Big changes appear to be coming to the NFL schedule. Some of the proposals could take effect as early as this coming season.
A longtime bone of contention for the players has been the length of the preseason. The injury risk has long been an issue with those games. Considering some teams sat their most important players for the entire four-game run, it makes sense that it would be reduced. That could happen, but the NFL owners won’t do it without adding some games on the back-end.
According to Adam Schefter, that could come in both the regular season and the postseason. Negotiations are still ongoing, but that is what the owners are looking for. Earlier, the ESPN NFL insider reported that the current proposal adds a playoff team to each conference, so that 14 total teams will reach the postseason, with only one team receiving a bye. It could be joined by a bump up to 17 games in the regular season as well.
We’ll see if the players go for it. It seems unlikely without a nice bump in the revenue pool for the players, especially given player health concerns that come with adding an additional game. There are also other questions, like whether the season would start a week earlier, or a week later. From Schefter:
More details: Under the current CBA proposal that NFL owners are pushing for, the playoff field would be expanded to seven teams, while the regular season would be increased to 17 games per team, and the preseason shortened to three games per team, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 19, 2020
Per the full ESPN report, both sides seem to be set on the playoff expansion. The 16-game schedule is another issue.
If that passes, it won’t take effect until 2021 at the earliest:
Now the sides are trying to work through the final issues, including getting the players to sign off on a 17-game regular season. That has yet to be agreed to, and would not take effect until 2021 at the earliest.
“The new CBA’s not done, there’s no term sheet yet, there still are issues being negotiated, but I’d be very surprised if there’s not a new CBA for the new league year,” the source said.
With the new proposed NFL playoff format, the Pittsburgh Steelers would have earned the No. 7 seed in the AFC, while the Los Angeles Rams would’ve had a chance to defend their conference crown out of the NFC.