With the NFL and the NFL Players Association spending the next two days in meetings, the topics will indeed extend beyond a discussion of player behavior.
Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the talks will include a discussion of expanded playoffs.
The NFL has deferred a vote on expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams as of 2015, undoubtedly to avoid a situation in which the league locks in to the move and then the NFLPA wants a bunch of stuff in exchange for agreeing to two extra playoff games. So the league wants to do the bargaining in advance.
The quo for the quid could include, for example, one less week of preseason games for all players. It’s no secret that the NFL would expand the playoffs to offset the revenue lost by giving up the fourth week of preseason games that Roger Goodell despises. Since the players benefit from that, it makes sense to offer giving up a week of preseason games as the concession to expanding the playoffs.
The league also could dangle smaller inducements, like getting rid of overtime in the preseason. On the agenda for last month’s league meetings, the league wisely tabled the move to make overtime irrelevant for four weeks of exhibition. Since it can be used as something that benefits players by reducing their exposure to live contact, it shouldn’t be done unilaterally.
Ultimately, the players should welcome expanded playoffs because they currently share in the total revenue. Selling a pair of prime-time playoff games on top of the four already played on wild-card weekend could generate hundreds of millions of dollars.
Also helping the effort is that new NFLPA president Eric Winston already has said he likes expanded playoffs. Which means that it should be easy to come to an agreement.
Then again, that’s what we thought about HGH testing in 2011. Especially since they actually reached an agreement.