The NFL is expected to confirm the expansion of the regular season from 16 to 17 games next week; increase is set to be first change to schedule since 1978 when league went from a 14 to a 16 game season
Last Updated: 28/03/21 8:52pm
The expansion of the NFL regular season to 17 games is expected to be approved by league owners next week.
The go-ahead for the addition of an extra game to the schedule would be the first change to the format since the NFL moved from 14 to the current 16 games in 1978.
Owners from all 32 NFL teams will meet remotely on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the changes.
NFL is expected to expand the regular season schedule this week to 17 games. The league had played a 16-game regular season schedule since 1978, by far the longest stretch without a change in NFL history.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2021
Such an alteration to the schedule has been on the cards ever since the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association formally approved the latest collective bargaining agreement last March.
The finer details of the changes are yet to be confirmed, but it is anticipated the preseason would be cut back to three games rather than the usual four matches, while all 32 teams will retain their one bye week, bringing the total regular season to 18 weeks.
The expansion could also mean the Super Bowl is moved back a week, while there is speculation that from the 2022 season each team will be required to play at least one international game every eight years.
The NFL hopes players, coaches and staff will get the coronavirus vaccine but has confirmed it will not be made mandatory ahead of the 2021 season.
The NFL on Thursday sent a memo to all 32 teams ahead of this year’s draft outlining a series of more relaxed protocols if all individuals in the draft room were vaccinated.
The league’s chief medical officer Allan Sills said similar regulations would apply once the season begins, with vaccinated individuals receiving extra privileges.
“The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association have no intention of making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for players, coaches or staff,” Sills told NFL Network.