According to Jason La Canfora, there’s growing support for a new 17-game regular-season schedule as a part of the new CBA the NFL and NFLPA are negotiating.
A 17-game season has been discussed for months but La Canfora says the NFL plans to present a formal proposal in January as negotiations heat up. La Canfora adds a new CBA could be agreed to by the Super Bowl.
Per La Canfora, the proposal for a 17-game regular season includes:
- Week 1 still beginning after Labor Day with the Super Bowl moved to the final Sunday of February.
- Expanded playoffs with one additional wildcard game in each conference.
- Two bye weeks for each team, expanded rosters and lowering the accrued seasons threshold for players to qualify for NFL pensions.
- A reduction of the preseason to two games, with the possibility of each team holding a free or low-cost scrimmage with another team that’s held in an NFL stadium and officiated by NFL referees to also grow the game.
- The 17th game for each team played out of market, with a heavy emphasis on the United Kingdom, particularly London and Ireland, Germany, Mexico and Brazil. It would also allow for a potential full eight-game slate in London which fans could buy “season tickets” for.
- La Canfora says the NFL would also be open to playing those neutral site games in markets in the U.S. that don’t have a team, like at Notre Dame or Alabama.
- The 17th game would also open up unique broadcast packages, including for streaming deals.
The major sticking point, as always, during negotiations is expected to be the share of the revenue divided between the NFL and the players, with the players expected to push for a significantly larger slice of the pie, particularly if the NFL wants to expand the season.
The current CBA is set to expire following the 2020 season. The NFL and NFLPA have had regular meetings since April and the tenor around negotiations is much different than the last CBA talks in 2011 when the owners locked out the players.
The owners also have a March 2020 deadline to agree to a new CBA before specific contract and salary cap rules kick in, including the lack of June 1 release designations and the ability of teams to use both the franchise and transition tags to keep players off the free-agent market.
Some issues expected to come up are an 18-game regular season or expanded 14-team playoffs, a reduced preseason, changes to the NFL’s marijuana policy and potentially limiting commissioner Roger Goodell‘s authority in player discipline.
The two sides have also reached tentative agreements on a number of issues including benefits, raising minimum salaries, former player healthcare, workplace rules and how grievances are handled.
We’ll have more regarding CBA negotiations as the news is available.