that does not mean that NFL news will be completely going away over the next couple of months, as there will certainly be reports of various new injuries suffered by players, as well as updates on how players who suffered serious injuries during the 2018 season are progressing.

And, of course, there will be the annual parade of reports on players all across the league who are coming to training camp in the best shape of their life. However, one important topic that has already started to see progress well in advance of the dangerous deadlines looming on the horizon is the end of the current CBA following the 2020 season. As NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported earlier this week, there have been talks between the NFL and the NFLPA, and while it’s obviously early in the process, positive reports are good to hear.

That said, many of the things that we as fans take for granted, including the rookie wage scale, and salary cap rollover were material changes made in the last round of CBA negotiations. With that in mind, what kind of significant changes could we see this time around?

There is no doubt that minimum salaries will be given a significant bump up from where they currently stand, as the growth of the salary cap has far outpaced the growth for minimum salaries. The minimum salary for rookies has increased 32 percent since 2011, while the salary cap has increased 56%, while at the top end salaries for veterans with ten or more years of experience have increased barely twelve percent over that same time frame.

In addition, while teams obviously like the ability to roll cap space over, it takes money from the players on the roster in a given season and pushes it forward to players in the future season. As such, I don’t necessarily expect, but would not be surprised to see, some kind of modification in the way cap space is handled. Whether that would be to roll a portion of the space over while distributing the remainder to the players who were on a roster in a given season, or some other variant.

Many of the others are subjects we discussed in the comments of the article from earlier in the week regarding Pete Carroll’s proposal to get rid of instant replay, including roster expansion, practice squad expansion, the formation of a developmental league, the removal of marijuana from the list of the league’s banned substances and others.

What systemic and structural changes would you most like to see in the next CBA? Better automatic injury protections? More guarantees in contracts? Cap adjustments for players on IR? More detailed injury reporting from teams? (Not rules changes like replay or changes to pass interference, as those are operational and not covered under the CBA.)