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NFL owners approve new CBA, await players

After months of negotiating, representatives for the NFL owners and players union appear to have an agreement in place for a new collective bargaining agreement, with a vote by the players on ratification apparently the only hurdle remaining for the new CBA to be approved.

The NFL on Thursday afternoon released a statement indicating that the owners have approved the terms of the proposed CBA, agreed to by negotiators for the NFL and NFLPA.

According to multiple reports, players and their representatives will hold a conference call Friday to discuss the agreed-to terms. The call could result in a vote on approval among the 32 player representatives, according to the reports. According to NFL.com's Tom Pelissero, if a two-thirds majority approves, the proposal would then go to all of the players for a final vote. Per Pelissero, only a simple majority would be required at that vote.

"The membership voted today to accept the negotiated terms on the principal elements of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement," read the owners' statement, released following a meeting of all 32 owners in New York. "The Players Association would also need to vote to approve the same terms for there to be a new agreement.

"Since the clubs and players need to have a system in place and know the rules that they will operate under by next week, the membership also approved moving forward under the final year of the 2011 CBA if the players decide not to approve the negotiated terms. Out of respect for the process and our partners at the NFLPA, we will have no further comment at this time."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the vote among owners was not unanimous. Three-fourths of the owners had to approve for the CBA to be ratified.

According to reports Wednesday, both sides agreed to expand the playoffs to seven teams from each conference, up from six, and to give only one team from each conference a bye in the wild-card round, down from two teams.

The biggest question remaining is the potential addition of a 17th regular-season game. According to multiple reports, the proposed CBA allows the league the option to expand the regular season to 17 games at some point in the next four seasons, but no sooner than 2021.

According to the reports, the proposed changes also include increasing the players' share of total revenue, relaxing offseason workout rules, bumping up the performance-bonus pool, and limiting teams to using only one of the franchise or transition tag on impending free agents each offseason (currently, each team can use both each offseason).

The current CBA was ratified in 2011 and is set to expire following the 2020 season. If approved by the players, the new CBA could reportedly go into effect in time for the new league year, which begins March 18.