17-game schedule reportedly a “go” for 2021

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers
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The NFL secured in March the ability to add an extra regular-season game as soon as 2021. For some reason, the NFL recently had been coy about whether a 17th game will be played next year.

The NFL reportedly will exercise its prerogative to add a game, starting in 2021.

“An announcement may not come for weeks, if not months,” the article at NFL.com explains. The fact that the report appears on the website owned by the NFL necessarily constitutes a de facto announcement, however. (Indeed, if there were important strategic reasons for continuing to keep the intended expansion of the schedule under wraps, it wouldn’t have been published by NFL.com and openly discussed on NFL Network.)

The report explains that the delay in the official announcement arises from the reality that “the NFL must first negotiate at least one new media contract in order to make the move to 17 games.” The mere fact that this report emerged suggests that the negotiation possibly has been completed (even if on an unofficial basis), perhaps as part of the broader renewal/extension of media rights that have been in the works for months.

The extra game means an extra weekend of action, with 17 games per team spread over 18 weeks. As PFT previously explained, the 17th game will be, for each team, a fifth interconference matchup against an opponent that finished in the same spot in a corresponding division.

The league has wanted to expand the regular season for more than a decade, using the potential shrinkage of the preseason to justify it. The owners, per the report, still haven’t decided whether a 17-game season will include two or three preseason games.

Our guess? The preseason will drop from four to three, leaving 20 total games in the full-season inventory. Then, if/when the league adds an 18th regular-season game, the preseason will cut to two.

As the league tries to repair the financial damage caused by the pandemic, 18 games could be on the table sooner than later. Possibly, 18 games could be part of the looming negotiations with the union on a 2021 salary cap.

Maybe that’s why the league has let it be known now that there will be 17 games in 2021. Maybe, as the NFL and the NFL Players Association move toward the time for figuring out the 2021 cap, the league wants to nudge the door open on 18 games.

Closing the door on the 17-game discussion could be the best way to do that.

53 responses to “17-game schedule reportedly a “go” for 2021

  1. Would not be shocked to see an 18 game regular season in 2021 to make up for all the lost revenue in 2020.

    In addition the owners need to expand game day rosters, its way over due.

  2. Leave it the way it was 16 regular season games and 12 playoff teams – 4 Byes.

    Added game will only diminish league records & quality of play…oh well guess greed wins

    again.

  3. Billionaires need to make sure they can feed their family too. In order to do that, they must put the safety of their employees at risk and dilute their product.

  4. If the NFLPA has any sense (and it’s not clear their leadership always does), they should negotiate in exchange for the 17/18-game schedule the Monday night doubleheader in place of Thursday night. Give ABC the main MNF game, and Fox/NFLN the secondary… late afternoon kick if it’s Eastern/Central time zone teams, late night if it’s Mountain/Pacific teams. The only Thursday night games should be the season opener and Thanksgiving night.

  5. At the risk of sounding like “Get off my lawn!”, I personally do not like the 17 game season.

    I’m a numbers guy. So when you see Barry Sanders running for 2,053 yards in 16 games, and then you see Derrick Henry running for 2,100 in 17 games… my calculator does not compute.

    Records are made to be broken, but when you change the path to those numbers, it taints the entire prestige of the number.

  6. When can we start thinking about an 18 game schedule. How about we have 10 teams in each conference in the playoffs? Money, Money, Money!!!

  7. Next up, the league moves to an 18 game season, 4 new NFL expansion teams and PED tests only on the 1st day of the league year. You’ll be able to watch a game toward the end of the season during everyday of the week.

  8. I’m sure they’ll use it to screw the raiders somehow!

    ————————————

    Your Raiders can screw themselves with their average QB and their celebrity coach no matter if it’s 15 games or 18

  9. The season has been 12 games, 14 games, and 16 games. The sanctity of records is NOT a good argument. Especially with rules that favor the passing game over defenses and run game.

    On top of that, player safety is not a good argument in a vacuum. Why? Because player safety is complex. If they keep some of this covid-19-related 3 week IR and other roster flexibility and expand rosters, you create more player jobs for UDFA types and old veterans alike. You allow injured players to not be rushed back because they are “taking up a roster spot” and adding a 17 or 18th game just means there’s more reason to let players heal up properly for a stretch run.

