The NFL plans to expand the regular season to 17 games in 2021 – a historic move that would generate new revenue and could at least slightly mitigate the expected decline in the maximum salary next year, sources say.
The announcement may not come for weeks, if not months, as the NFL must first negotiate at least one new media contract in order to move to 17 matches in 2021, as per the collective bargaining agreement. But as one of the team sources familiar with the discussions said: “We all expect this to happen.”
In contrast, the pre-season period will be cut into either two or three games. There is still a farewell week for each club, leading to an extension of the regular season gross to 18 weeks and a postponement of the Super Bowl to the second week of February.
The NFL has played a regular season of 16 games since 1978, when it added two games to each team’s schedule. Under The new CBA was completed last MarchThe League and / or Clubs have the discretion to increase the number of regular season matches for each club to 17 – but not more – at any time, in coordination with reducing the number of pre-season matches to no more than three games.
Although there is enduring support for the move to 17 games early rather than later, the projected billions of dollars in revenue shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even more dangerous for both NFL and Players’ Union owners. The two sides negotiated a deal in August that distributes the shortfall account over several years and prevents the salary ceiling from falling below $ 175 million in 2021 – compared to $ 198.2 million this year.
The cap is still likely to drop significantly in 2021, according to sources, but the seventeenth game as part of a new media deal could increase it above $ 175 million. The association’s share of all revenue is already set to rise from 47 percent to 48 percent in 2021, and the move to 17 matches with a new media deal leads to an increase in the players’ share.
Although there is no specific deadline to finalize a new media deal and schedule for 17 games, the schedule release – which usually takes place in April or May – is a logical goal.
Going to 17 games will also unlock the inventory of potential new international and neutral games. The NFL already plays matches regularly in the United Kingdom and Mexico, and is eyeing potential matches in Canada, China, Japan, Germany and Brazil.
The NFL owners did not vote to go to 17 matches at their virtual meeting on December 16, but they did Agree to the scheduling procedure. Each team will play an additional rotation match – AFC vs. NFC – based on the Divisional Ranking from the previous season and a League Division basis.