Multiple outlets have reported that the NFL will expand the 2021 regular season to 17 games. Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport first reported the move. According to the report, an announcement from the NFL could be months away as at least one media deal must be negotiated to make a move to 17 games.
Why the NFL 2021 Regular Season Will Expand
The answer is straightforward. Money. There is no other reason to put players through another game’s worth of beatings, except it will make the NFL more money. There is way more money in adding a week of regular-season games to the schedule than continuing to run fourth and fifth string players out in one or two preseason games, which will decrease with this move. The move to 17 games was going to happen, but the COVID pandemic increased the urgency to get something done per the report.
Why the Urgency?
As we have all witnessed in 2020, the pandemic has cost sports teams a lot of money with no crowds in the stands and spending at the ballpark. That “multi-billion-dollar shortfall” is why this move was rushed to the forefront. Providing the 17th game of revenue could soften the blow to the salary cap.
While the cap is still expected to go down in 2021, the added revenue could boost the $175 million floor that was negotiated back in August by the NFL and the Players Association. Teams can spread the losses over a few years, and the cap stays above $175 million.
What’s in it for the players?
According to the article, the player’s revenue share was already set to increase from 47 percent to 48 percent in 2021. Adding the 17th game will add a “media kicker,” which means even more money for the players.
No timetable has been given as to when this change will occur, but it will need to be in place before announcing the schedules for next season. Per Pelissero and Rapoport, the schedule release date is usually in April or May so expect something before that point.
The owners will still have to vote on the 17 game 2021 regular season but have already voted on who teams will play. Per the previous vote,” each team would play an extra interconference matchup — AFC vs. NFC — based on divisional standings from the preceding season and on a rotating divisional basis.”
The NFL has wanted this for a while to expand its reach and generate more revenue. One more game means the potential to play anywhere globally and generate more excitement and fans. The question is, will adding a 17th game be healthy for the sport long term?
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