New York (AFP) - NFL owners are pushing to expand the regular season from 16 to 17 games, while reducing the number of pre-season contests, in talks with the players union, according to multiple reports Thursday.
ESPN and The Athletic websites, citing unnamed sources, said team owners were making the pitch after NFL Players Association (NFLPA) leaders rejected the notion of an 18-game season in July, saying it would not be in the best interest of players.
The Athletic said the 17-game proposal would see NFL pre-season games in August trimmed from four to either three or two, with ESPN reporting the most dramatic proposal could eliminate all pre-season games.
A 10-year collective bargaining agreement between the league and players has another 18 months remaining but negotiations are under way.
The NFL has also talked about adding playoff games to make up lost revenue from a shrunken pre-season schedule, likely adding two teams in each conference and ending first-round byes for the two division winners with the best record in each conference.
ESPN reported sources on both sides say there is progress and a new deal could be completed this season, although talks are not set to resume until after NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith finishes his annual visits to every club.