The NFL plans to increase the number of regular season games to 17 in 2021

According to people familiar with the matter, the NFL is expected to increase the number of regular season games to 17 in 2021 – a historic decision that will add more revenue and may at least slightly reduce the drop in salary cap next year.

Given that the NFL must negotiate at least one new media contract before deciding to increase the number of regular season games next season, the NFL will not officially announce this decision in the near future. But a team source familiar with the details of the discussion said: “we all expect the League to make that decision.”

Increasing the number of regular season games to 17 means that the number of pre-season games will be reduced to two or three. Each team will still have one week’s rotation, which will extend the regular season to 18 weeks and postpone the super bowl to the second week of February.

The NFL has been using the regular season system of 16 games since the 1978 season. In the new labor agreement reached in March this year, the league and / or the team have the right to decide at any time to increase the number of regular season games to a maximum of 17 and reduce the number of pre-season games to no more than three.

Although there has been a lot of support for the plan to increase the number of regular season games to 17 games as soon as possible, the revenue gap expected to reach billions of dollars under the influence of the new crown epidemic makes it more urgent to increase the number of regular season games. Team owners and players’ unions reached an agreement in August to spread the gap over the next few years to prevent the cap from falling below $175 million next year. This season’s salary cap is $198.2 million.

People familiar with the matter said that the salary cap may still be substantially reduced next year, but the new media broadcasting contract may ensure that the salary cap will exceed $175 million. The revenue share of the players’ Union has been determined to rise from 47% to 48% next year, and the new media broadcasting contract will further trigger conditions and further increase the players’ share.

Although there is no definite deadline for the media contract and the schedule of 17 games, it is usually a reasonable time to release the schedule of the new season in April or may.

The increase to 17 regular season games will also increase the possibility of playing in new neutral venues and international competitions. The NFL has fixed regular season games in the UK and Mexico, and they are considering regular season games in Canada, China, Japan, Germany and Brazil.

At the online team owners’ meeting held on December 16, the team owners did not vote on the 17 regular season plan, but did approve the schedule of the 17 regular season. Each division will be added in the first 17 games of each season according to the regular division.