The concept of a 17-game NFL season has floated around the NFL universe for years but now, with the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire after the 2020 season, it seems to have gained momentum.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed on Wednesday that the league is including a 17-game option as part of its talks with the players' union.
Of course, such a seismic change would have to be approved by the NFL Players' Association but, as I've written previously, this makes too much sense for both sides not to seriously consider it.
Let us (briefly) count the ways:
-- A 17-game season would allow the NFL to reduce its awful preseason from four games to two without costing the league or the players money. In fact, it would probably make money for the owners and the players by giving the league an extra week of games to market to networks.
-- The league could use the week gained by chopping the preseason in half to institute a second idle week to each team's schedule, thereby turning an extra game into a win for player safety.
-- The league could use that extra week to schedule strategically, by making sure each team was off before a Thursday night game and/or expanding its efforts to play internationally by guaranteeing an off week after a game in England, or Mexico, or Japan, or Australia, or any place on the planet the league thinks it can plant the NFL flag.
There's obviously a long way to go between now and then, but at this point I'd be modestly surprised if the NFL regular season remains at 16 games for 2021 and beyond.