Negotiations between the NFL and NFL Players Association for a new collective bargaining agreement will not be completed before the start of the 2019 season in large part due to disagreement over a regular-season expansion, but the future of the preseason could be an entirely different story.
That’s according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who reported Thursday that “the holdup on the No. 1 issue” in CBA talks is whether to increase the amount of regular-season games. That’s something NFL owners continue to push for, per Pelissero, and something NFL players continue to oppose. Both sides, however, appear OK reducing the number of preseason games and “are open to adding playoff games as a means to offset the lost revenue,” meaning labor negotiations as a whole remain “positive” with a potential September reconvening on the docket.
The current CBA does not expire until after the 2020 season, but proposed scheduling changes have been an apparent sticking point in the biggest negotiations thus far. NFL owners have not been shy about expressing interest in an expanded regular season, and the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> reported in July that they proposed an 18-game schedule with a 16-game limit for all players. The NFLPA, meanwhile, is angling for increased player revenue, according to Pelissero, but without an increase in regular-season games. And earlier this month, NFL Network reported that the two sides are at least interested in exploring a one-game reduction of the preseason — accompanied by a move from 12 to 14 playoff teams.
There is no deadline for the NFL and NFLPA to wrap up negotiations, but the last time the two sides forged a new CBA, the NFL endured a five-month lockout during which owners also campaigned for an 18-game regular season. Per Pelissero, the “toughest phase of bargaining still awaits,” but thus far there’s been progress on preseason talks in addition to multiple secondary issues.
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