The NFL and NFLPA are currently engaged in negotiations about a new collective bargaining agreement, with many of the issues at the heart of talks stemming from the owners’ desire to expand the number of meaningful games played.
Reports on Wednesday indicated that the two sides are approaching a deal rapidly, with the expansion of the regular season to 17 games being the biggest dividing line. It seems like that’s inevitable, with the question being when the 17-game season comes into play and whether that leads to anything new in terms of the number of roster spots available, additional cap space, and more.
Players wanted it as late as possible in the proposed 2021-23 window. Sounded like the owners wanted it early. So a possible compromise. https://t.co/tRkoqHJqRS
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 19, 2020
While that battle continues, one thing seems to be set and agreed upon already, and that is playoff expansion. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the playoffs will expand from 12 to 14 teams, beginning with the 2020 season, with there being seven teams from each conference that make the postseason and just one team earning a first round bye.
Under the current proposal that is expected to take effect in the new CBA when it is done, seven teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs instead of the six that currently do. In addition, only one team from each conference will receive a first-round bye as opposed to the two that currently do, league sources said.
That would mean six games on Wild Card Weekend instead of four, and then the same schedule as usual in the Divisional Round the following week. As for what the players get out of this, the team that is on the bye will apparently now be getting playoff pay for that week, something that (somewhat stunningly) they aren’t getting currently.
There will be plenty of debate as to whether this is good or bad, and the real answer will be “it depends on the year and conference.” There will be times where there are seven deserving teams in a conference and in those years, this will be a positive change to get more quality teams a chance at a playoff run. In others, it’ll be allowing more mediocre teams in and just causing a much better team to play one more game they probably don’t need to and might lead to more blowouts in the first round. The NFL doesn’t care so much about that, because more games on TV means more money because people will tune in.
The rest of the negotiations will be interesting as we learn more of the changes that will come to the NFL schedule, compensation, and more. For now, the two biggest points that affect fans are playoff expansion, which is done, and regular season expansion, which is expected but still on the table.