The NFL’s owners and players finalized the remaining details of the collective bargaining agreement late Wednesday night, clearing the way — finally — to a decade-long labor peace while simultaneously doing something unprecedented in recent NFL history.

It’s expected that player reps from each respective team will brief the players on the new agreement. Then the general membership will vote and the results will be faxed to the NFLPA. If the players get over 50 percent, it passes, and teams would be on the practice field by 4 p.m. ET, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told me.

And it will pass. That’s almost guaranteed.

A league source said teams received an email from the NFL saying the league year will begin at 4 p.m. ET (at the latest) on Thursday and, the source said, teams must be under the salary cap by that time.

This could lead to a bit of a scramble for some teams, as sources said a handful were over the cap as of Wednesday.

There are many interesting facets to the new CBA, I’m told, but none is more interesting than this: The final agreement calls for major restrictions on the limits to commissioner power regarding on-field punishment. This is one of the more controversial aspects of the deal.

Though details as of late Wednesday were still unclear, it appears the league will use jointly hired appeals officers.

If Roger Goodell fines, say, Pittsburgh’s James Harrison for a hit, Harrison will be able to appeal to these officers, the person said. It’s unclear how the commissioner’s powers for off-field punishment were affected. It’s also uncertain who these appeals officers will be.

In the past, Goodell was judge and jury and appeals went through him. This fact has irritated the players, since many of them view Goodell as overly punitive.

In the end, what matters most is the long lockout NFL nightmare is almost officially over. Since the player vote is the CBA equivalent of a rubber stamp, it’s a done deal.

Enjoy your 10 years of labor peace.


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