The NFL and NFL Players Association are on track to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a 17-game regular season by early 2020, reports Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
The two sides have made meaningful progress toward a new labor agreement, which would prevent a work stoppage in 2021, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The current CBA runs through the 2020 season.
The NFLPA has publicly resisted a longer schedule, citing safety concerns for players. But owners are reportedly prepared to make their fair share of concessions.
A 17-game regular season might include one neutral-site game for every team each year, potentially fueling the league's international series. The lengthier slate would also reportedly result in a shorter preseason and could pave the way for an expansion of the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams.
Changes to the playoff format would apparently see only one team receive an opening-round bye, rather than two. One of the games on Wild Card Weekend could be a Monday night contest.
Playoff expansion does not require union approval.
The most significant discussion in negotiations continues to revolve around revenue splitting. Under the current CBA, players have received between 47% and 48.5% of revenue each year. The NFL generates an estimated $15 billion in annual revenue.
A new CBA could reportedly be in place by early January or by the Super Bowl in early February and may feature several other changes including: