The NFL is planning on expanding its season from 16 games to 17 games, beginning in 2021, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
An announcement is not expected to come anytime soon considering negotiations still need to be held about a new media contract to broadcast an extra week of regular-season football, which is explained in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In order to make room for a 17th regular-season game, the league is expected to cut the preseason slate from four games to either two or three.
For the last 33 seasons, dating back to 1978, the NFL has played 16-game seasons — a two-game bump from the previous 14-game campaigns.
The desire to increase the season schedule was only fortified by the financial losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic when teams were forced to play in empty stadiums or in front of limited crowds.
“Though there was always support for making the move to 17 games sooner than later, a projected multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic increased the urgency of the situation for both NFL owners and the players’ union,” Rapoport and Pelissero noted. “The sides negotiated a deal in August that spreads the accounting for the shortfall over several years and prevents the salary cap from dropping below $175 million in 2021 — compared to $198.2 million this year.”