Back in 2011, the last time the league and its players renegotiated the collective bargaining agreement, expanding the regular season from 16 to 18 games was brought to the table. It didn't happen then and we've heard little about it in recent years -- until now. With the current CBA set to expire in two years, some NFL owners want to revisit the 18-game schedule and even expanding the playoff field, reports the Washington Post's Mark Maske.
A high-ranking official with one NFL team said that there are "some owners who would like to expand the season" to 18 games, adding it's not clear "if there is much support from the players on that."
Unless there's been a drastic change among players, they'll almost certainly oppose the idea of an 18-game season, for the same reasons it was opposed in 2011: More football means increased likelihood of injury, and the potential increase in salary wouldn't offset that.
"[Players] don't see the positive tradeoff, the guys don't see it as something that is good for their careers, good for their bodies," NFLPA president Eric Winston told the Dan Patrick Show in August 2018. ... "[The] cap is going to get tilted heavily to the star players." Winston said. "The people that I've talked to on how that money could be spread, wouldn't go to your role players, your middle-of-the-road guys."
As recently as Feb. 2017 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that "I don't see big movement" in support of an extended regular season and added that the league wouldn't move forward without the support of the players.
Last September, Giants co-owner John Mara made it clear that the NFLPA wasn't interested.
"We were negotiating the CBA in 2011," Mara told the New York Post's Steve Serby at the time, via PFT. "Jerry Jones was in one of our meetings. We were on a break and we were about to go in and talk to the players about the schedule. He said, 'I want to try to sell them on the 18-game regular season.' And my response was, 'Jerry, they're adamantly opposed to that. You have no chance.' He says, 'I'll bet I can sell 'em on it.' I said, 'You sell them on the 18-game season, I will walk around Times Square for the week in a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt.' He said, 'You're on.' We walked into the meeting room, and he barely got the words out of his mouth, and the players said: 'No way. That's a deal breaker. We'll walk out of here right now.' So I did not have to walk around Times Square wearing a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt."
Meanwhile, Maske adds that it's not clear how many owners want an 18-game schedule but the expectation is that two more regular-season games would generate a significant revenue boost, and perhaps players could be convinced "by offering a reduction in preseason games, an increase in roster sizes and possibly other concessions."
And it's those other concessions that could ultimately determine whether we see an 18-game regular-season schedule.