The NFL’s annual salary cap will increase by $1.4 billion, bringing the total number of contracts in the league’s cap to $1,847 billion, according to the Associated Press.
The $1 billion increase in cap space will not apply to teams that have not yet been announced as part of the league office’s annual release of its salary cap figures.
However, the increase will allow teams to use the new cap space to acquire and retain players in the offseason, a major change for a league that has seen teams lock up players in large deals only after the season is done.
The $1bn increase is for the first time in the history of the NFL.
Before this year, it was used for salaries of all players over $100,000, which are exempt from the cap.
As the Associated News noted in its report, there are currently 23 teams with more than $100 million in salary cap space, including the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and San Diego Chargers.
It was not immediately clear if the Chargers and Jets would be eligible for the $1b increase.
The NFLPA, which represents the players, said in a statement to the AP that the new contract is a “fair and equitable” deal for all players and that the union is “committed to working with owners to improve player safety and player welfare.”
The NFLPA has been outspoken about safety concerns for decades, particularly regarding concussions and brain injuries.
The players union, which also includes the National Football League Players Association, also announced last month that it is calling for a full review of the long-term future of the players union.
In the past, the NFL has been more lenient in protecting players from long-range brain injuries and concussions than the NFLPA is.
For example, last season, the league allowed players to stay on the field for a year following a season of no contact after being diagnosed with dementia.
Despite the increase, there has been a marked increase in the number of concussions reported in the NFL, according a 2015 study by the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
The foundation found that in the 2016 season, 3,848 players had been diagnosed with head injuries or concussions.
That was more than triple the number in 2015.
“The league has always taken the issue of concussion very seriously and has taken the necessary steps to protect our players,” NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith said in the statement.
“But we are encouraged by the progress the NFL is making, and we look forward to working collaboratively with owners and the players on how best to ensure that our players are safe in the future.”