It appears as if the NFL’s owners are shifting their focus from pursuing an 18-game regular-season schedule for a different plan.
Adam Schefter (ESPN) and Daniel Kaplan (The Athletic) have reported the league is setting aside its plans to make a push to add two games to the regular season and instead are angling to make the NFL have a 17-game schedule. The reports were essentially confirmed by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is often a lead dog in these types of negotiations.
Here is what Jones had to say about the latest update:
Jerry Jones on potential 17-game schedule in NFL’s next CBA: “It is an item of negotiation, and we are involved in negotiation with the player union. … I couldn’t comment on it because … I don’t want to get into (where players stand on expanding the regular season).”
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 27, 2019
Enough support to come to an agreement on approving an 18-game schedule was never going to come from either side of the bargaining table, but trimming it to 17 games could work.
The rumored 17-game proposal is expected to be paired with a trimmed preseason schedule, which would cut down from four games to just two. That could be a win for players (who are increasingly being held out of preseason contests), fans (who are attending fewer preseason games), and owners (who get two fewer sparsely attended exhibition for one full-price regular -season game). Sacrificing two preseason games to get one more game of consequence feels like something all parties could come to an agreement on when piecing together the next collective bargaining agreement.
In addition to that, there is still hope that the postseason could be expanded. Adding an extra playoff team in each conference is still a possibility. The discussions will continue on as the owners try to add something to their side of things as they give up their original goal of landing an 18-game schedule.