UNITY TWP., Pa. — The NFL has made it clear over the last few years that expanding the current, 16-game, 17-week regular season is a goal.
Earlier this month, NFL owners made a proposal to have an 18-game regular season, with each individual player only allowed to play in 16 of those games.
The league’s labor agreement with the NFLPA expires in March of 2021, and negations around the renewal of that deal are likely to be centered around the idea of expanding the current schedule. The New York Times reported on Monday that talks are expected to begin between the two sides this week in Chicago.
But Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster has what he thinks is a better idea: leave the regular season the same length and expand the playoffs.
“I’m more quality over quantity at this point,” he said. “People are going to start to say, ‘What are we paying for season tickets for if the starting quarterback isn’t playing in the game?’”
An expanded postseason would provide the NFL with revenue from high-profile games and also make each game down the stretch more meaningful, with more teams in the playoff hunt until the very end.
Currently, 12 of the 32 NFL teams make the playoffs, or 37.5%. The NFL and the NBA have over 50% of their teams in the postseason, with seven-game series providing two months’ worth of playoff games for their fans.
“Reward the teams that get the opportunity to do good,” Foster said. “Of course there would be that one, maybe 7-9 team or 8-8 team, stuff like that, but we live for the Cinderella. We enjoy March Madness because there’s always this one team that gives a push towards the end. Those teams, I think they help boost tournament time.”
Of course, Pouncey’s proposal would have also helped the Steelers out in 2018. At 9-6-1, they missed a playoff spot by just one-half of a game. They were the only NFL team to win nine games and miss the postseason.
The one thing that the 18-game proposal would do that would be good, in Foster’s estimation, is increasing the current 53-man roster size. But he feels that could happen regardless of whether or not games are added to the schedule.