There's a ton of change coming soon for the NFL, and that much is certain. With the league currently in active negotiations to get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to by the NFLPA and in place as soon as possible, concessions will have to be made by both sides in order to achieve that goal. The biggest talking point as of late is the possibility of stretching the regular season to 17 games from the longtime standard of 16, and while all of that gets hashed out, there's another question the NFL has for players.
The league wants to know if teams are open to adjusting the schedule flex format going forward. The ability to flex games is standard practice in the NFL nowadays, with teams routinely being notified beginning with Week 5 of the regular season if they'll remain in an early Sunday time slot or if they'll be pushed back into one that garners more viewership, i.e., Sunday late afternoon or Sunday Night Football. What has not been an option to this point is the ability to flex from Sunday to Monday, but that could change in the future.
After all, if the goal is to flex premium matchups into prime slots, it seems inevitable it would eventually involve Monday nights.
A proposition has been reportedly made by the NFL to install such a clause in the new round of TV contracts -- per the Sports Business Journal -- after the current agreements with the four major networks are renewed. The deal with ESPN is set to expire following the 2021 season, and deals with CBS, NBC and FOX are all set to follow suit after 2022. By then, and by all accounts, a new CBA should be in place that aids in the renegotiation of rights between the NFL and the respective networks. If the NFL gets is wish, football fans might one day see big ticket games moved from Sunday's early slot to "Monday Night Football," but there's still much to consider even if they get the approval of all 32 clubs.
And, even if approved, there's quite a bit of obstacles to work through, one being which network lands MNF in the future.
Additionally, as it stands, the NFL is required to notify teams no later than 12 days prior if their game will be flexed on Sunday afternoon. Pushing a matchup to Monday would put the two "Sunday" teams on a short week to follow, and also means the original two "Monday" teams would have one less day to prepare for the Sunday slot they get dropped into. This would require a revisit on the 12-day deadline for notification by the league, as would the logistics of team travel/lodging and getting all of the networks on the same page before new TV contracts are signed.
And then there's the fan aspect, because those who purchase and make travel plans for Sunday games could see their game flexed less than two weeks prior to kickoff, which would throw the fans' entire itinerary into turmoil. Considering there are droves of fans who also have jobs and/or children -- making it hard to simply presume a Monday night game is doable for them -- the league getting what they want could alienate the very people they're trying to please with better matchups.
Bottom line is it isn't easy to change travel plans at a moment's notice, be it for a team or the fan of a team.
So while flex scheduling has been wildly successful and there's some incentive to adding MNF to the mix, needless to say, it won't be an easy sell or installation.