NEW YORK – While the concept of a future 18-game NFL season is nothing new, with players objecting to the wear and tear of an added two games, The Wall Street Journal reported a potential compromise Friday.
In early negotiations regarding the league’s current collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2020 season, an addition to the schedule reportedly has been discussed with the owners proposing the players remain limited to 16 games in an 18-game schedule.
Teams would have to stagger two games off for each of their players on the roster.
NFL Players’ Association executive director DeMaurice Smith confirmed to ESPN that the possibility has been raised, but added that the players don’t have any incentive to support it.
“I don’t see an 18-game schedule — under any circumstance — being in the best interest of our players,” Smith told ESPN. “If somebody wants to make an 18-game proposal, we’ll look at it. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think that it would be good for the players.”
The idea of an 18-game schedule goes back to at least 2011. And even though the added work would add tens of millions to the payroll of each team, the players have held strong that more regular-season games are not their preference.
The longer season would require a shortening of the preseason schedule, which is typically four games for teams. The report cited an NFLPA analysis that an added two regular-season games for each team could increase revenue by $2.5 billion league-wide.
“No players are banging down my door asking me to think about this,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said, according to the WSJ.
“Why is it our job to figure out how to make 18 games work as players? You tell someone you’re going to work longer and you figure out how to make it work? That doesn’t work,” Smith told ESPN. “It’s not our job to put that square peg in the round hole.”
Instead, the players seem keen on non-schedule increasing proposals like a quicker route to free agency, changes in the minimum salary guidelines, increased benefits and bonuses.
–Field Level Media