A new NFL collective-bargaining agreement could reportedly be approved in the coming weeks. And with it could come a dramatic new playoff structure for the league.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the new CBA is expected to include a provision for playoff expansion.
Proposed new NFL playoff structure
Seven teams from each conference would make the playoffs as opposed to the six teams that make the postseason under the current structure. Only the top seed from each conference would receive a first-round bye.
According to the report, both the team owners and players are on board with the proposal.
“That's been agreed to for a long time," a source told Schefter. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue.”
Change would take place immediately
The proposed change would take place immediately for the 2020 season, according to the report.
Owners are also continuing to push for regular-season expansion to a 17-game schedule while shortening the preseason from four games to three according to the report. It’s unclear where the NFLPA stands in negotiations on the proposed expanded regular season.
If agreed upon, the 17-game regular season wouldn’t apply until 2021, according to the report.
CBA must be approved to take effect
All of this has to be approved as part of the greater CBA, which is still being negotiated and requires approval from both sides. Schefter’s source expects that deal to be done in time for the new league year that starts on March 18.
"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.
Chiefs would have had a tougher road to Super Bowl
Had the proposed new rules applied this season, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens would have been the only teams with first-round byes.
The Green Bay Packers and Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs would have been relegated to wild-card weekend as No. 2 seeds.
The Los Angeles Rams would have made the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and played the Packers in the first round of the NFC playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers would have been the AFC’s No. 7 seed and the first-round opponent for the Chiefs.
The additional matchups would mean six playoff games on the NFL’s wild-card weekend instead of four, with presumably three on Saturday and three on Sunday.
The divisional round would then proceed as normal with four teams advancing from each conference.
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