The NFL Players Association will be under new leadership within three years.
The process is underway to find a successor for longtime executive director DeMaurice Smith, who informed players before his latest re-election last October that this would be his final term.
And while the length of that term wasn't specified at the time -- a measure approved the same day said it could be as little as one year -- sources say the transition will take place no later than 2025, with Smith's new contract allowing some flexibility based on when a successor is elected.
It's possible and even likely that Smith's term could end sooner than that, and Smith could move into an onboarding and consulting role sometime in the next couple years to smooth the transition. But the search process is currently in its infancy, with a firm hired by the NFLPA's selection committee still gathering information on what it should be looking for.
A trial lawyer who previously worked with the U.S. Attorney's Office and Department of Justice, Smith has served as the NFLPA's executive director since March 2009 following the death of Gene Upshaw the previous year. Smith, 58, has presided over negotiations on two collective bargaining agreements -- in 2011 after a four-month lockout, and in 2020 without a work stoppage. The 2020 CBA was finalized just as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world that March, and Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell worked closely into a season in which, remarkably, every game was played and every player paid in full.
The 2020 CBA runs through March 2031, giving Smith's successor significant time on the job before the next major labor deal.
Under the NFLPA's constitution, a selection committee including president JC Tretter, the 10 other current and former players on the executive committee and three team representatives with the most years of service is tasked with identifying two to four candidates whom the committee will recommend for the job. A candidate must win the job by a majority vote of the board of 32 team representatives.
Smith retained the job last October by receiving the minimum 22 votes. Eight voted against him and two abstained.