The NFL and the NFLPA have been in progressive talks about a new CBA since early spring. The 10-year agreement does not expire until after the 2020 season, but the NFL has been aggressive in getting a new agreement settled and done before opening kickoff next season.
Part of the recent talks have been about extending the regular season. There have been suggestions of an 18-game season with a shortened preseason to only two games. But so far, these were merely suggestions by numerous talking heads and nothing more.
However, in recent CBA talks, the NFL owners have laid out a new proposal to the NFLPA, and apparently it involves adding one more regular season game, according to an article by Daniel Kaplan for The Athletic.
The rub to this is that another game would add significant funds towards ownership whereas for players it would not. Currently, players are paid their contract amount in increments of 17 weeks and paid every two weeks. The extra contest would not add to every player’s contract money, just would add to their playing time with the same amount per their contract.
When the NFLPA first heard about an 18-game schedule, their executive director DeMaurice Smith came forward and said that they would not be in favor of adding more regular season games, especially for the same pay.
But now the owners are dropping their desire for 18 games and are instead sre wanting to add a 17th game and have it included in the new CBA, which again should be for 10-years. The owners have suggested by adding more games there could be another bye week inserted for each club.
Currently, the regular season lasts 17-weeks. By adding one more game plus one more bye week, this would amount to a 19-week regular season. In 2018, the playoffs began the weekend of January 6 and ended with the Super Bowl on February 3. With training camps opening the third week in July, this would mean players would have spent 31 grueling weeks involved in their day job of playing professional football and the new date for the Super Bowl would be somewhere around the 17th of February.
To this point, it has been reported numerous times that progress in being made on the new CBA and has a very good chance that the new agreement would be finalized before this year’s regular season has concluded.
In the interim, Smith is doing a barnstorming tour of every NFL club and has stated that talks will continue once his annual tour is completed.
An 18-game season is not a new thing. The United States Football League from 1983-1985 played 18 regular season games with only two preseason games, so a model of what to expect is already on display.
While most NFL starters play very little in the current preseason format, the second string, third string and special teams players make up the majority of the minutes consumed during preseason games. Then, those same guys have to be available and play during a grueling regular season. Plus, four preseason games are only devised to let coaches know who to cut and who to keep. Practice sessions are great, but nothing shows the coaching staff which athletes are going to help your ball club from this point going forward than actual games and the tension live action creates. Talent evaluation in live game action is essential.
The NFLPA has brought up the injury aspect as another roadblock to adding any more games to the schedule. At this point, the NFLPA is saying whether it is 17 games or 18 games, their position is “no.”
While the owners have stated that an 18-game season is not in their cards, they have made it known they are in favor of adding one more game to each season while dropping two of the preseason games.