Steelers president Art Rooney II expects the NFL to go to a 17-game schedule for this fall and believes that it will “work out well,” he told fans during a question-and-answer session on Thursday.
The NFL has the ability to institute a 17-game schedule, because it signed new media rights contracts earlier this month, as negotiated with the NFLPA during the last round of CBA talks. The league has not officially announced its intentions, but Rooney discussed the matter as if it will certainly happen.
“The 17-game schedule I think will work out well,” Rooney said. “Obviously, this year will be the first year for it, so we’ll get a chance to see how it goes. I think we will reduce the preseason by one game. It will be a similar kind of schedule in terms of the calendar, but we will just turn one of the preseason games into a regular season a game, which I think all of us would appreciate. I feel good about it, I hope it works, and I look forward to seeing how it does in 2021.”
The NFL has played a 16-game, 17-week schedule since 1990, with an additional bye week added in 1993 and after the fact in 2001, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That entire time period has coincided with a four-game preseason schedule. Before that, the league played 14 regular-season games and six preseason game.
The Steelers’ opponents for 2020 have been released with anticipation of a 16-game schedule. It’s unclear how the league will schedule the additional game for each team.