The NFL is reportedly set to expand the regular season to 17 games in 2021, according to a report by Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
The NFL is expected to add a 17th game to the regular season in 2021, sources say. A look at how the dramatic move will change the landscape of the season, along with what it means for the salary cap.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2020
The story from me and @TomPelissero: https://t.co/ShD7J4HkCG
While a formal announcement on expansions plans is not expected for weeks or even month, Rapoport and Pelissero report their sources around the league believe it is inevitable.
If a 17-game season were adopted, the preseason would be cut down to two or three games, with the Super Bowl pushed back until the second week of February. Each club would still have a single bye week, and there would be 18 weeks of the regular season.
Momentum for the 17-game slate comes as the league is exploring ways to make up for lost revenue during the pandemic-altered 2020 season.
Rapoport and Pelissero report that the league is projecting a multibillion-dollar shortfall in revenue from this season, a problem potentially righted by adding the extra game starting in 2021. With a drop in the salary cap expected as well, a 17th game would ideally offset that loss as well.
According to Rapoport and Pelissero, expanding the schedule would also present the opportunity of additional international games, as the league has done in London and Mexico City in the past. The NFL has also explored the idea of playing games overseas in China, Japan, Germany and Brazil.
While nothing is official, owners did approve the framework for adding a 17th game earlier this month, with each franchise an additional interconference opponent determined by the previous year’s division standings.
The NFL has played a 16-game season since 1978.