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NFL owners propose 17-game season, expanded playoffs as part of new collective bargaining agreement

Players union can accept, reject or negotiate
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Posted at 8:13 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 20:15:50-05

NEW YORK — The NFL is taking another shot at adding a game to the regular-season schedule.

The 32 club owners reportedly voted Thursday to include a 17th game as well as expanded playoffs in their proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association. A 17th game would preferably be played at neutral sites, which one of the people familiar with the talks said could include non-NFL U.S. venues as well as Europe, Mexico and Brazil.

However, the union has opposed adding to the regular season and would probably insist on expanding rosters in exchange.

The owners' proposal also is said to include:

  • A reduction of the preseason, initially from four games to three.
  • A higher share of revenues for the players; the current number is 47 percent. The cut the players would receive is dependent on the length of the regular season, but would remain below 50 percent regardless.

NFL owners met in New York Thursday, but league officials would not comment on the vote.

Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested in 2015 that increasing the postseason field to seven teams in each conference was in the works. The owners could unilaterally add a wild-card team in the AFC and the NFC, but are willing to make such a move part of a new CBA.

The provisions for two more wild-card games, developed years ago, would have only the team with the best record in each conference receiving a bye for the first weekend of the playoffs. There’s even a chance one of those wild-card matchups would be played on a Monday night.

Also being considered is a second bye week to go with a 17th game, although almost certainly not for the 2020 season. The expansion of the playoffs easily could occur this year, however, if a new CBA is reached.

Now the onus is on the players, who have a conference call Friday involving its executive committee and player representatives.

Should the players vote against the proposal or seek further negotiations, the NFL has said the current 10-year agreement would remain in place for 2020. It expires in March 2021.