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Roger Goodell: NFL Isn't Actively Discussing 18-Game Schedule, Is 'Long-Range' Goal

Julia Stumbaugh

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is not actively discussing extending the season to 18 games, but that the league is considering the longer season in a "long-range context," according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Goodell expressed his support of the idea, which would theoretically eliminate one preseason game and extend the regular season by one contest.

"We think that's a good trade: less preseason games and more regular season games," Goodell said, per The 33rd Team's Ari Meirov.

The NFL's current collective bargaining agreement, which promises not to extend the regular season past 17 games, does not expire until 2031.

"The key thing for us is looking at making sure we continue to do the things that make our game safer," Goodell said. "Seventeen games is a long season, so we want to make sure we look at that and make sure that we continue the safety efforts."

Goodell's comments came during league meetings in Nashville on Wednesday.

New York Giants owner John Mara said during the meetings that he believed the majority of league owners would support eventually lengthening the regular season, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported.

"I worry more about player fatigue and wear and tear on the players moving forward," Mara said. "That's one of the reasons why we have to have the discussion with (the players union)."

Team owners previously voted to expand the regular season from 16 games to 17 games in 2021, while shortening the preseason from four games to three games.

The current CBA ratified by players in 2020 included the increase to 17 games as an option, but limited owners to no more than that amount.

To change that clause now would require a re-negotiation of the CBA. Further schedule changes are more likely to come when the next contract is negotiated prior to the 2031 expiration.

When asked about the potential of negotiating a longer regular season two months ago, NFL Players Association president Jalen Reeves-Maybin did not immediately shut down the possibility, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

"I think there's a lot of other things to gain, and when that time comes, we'll address that," Reeves-Maybin said about the schedule extension in March.

It is likely the NFL will need to make some concessions to players in order to gain an 18th game of the season. When the last CBA was ratified in 2020, the league offered players higher minimum salaries and player revenue in order to get players to agree to the possibility of an additional regular-season game.


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