Stories

An 18-game NFL season might be unavoidable

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) and NFLPA executive members.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) and NFLPA executive members. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL and the NFLPA are in the midst of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, and reports indicate that owners are pushing for an 18-game regular season, with each player limited to 16 games.

What they're saying: Despite pushback from players and even some of the owners, SI's Andrew Brandt believes an 18-game season is the only way a new CBA gets signed.

Brandt: "Negotiations, by necessity, require concessions by both sides — 'gives' [and] 'gets.' The NFLPA's wish list of 'gets' would include, but is not be limited to:"

  • Improved revenue split (players currently receive 47% of league revenues).
  • Shortened rookie contracts to allow earlier free agency gains.
  • Sharing of new revenues associated with legalized gambling.
  • The end of or limitations on (1) the franchise tag, (2) the commissioner's power over personal conduct and (3) the discipline for marijuana use.

Reality check: "This wish list is great," writes Brandt, "but raises the question: What, exactly, is the NFLPA going to offer the NFL to achieve any of these desired outcomes? I can't think of a single thing, except … 18 games."

  • P.S. ... An 18-game season could put nearly half a billion dollars in the hands of players each year. So, while the NFLPA would be conceding to the owners by agreeing to this, the increased revenue makes this "give" much easier to swallow, thus increasing the likelihood of it happening.

The other side: CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora disagrees: "Looks like the ultimate stalking horse to me, and, actually, yet another sign that things continue to progress well towards a new labor deal. ... [D]on't lose any sleep over this."

Go deeper: Medical marijuana and sports betting are top issues for NFL's CBA talks