The NFL wants an 18-game regular season. It will settle for 17.
And, indeed, 17 seems to be the current target of the ongoing labor talks.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has taken a key role in this round of negotiations, confirmed during his weekly Friday appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas that the expansion of the regular season by one game remains a possibility.
“It is an item of negotiation, and we are involved in negotiation with the player union,” Jones said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
Asked whether the players are willing to grow the regular season by one game, Jones said, “I couldn’t comment on it because . . . I don’t want to get into [it].”
The NFL Players Association consistently has resisted the expansion of the regular season. But the union also hasn’t ruled it out, which gives the league an opening to add a regular-season game if the offer to the players is strong enough to get them to bite.
The expansion of the regular season would be accompanied by a reduction in the preseason. Packers CEO Mark Murphy, a proponent of the 17-game season, has suggested that the preseason be sliced in half.
A 17-game season would give the league 16 neutral-site games, which in turn would ensure eight true home games and eight true road games for every team in every year. The extra 16 games could be played in other countries, or in unique non-NFL venues in the United States.
It also would make every team a winner or a loser for the year. Barring a tie that would leave a team at 8-8-1, every team would have more wins than losses or more losses than wins.
The bottom line for the league would be a win, with another TV weekend. And if the league also were to add a second bye, the Super Bowl would land on President’s Day weekend, giving plenty of fans the day after the Super Bowl off, which in turn would allow them to fully embrace the Super Bowl experience.