The NFL wants to implement a 17-game season, and it wants to do it as soon as possible. The NFL Players Association wants to slow the process down by a year or two.
Per multiple sources, players would like to delay the implementation of an extra regular-season game until 2022 or 2023. This position flows primarily from the fact that plenty of players have contracts that extend to 2021 and beyond, complicating significantly the prospect of compensating them for an extra game.
Roughly 70 players currently are under contract through 2023. If a 17-game season can be delayed that long, a system for compensating those players in 2023 (and beyond where applicable) would be devised.
But the league still wants to expand the regular season as soon as possible. And for good reason. There’s money to be made in that extra weekend of games, and the league wants to start making it.
With players showing unexpected resistance to a 17th game, however, a compromise to 2022 could be what’s needed to work this out. And however it works out, there’s an emerging sense that, indeed, a deal is coming. And it will include 17 games.
One of the biggest questions left as to a 17th game is when the extra game will be played.