‘A pretty good deal:’ Falcons rep Josh Harris educating team on proposed CBA

Falcons long snapper Josh Harris.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Falcons long snapper Josh Harris.

Falcons NFLPA player representative Josh Harris, the team’s long snapper, has been fielding questions from teammates about the proposed collective bargaining agreement.

The ballots went out last Thursday and the voting was to remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. On Monday, the NFLPA board of player representatives extended the voting to 11:59 p.m., Saturday.

“I would like to think that it passes, but it’s open for a vote,” Harris told The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution. “There is always a chance that it doesn’t. What I’ve tried to do is educate the guys in the locker room and answer as many questions, just try to tell them, I don’t care which way that they vote. I just want everybody to make informed decisions and understand what it is that they are voting on.”

The NFL owners approved the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement on Feb. 20. If approved, the deal would extend through the 2030 season. The NFLPA board of representatives voted to send the proposal to the membership for a vote.  The document, essentially a contract between the league and the union, is 456 pages long.

Some high profile players like Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson have come out against the proposed deal. San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman was not pleased about the league wanting a 17 game schedule, while still discussing player safety.

Players have taken to social media to support and trash the deal. Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went to Harvard, posted a video on Twitter supporting the deal.

“There are good things in it,” Harris said. “There are bad things in it and there is everything in between. The same can be said for any business deal. I just want guys to understand what they are voting on and to make a decision for themselves. Not (based) on what they hear someone else say or somebody else’s idea. I’d like for them to be able to formulate their own opinion and vote the way they see fit.”

Harris has heard from several players.

“The feedback that I’ve gotten (has been) very positive,” Harris said. “It’s important to remember that this league is made up, predominantly of younger, minimum-contract guys and this deal significantly increases the pay, the benefits and the working conditions for the majority of the current players, some former player and future players as well.

“The guys that I’ve talked to and the guys that have asked me questions, have all seemed to be on board with it.”

Harris is in his first season as the Falcons player representative. He took over from kicker Matt Bryant. The assistant player rep is Matt Bosher.

“I had to learn from Matt Bryant for a few years and kind of understand the business side of the game,” Harris said. “It’s been really interesting to sit in on these meetings and hear all of the different sides of it. The pros and cons and really try to understand where the league is at and what direction we’re headed. Whether if that is with a yes vote or a no vote.”

Harris was in Miami for the players rep meeting during the Super Bowl. There was also a meeting in Los Angeles and one in Indianapolis during the scouting combine.

One of the key sticking points for the players is a 17th game being added to the schedule.

“At the end of the day, 17 games is a lot,” Harris said. “There is no way around that. What we are getting in return for those 17 games is what is important to understand. That’s what I want guys to see and guys to learn, guys to read about so that they understand exactly what it is that we are voting on.”

The players also want a cut of the money if the league is able to negotiate potentially lucrative television and live-streaming contracts over the course of the new agreement.

“That’s what the media kickers are in place for,” Harris said. “Frankly, if there is no labor agreement in place when those TV deals go to get negotiated. I’d be hard-pressed to say that the money on the table would be the same as it would be if there is a labor agreement in place.

“The landscape for the league, from a player’s perspective, and the agreement or the proposal would look a lot different if this one is turned down and negotiations would open back up next year. I think that’s an important thing to understand for a lot of the guys.”

With the NFL's new league year set to open March 18, many teams, including the Falcons, and player agents have been in a holding pattern with offseason business deals.

“We need guys to vote,” Harris said. “Whether if it’s a yes or a no. Our voice needs to be heard. It’s an interesting time. Hopefully, we can get his done. If you asked me, it is a pretty good deal. It is. Is it a perfect deal, no. But I’m hard-pressed to find such a thing as the perfect deal.”

Harris, who played at Auburn and is from West Carrollton, pointed out that a majority of the players are going to see significant pay increases, better post-playing benefits and improved working conditions.

“I think it’s a good deal and I’m hopeful that it will pass,” Harris said.

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