A 17-game NFL regular season could soon become a reality

Ben Krimmel
November 14, 2019 - 10:21 am

The NFL and NFL Players Association are progressing toward a new collective bargaining agreement that will likely make a 17-game regular season schedule a reality, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Citing multiple people familiar with the situation, Mark Maske reported there is positive momentum that has "buoyed optimism" an agreement for a new CBA will be in place before the end of 2019, ahead of the current labor agreement's expiration in 2021. And owners are showing a willingness to make concessions to get players to accept a 17-game season.

There is no indication of what the NFLPA would demand in exchange for an extra regular-season game, which the union has previously stated they were against, but the assumption is the players would require a greater share of the league's estimated $15 billion a year in revenue. 

The league seems to have backed off demands for an 18-game season to make it more palatable to the NFLPA. The move will likely come with a reduction of preseason games, possibly from four games to two.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told The Sports Junkies in August he wants the league to move closer to zero preseason games.

"Let me answer it this way, I would rather be closer to no preseason games," Smith said.

"To me, what the fans are voting for with both their feet and their money and their attendance is they don't like the preseason product," Smith said. "It seems to me if they don't like the preseason product (and) coaches have an interest in developing younger players and getting players their reps, what's the fix for enabling the coach to develop younger players and the fix for not forcing fans to buy a preseason package that nobody wants to go to? So, I look at those things as the polar opposites. The question is how do we get to a point where we serve both?"

Of course, when he was asked by 106.7 The fan if the players are in favor of eliminating preseason games in exchange for adding two regular season games, Smith answered flatly, "No."

The Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs Clark Hunt said Wednesday reducing the preseason is a priority. "I think reducing the preseason is something that everybody would be in favor of – replacing a game, perhaps two, with one regular-season game," Hunt said.

The extra regular season game could mean each team might play one neutral-site game each year (with international venues like London, Mexico City, and Toronto hosting games in the past). Teams could also alternate having a home schedule with eight or nine games.

San Francisco 49ers corner Richard Sherman, a vice president on the NFLPA's Executive Committee, tweeted Wednesday the situation is still fluid and players should still prepare for a work stoppage. 

For Smith, it all comes down to player safety.

"We don't want everybody to get hurt more. Or more people get hurt," Smith said about adding 

"If you were talking to a group of coal miners and you said, 'You could pull more coal out of the mine by spending more time in the hole, it might expose you to black lung more, but you're gonna get paid more money.' My guess is at some point you're gonna get a group of coal miners that are gonna say, 'I make enough money that I don't want to risk eternal health problems,'" Smith told 106.7 The Fan.

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