NFL Players Association board of player representatives votes to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith

The NFL Players Association board of player representatives voted to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith for another term in a close vote Friday evening.

In a conference call that included the player reps from all 32 NFL teams, Smith received 22 votes in favor of him staying as executive director, just clearing the two-thirds threshold necessary to prevent him from having to run against other candidates in an open election next March. Eight of the player reps voted to remove Smith and two abstained, according to a source.

Friday's vote became necessary after the union's 14-member executive council voted Wednesday on the same issue and split 7-7. Per the NFLPA's constitution, Smith needed a unanimous vote from the executive council to avoid being subjected to the vote Friday by the board of player reps.

In a statement, the NFLPA said that this will be Smith's final term as union executive director and that the NFLPA leadership will work to identify and train his successor.

"He was transparent with us about his interest in moving on after this term and for the stability and security of our union, he will work with our player leadership to ensure we have a succession plan in place for the next leader," the statement said.

The next step is for Smith, who has held the job since March of 2009 and negotiated the last two collective bargaining agreements with the league, to negotiate a new contract with the NFLPA.

The executive council had long been a bastion of support for Smith, but some members -- most notably Buccaneers cornerback Richard Sherman -- expressed vocal opposition to the CBA that was ratified in 2020 and wanted to move on from Smith because they disagreed with the way he handled it. Players ratified the current CBA on March 8, 2020 in an extremely close vote. It runs through 2030.