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New CBA proposal would increase NFL playoff field, make number one seed much more valuable

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Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It is no secret that the NFL’s ownership wants to increase the number of games per season in an attempt to further maximize revenue. The new collective bargaining agreement, which is currently being worked on between the league and the players association, therefore includes proposals that will drastically alter how many games will be played during the preseason, regular season and playoffs according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The basic ideas included in the latest CBA proposal, which needs the players’ approval but one owners hope will get ratified by the start of the new league year on March 18, look as follows:

17-game regular season: This has been on the owners’ wish-list for quite some time now and will be a make-or-break part of the current proposal. The players have long been against increasing the number of regular season games without a proper structure around it in terms of player benefits and rest time, so this remains the elephant in the room for now. Either way, the first 17-game regular season would probably take place no earlier than 2021.

Increased playoff field: According to Schefter’s sources, this part is already agreed upon and will be included in the new CBA. As a result, one can expect a 14-team playoff field — up from 12 teams — as early as the 2020 season. Per conference, one additional team would make it in as a seventh seed. In order to make this work, the playoff bye week structure would also need to be altered. Speaking of which...

Only the number one seed gets a playoff bye: Under this new CBA proposal, the two-bye system would be eliminated and only the conferences’ top seeds would have wild card weekend off while a total of six games take place. This would naturally make the top seed much more valuable, and give the teams earning it an enormous advantage over the rest of the somewhat watered-down playoff field.

Shorter preseason: With a longer regular season for each team and more playoff games as well, the newly proposed CBA would also call for a shorter preseason and eliminate one of the current standard four exhibition games. While this will ideally decrease wear and tear during the summer, it might make it more difficult for unheralded players — think New England Patriots youngsters Gunner Olszewski and Jakob Johnson — to make a team’s roster or practice squad with one fewer in-game opportunity to showcase their skills.

Different payout structure: Under the current CBA, which is set to expire after the 2020 season, players get a share of 47% of the league’s revenue. The new proposal would increase this number to 48% under a 16-game regular season, and to 48.5% further down the line once a 17-game season gets implemented. This growth is estimated at a value of up to $5 billion. Furthermore, players whose teams earn a first-round playoff bye would also get paid for wild card weekend — something that is not part of the present CBA.

It remains to be seen whether or not the newly proposed agreement will get ratified by the players association, but there appears to be optimism on the owners’ side that a compromise will be reached before the beginning of the 2020 league year in-mid March: “The new CBA’s not done, there’s no term sheet yet, there still are issues being negotiated, but I’d be very surprised if there’s not a new CBA for the new league year.”

In the meantime, fans should get used to the thought of watching more 8-8 teams make the postseason and the number one seed holding plenty of power in the playoff tournament.


Would you agree to this new CBA proposal if you were the NFLPA?

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