The negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement are ongoing, but the biggest change that looks set to happen is the addition of a 17th regular season game, while trimming the preseason to just three.
Presumably this would come with the addition of a second bye for each team making it a nineteen game regular season. The benefits for the franchises and particularly the owners is clear to see. An extra two weeks of advertising revenue, along with the possibilities of tweaking the schedule to squeeze in even more coverage. The likely expansion of the London already gives an extra four hours on a Sunday.
But what are the benefits for the players? They will get an extra cut of the revenue. The proposal agreed by the owners would see their share increase by 1% in the event of a 16 game season, or 1.5% with a 17 game season. It may not seem like much but we are talking around $5billion across the 10 year agreement but 1.5% is still not a lot when you consider just how much extra they stand to make. An extra bye week would come with obvious benefits but whether that would outweigh the extra game is debatable.
There will be a cap on what players can earn for the extra game on deals agreed under the current CBA. A maximum of $250k will only really affect the top earners, but it has to be considered.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football deal run out at the end of 2021. There are big rumours of them moving for Tony Romo already. It is clear they are going to be plowing money into their coverage and any new deal will be hugely lucrative for the league.
But perhaps the biggest reason that the players should be wary is how happy the owners seem to be about the deal. The 17th game gives them so many benefits and a tiny portion of that will be passed on.
For me the best possible outcome is a 16 game season with an extra by week. That will still extend the season by one more week, but it will also benefit the players and hopefully prevent some of the injuries we see every year.
The players look set to vote on the CBA this week, but I just see no way this gets done this quickly. There are too many other things the players should be asking for if they are going to agree to the extra game.
An extra share of the revenue, improved healthcare benefits and without a doubt increases in roster sizes and changes of rules regarding inactives on game days. Anything to give these players a better chance of recovery between games and as they move on past football when their careers are done. The proposed deal does cover some of those, but not nearly enough of it.
How the whole thing works out is going to be a huge part of the news over the coming weeks and months, but don’t expect it to be done too soon. I don’t think we will get to a hold out, but the threat of it could well be the player’s best bargaining tool.