The NFL schedule will expand to 17 games in 2021, but it sounds like further expansion of the league calendar is only a matter of time.
NBC’s Peter King wrote in Monday’s “Football Morning in America” that most observers believe an 18-game schedule is on its way, possibly even by 2025 or 2026. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk echoed that sentiment, putting an over-under date on 2030.
As you may recall, 18 games was the original target set by NFL owners when they began efforts to expand the regular season. When players balked at that, owners compromised and dropped to the 17-game format — still largely unpopular with players, but more acceptable than the alternative.
For the NFL, more games means more money and more interest in the league. Players likely won’t be happy, but the league may be betting on the expansion to 17 games going smoothly and making the players more open to further expansion of the regular season. That said, some compromise will likely be necessary, possibly involving further reduction or even elimination of the preseason. Players may request some other things as well, as this has been a major issue from their standpoint that they could seek changes to.