The regular season isn’t the only part of the schedule that could be expanded. In the latest collective bargaining agreement proposal, the league would see the postseason balloon to seven teams per conference with only the top seed receiving a first-round bye, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The change would go into effect immediately, meaning that we’d see two extra playoff teams beginning in 2020.
Schefter adds that the current CBA proposal also includes an increase to 17 regular season games, which has been a long-debated topic between the two sides (and among pundits). Predictably, the preseason would be shortened to three games.
On Thursday, NFL owners and execs will huddle up in New York to consider terms requested by the players, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The NFLPA, meanwhile, will discuss things via conference call on Friday. Jason La Canfora tweets that a vote isn’t expected at the owners meeting, while Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes that the decision could come down to the wire (which would be March 18th). At the very least, this is an indication that CBA talks are progressing and there’s reason to believe that the two sides will avoid a work stoppage with a new deal.
Still, many issues remain unresolved. At last check, the two sides were still haggling over the funding rule, which puts a player’s guaranteed money into escrow. Originally designed to protect players, its become an oft-cited reason for teams avoiding lots of guaranteed money in future seasons.
The players want the funding rule scrapped and NFL owners are aiming to keep it. A compromise could be on the horizon, however – the league has offered to give teams a $10MM credit against the requirement, Mike Florio of PFT hears. The $10MM amount isn’t much, but as Florio notes, it could be a workable solution if the league is willing to push that figure higher.
Further, La Canfora notes that the players would push for fewer training camp and regular season practices. If those conditions (along with a few others) are met, the NFLPA is confident that the players would approve the expanded playoff format.