Will the NFL Expand to an 18-Game Schedule? League Owners and Roger Goodell Reportedly Interested in Lengthening Season

After Roger Goodell made comments signaling an interest in expanding the length of the NFL season, owners are reportedly backing the idea.

The 2024 NFL season will mark the fourth season since the NFL changed to a 17-game schedule.

With plenty of time to think about it, the idea of an 18-game schedule has been floated by those who could make it happen.

What’s going on?

An 18-Game Schedule Gaining Interest Among Owners

In the days leading up to the NFL Draft, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on “The Pat McAfee Show,” in which he floated the idea that the NFL could move to an 18-game season.

“I think we’re good at 17 now,” said Goodell. “But … I’m not a fan of the preseason. The reality is, I’d rather replace a preseason game with a regular season game any day.”

“That’s just picking quality. If we get to 18 [regular season games] and two [preseason games], that’s not an unreasonable thing,” said Goodell.

Ideally, the league would add a regular season game, remove a preseason game, and add a second bye week as well, lengthening the regular season. This would then leave the Super Bowl on Presidents’ Day weekend.

“That ends up on Presidents Day weekend, which is a three-day weekend, which makes the game Sunday night, and you have Monday off,” said Goodell.

However, while Goodell has floated the idea, it would have to be collectively bargained with the NFL Players Association. According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, NFL owners are backing the idea and could attempt to get the NFLPA to agree to it before the current labor deal expires.

“The league and owners have not initiated a new set of formal discussions with the NFL Players Association on the topic … But some owners and league leaders have been contemplating such an effort for months,” said Maske.

The current collective bargaining agreement runs through March 2030, with the NFL’s current TV deals running through 2033. There is an option for the league to opt out of most TV deals following 2029, though, and ESPN/ABC after 2030.

Another factor that would be of note would be how the move could impact the offseason schedule.

“The league might hold a major ‘tentpole’ event in each month — the NFL Scouting Combine in March, free agency in April, and the NFL Draft in May,” said Maske.

KEEP READING: NFL Schedule Release

Maske also mentioned that owners have been seeking an 18-game season since the negotiations with the NFLPA leading to the 2011 labor deal. This eventually led to the increase from 16 to 17 games in 2021 and now the conversations about 18 games.

“I strongly believe they will bring something to [the NFLPA] in the next 12 to 18 months,” a person on the players’ side said, according to Maske.

“I think we are moving toward 18 games,” said a high-ranking official for one NFL team in late February before the Combine began. “Not sure when, though.”

For now, the NFL will continue with what they’ve already done. The 2024 NFL schedule is set to be fully announced in May.

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