Are you ready for an 18-game season? Or perhaps expanded playoffs? You might see one of those in the NFL in the next few years.
That’s because we’re nearing the end of the current collective-bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The deal ends after the 2020 season, and a new CBA means there can be major changes to the game we all love — if both sides agree, that is.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that one idea “some owners” want to bring forward is a longer regular season, increasing the number of games from 16 to 18. The goal would be to bring in more revenue, which is always something NFL owners are interested in.
However, the Post’s NFL source said that they’re not sure that idea has much support from players. During CBA negotiations 10 years ago, the NFLPA opposed a longer season on the grounds of safety. While the NFL has made strides in player safety, it’s not known if that would be enough to persuade the union to tack on two additional games a year — especially onto contracts that have already been negotiated.
The owners could offer trade-offs to get players to agree to a longer regular season, but there are other ideas on the table. The Post reported that a possible revenue-increasing alternative to a longer regular season would be to expand the playoffs by two teams, from 12 to 14. Seven teams from each conference would qualify for the playoffs, and the opening round would have six games instead of four. While that would put the burden of more games on fewer players, it could also invite more mediocrity into the proceedings. Do we really need more borderline teams making the playoffs? (The answer: definitely not.)
One more possible change in the new labor agreement could be to the NFL’s marijuana policy. Several stars over the past year have publicly admitted to marijuana use, saying that it has helped them deal with pain. The NFL and NFLPA recently formed a joint committee to study pain management, which has already opened the door to a possible change in the NFL’s policy. But the Post reported that the owners may be willing to go farther, though there are no details on what they would be willing to do.
This all seems great, right? The owners are willing to talk about changes that are important to the players. Let’s get that agreement signed!
As nice as that would be, it’s definitely not going to be that easy. The NFLPA is gearing up for a fight on multiple issues. Earlier this week, it was reported that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith recently sent a letter to all certified player agents, asking them to encourage their clients to save money in case of a 2021 work stoppage. That doesn’t mean there’s going to be a lockout, but it looks like the players are getting ready to fight.
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