    The biggest thing is the well being of the players. Does a 17th or 18th game make their well being better or worse? Well, I know people don’t like this answer, but ITS COMPLEX. It depends.

    if we can have 3 week IR stints, expanded rosters, etc. THen there’s more money, more jobs, less pressure to play injured. All of that is a good thing.

    They should add 1 more bye week tho and then have the superbowl line up with Presidents’ day. Then you have a natural holliday after the Big Game. This should be obvious.

  10. What a joke!! I never, ever want to hear about player safety from the NFL or NFL Players Association again.
    And fans — get used to guys off the street being signed and forced to play the next game because of injuries. Because we all know it’s going to happen.
    The NFL is the most greedy pro sports entity there is. There is never enough. They gouge the fans and over-saturate the watered down product until it’s not worth watching.
    I am disgusted by the NFL in many ways, and this is just another example.

  11. “flaccotoboldin says:
    December 28, 2020 at 10:30 am
    The season has been 12 games, 14 games, and 16 games. The sanctity of records is NOT a good argument. Especially with rules that favor the passing game over defenses and run game.”

    —————————————-

    43 years of records. Hardly a moot point, but try again.

  12. ………
    jjfootball says:
    December 28, 2020 at 10:09 am
    I’m sure they’ll use it to screw the raiders somehow
    ……….
    The Raiders really don’t need any help, they can do it by themselves.

  13. While I’m typically against ruining the perfect NFL scheduling system, the proposed change would do two interesting things:

    Create even more parody, as the best teams would have another hard game, and the bad teams would have another easy matchup.

    Allow for good teams/qbs in different conferences to play each other more than just once every four years. When Brady was in NE, he only played Rodgers every four years. Favre rarely played Manning. I’m sure the NFL is excited by the possibility of more big name matchups, which I understand.

  14. flaccotoboldin says:
    December 28, 2020 at 10:30 am
    The season has been 12 games, 14 games, and 16 games. The sanctity of records is NOT a good argument. Especially with rules that favor the passing game over defenses and run game.

    On top of that, player safety is not a good argument in a vacuum. Why? Because player safety is complex. If they keep some of this covid-19-related 3 week IR and other roster flexibility and expand rosters, you create more player jobs for UDFA types and old veterans alike. You allow injured players to not be rushed back because they are “taking up a roster spot” and adding a 17 or 18th game just means there’s more reason to let players heal up properly for a stretch run.

    The biggest thing is the well being of the players. Does a 17th or 18th game make their well being better or worse? Well, I know people don’t like this answer, but ITS COMPLEX. It depends.

    if we can have 3 week IR stints, expanded rosters, etc. THen there’s more money, more jobs, less pressure to play injured. All of that is a good thing.

    They should add 1 more bye week tho and then have the superbowl line up with Presidents’ day. Then you have a natural holliday after the Big Game. This should be obvious.

    ………

    This is a good post, more thoughtful than the usual “stop changing the game” nonsense. For all those who think the game should never change, do you like the forward pass? Down and distance rules? Those, of course, were major changes to the game. I’m sure at the time, though, there were many fans who thought they were abominations.

    The game and the league change and always will. Deal with it.

    Now the 17 game schedule? If some of the changes we saw this year stay (as the above post mentions), it may mitigate some safety issues. Personally, I’d prefer 16 games since I’m ready to see the playoffs by the end of 16 games. But if the league keeps the new practice squad rules, expands the roster a little, and gets rid of two preseason games, 17 games is fine with me.

    And actually, I like the new 7-team-per-conference playoffs. That #1 seed is now huge. And, fewer meaningless games in December if more teams have something to play for.

  15. Lame, lame, lame. If it wasn’t for fantasy fb, the last couple of weeks I wouldn’t of even paid attention. I do not need an extra week to realize it’s the Chiefs and Packers and everyone else.
    I guess it’s another game that a playoff bound team can lose a star player to injury. Lol
    PURE MONEY GRAB.

