The NFL is now pushing for a 17-game regular season, after an earlier proposal to expand the season to 18 games was met with resistance on all sides.

NFL 17-game season
The NFL is proposing a 17-game regular season, likely combined with a reduction in preseason games. (Image: Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports)

According to a report by Daniel Kaplan of The Atlantic, owners were briefed on the new proposal during committee meetings in Houston this week, after it was clear there’s not enough player or owner support for the more aggressive expansion to 18 games.

Jones Confirms 17-Game Proposal

The 17-game season would come at the expense of the preseason, with teams likely playing one or two less exhibition games to compensate for the additional week of competitive play.

The proposal was confirmed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who talked about it on 105.3 the Fan on Friday.

“First of all, it is an item of negotiation, and we are involved in negotiation with the players union,” Jones told the radio station. “We certainly have a lot of work to do, but as a part of it, and as a part of looking at the preseason; we’re looking at in its whole, as we would, and do believe that [it] makes a lot of sense today since players really are in shape year-round.”

Given that negotiations are ongoing, Jones was mum on what he has heard from players about the proposal.

“I do have an idea, but I don’t want to get into that,” Jones said of the players’ reaction to the proposal. “It is a solution that I am for, and that is to have the additional game and then we’ll work the detail out as we work it out.”

Any expansion of the regular season would be part of negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between NFL owners and the NFLPA. The current CBA expires following the 2020 season, and owners set a deadline for starting the current round of negotiations at the beginning of the 2019 season.

That deal never came to pass. However, ESPN cited sources as saying that significant progress is being made, and that a new deal might be signed before the end of the 2019 season. Discussions are expected to resume after NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith, finishes his visits with each individual team this year.

NFL Wants More Meaningful Games

The NFL has been looking at ways to provide more meaningful games for fans for some time now. The expansion to a longer regular season is one major way they hope to do so. In addition, the idea of adding a seventh playoff team in each conference has also been floated.

The NFLPA hasn’t yet publicly discussed its stance on a 17-game season. However, Smith told ESPN.com in July that an 18-game regular season was likely a non-starter.

“I don’t see an 18-game schedule – under any circumstances – being in the best interest of our players,” Smith told ESPN.com. “If somebody wants to make an 18-game proposal, we’ll look at it. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think that it would be good for the players.”

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