"At the most recent collective bargaining session between the NFL and its players union, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the league decision-makers proffered one of the most tantalizing ideas in professional football: What about an 18-game regular season?" They are proposing these changes a couple years out from a potential nightmare standoff between the owners and the NFL Players' Association when the NFL's collective bargaining agreement expires at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.
In search of new revenue streams, owners have always been believed to be interested in expanding the regular season.
"This isn't the first time 18 games has been discussed".
According to Beaton, the owners have pitched a 16-game limit for players, keeping the superstars at their regular workload rate. "That would mean even if the Kansas City Chiefs played 18 games, quarterback Patrick Mahomes would play in just 16 of them". With the constant threat of injuries and the realities of non-guaranteed contracts, however, an expansion of the regular season could result in players earning less money over the entirety of their career.
The longer season would require a shortening of the preseason schedule, which is typically four games for teams.
Along with an 18-game schedule comes a stipulation that players can only play in sixteen of those games. "That is crucial because players now become eligible for post-career benefits such as pensions and health insurance after three years".
Still, with a two-game absence from every player in the league, the roster sizes would have to increase dramatically.