  16. Great decision. Let the fans cry and whine about how they hate it, but put their TVs on and watch it like the puppets they are. They’ll complain about billionaires and health like the self righteous lower middle class they are collecting their stimulus. One day they’ll wake up to realize money runs everything on the planet and their little “feel good theories” can’t change that.

  17. You know, if you play a game every 2 weeks you could up it to 20 games with playoffs and have football year round….. of course, that’s after the Jags move to Mexico City, and the Rams move to London, and the Jets move to Canada……

  18. Big name match ups come with a potential cost come playoff time. The league can’t wait to pit Rodgers vs Mahomes before one retires. As both are currently #1 seeds, adding another #1 seed to your schedule does not help your chances of repeating as division champs.

    There are other good match ups the league can add into a 17 game slate too but shouldn’t the goal to be to see the best teams in the playoffs/Superbowl?

  19. MNGoon says: “43 years of records. Hardly a moot point, but try again.”
    ——————-

    There were 57 years of records wiped away by the 16-game schedule. Do you plan to cry about those “lost” records too?

  20. People whining about “player safety” are ridiculous. The health risk of playing Game 17 is the EXACT same as playing Game 1 the next year.

    Players are compensated by salary to take on that risk per game – if the player salary increases by 1/16, then that offsets the risk factor completely.

  21. One thing I never hear is how the money changes for the players. Will their contracts be increased to reflect the addition of a 17th game, or will the NFL owners try to squeeze a 17th game into the current contracts with no increase? I suspect it’s the latter…

  22. There is one constant in football. The more you play, the more chance you have of being injured. That is indisputable.
    Therefore, let’s all stop pretending that adding more games doesn’t affect the players’ health, because it most certainly does.
    This is pure and simply based on greed and nothing else.
    I would love to hear from people like the family of those former players whose husbands or sons have died way too young because of CET and other medical problems directly related to playing football. Or the doctors and morticians who’ve treated the players or done autopsies on them and seen just what playing football can do.
    The fact is this — the NFL does not care about the players’ health. They only care about law suits and their image. This is a perfect example. and the NFLPA doesn’t care, either. They also only care about the money.
    If anyone believes that any of these people really care about the players’ health, please see me — I have a bridge to sell you.

  23. Really need a 2nd bye week. Makes the league relevant even longer. Not sure why they haven’t done this already

  24. This ruins the game, but the owners are the greediest people on earth. They make Jeff Bezoz look generous.

  25. The players don’t have a gun to their head. They don’t have to play football if they don’t want to. There are a lot of other jobs in life.

  26. 17th. game
    18th. game
    Playoffs in late January/February.
    Players will love it in G.B./Chicago/Cleveland/Buffalo etc.

  27. Just chiming in to say that I think adding more games is a terrible idea.
    Additionally adding more playoff teams is also a terrible idea.

  28. The golden age of the NFL is long over. A 17-game schedule guarantees the fact that they will never go back to fewer holding, roughing-the-passer, and pass interference penalties. This means we’ll see more commercials as well. Moreover, the player records don’t mean anything anymore. On top of the politics destroying this league, the refs are adding to it with terrible, game-changing calls.

  29. When does the league estimate the year they will get fair refs? You know, the kind that blow the whistle when a player runs out of bounds?

  30. JAMF says:
    December 28, 2020 at 9:51 am

    teams in the NFC East can’t wait to win the division at 7-10
    ————————————————————————————-

    Philly can’t wait to go 4-12-1!

  31. Funny how people think 17 or 18 games are too much. Players will get hurt, they say. Look at it this way. An 18 game regular season a player will play about 9 hours of football. 9! Most of you reading this spent at least 8 hours working today and you made a couple hundred bucks on average. The top paid players make as much on one play as the average fan makes annually. Quit worrying about these players.

  32. Leave it the way it was 16 regular season games and 12 playoff teams – 4 Byes.

    Added game will only diminish league records & quality of play…oh well guess greed wins

    again. ==

    And a million old fogeys like you cried and complained when they went from 13-16..and all they did was triple the ratings.

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