The NFL moved closer to labor peace for another decade early Wednesday, when player representatives voted to send a new deal already approved by the owners that includes a 17-game season to the full union membership.
A simple majority of some 2,000 players must accept the agreement for it to go into effect this year.
After nearly four hours of meetings between player reps and members of the NFL's negotiating committee Tuesday in Indianapolis, the 32 team reps spent several more hours discussing the deal. They then gave the nod for all NFL Players Association members to make the final decision.
The vote to send the proposal to the membership was close, 17-14 with one abstention.
The NFLPA announced the move on its Twitter account after 1 a.m. ET Wednesday.
There was no immediate word of when that vote would occur, though it likely will be weeks, as the union attorneys will now go to work on a term sheet on the deal.
Sources told ESPN's Dan Graziano that attorneys from the NFL and NFLPA plan to meet Wednesday to discuss how the offseason will be administered with the player vote on the collective bargaining agreement pending.
The new CBA calls for a 17-game regular season, which is expected to begin in 2021; more roster spots; a shortened preseason; a higher percentage of revenue for players; and upgraded pensions for former players. The owners also agreed to eliminate the $250,000 cap on earnings for players when they get the extra game check for the 17-game season.
The owners approved the new CBA last Thursday, though not unanimously.
It seems certain that the players will accept the deal or else their leadership would not likely have made this move.
The NFLPA's executive committee voted 6-5 against the contract on Friday. The 32 player reps postponed any action while seeking a meeting with the league, which occurred Tuesday in Indianapolis.
Similar to last week's meeting, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a force in Tuesday's talks, sources told ESPN's Brooke Pryor. Some players entered the meeting with the feeling there was more negotiating to be done on the offseason program, but they were disappointed when they were told there would be no additional negotiations on the topic.
The current CBA expires in March 2021, but the owners are eager to get a new contract in place as soon as possible. That would enable them to begin looking toward new, lucrative broadcast deals with a decade of labor peace assured.
The players didn't appear to be in a rush to approve the new agreement, which is the result of 10 months of negotiations between the sides. Indeed, last Friday night, several player reps were adamant that more negotiating is needed.
The diciest topic has been the 17-game schedule. Players have been firm and loud in opposition for years, dating to before the 2011 lockout that ended with an agreement on the current labor deal. Mainly, the players have been citing safety reasons for not extending the regular season.
Owners have offered, among other things, two more roster spots, which some players believe isn't enough, and a reduction of the preseason from four games to three. Players also would have significantly fewer requirements in the offseason and training camp.
This agreement, which would run through the 2030 season, includes a boost in payment of overall revenues to the players. The amounts depend on whether the season is 16 or 17 games.
Expansion of the playoffs by one team in each conference is not a bargaining issue, but the owners would prefer player approval of a new CBA before instituting it. Still, that could occur for the upcoming season; the NFL has discussed a 14-team postseason field for years, and as far back as 2014, commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of it happening.
Other items in the deal the owners approved include:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.