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Report: NFL will add regular-season games, playoff teams in potential new CBA

Here is what we know right now about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming ahead of the 2020 season.

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The new league year begins on March 18 at 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time. With the new league year comes the official start of free agency. (Thanks to the legal tampering period, we’ll find out about plenty of moves beforehand — but that’s a story for another day).

The new league year will be especially significant this time around, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that both the NFL owners group and players association are working toward having a new Collective Bargaining Agreement done by that time. The current CBA is to expire at the end of the 2021 season, so this would effectively prevent any potential for a lockout.

If the owners and players can beat the March 18 deadline — and with meetings set for Thursday and Friday, it appears to be trending in that direction — the changes made would be reflected on the 2020 season. When it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs, that is a critical point for two reasons:

  • First, an expanded salary cap would boost the team’s chances in affording to pay both Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones.
  • And second, the league intends to change the number of regular-season games and playoff system for the 2020 season.

SCHEFTER: Under the current CBA proposal that NFL owners are pushing for, the playoff field would be expanded to seven teams from each conference, while the regular season would be increased to 17 games per team and the preseason shortened to three games per team, sources said.

As part of the proposed playoff format, only one team from each conference would receive a first-round bye as opposed to the two that currently do, league sources said. That would mean a revised postseason schedule that includes six games on wild-card weekend, with three on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Visiting the hypothetical

If this system were in place for 2019, the Chiefs would have finished second in the AFC, we believe. The Chiefs and Patriots finished with the same 12-4 record, and another game might have changed that.

Assuming the Chiefs would have been the No. 2 seed anyway, they would have hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wild Card weekend, then played the second-lowest remaining seed between Patriots-Titans and Texans-Bills. In a new system, had the Chiefs won, they would have played the Texans in the Divisional Round and the winner of Titans-Ravens in the AFC championship.

My take

Gauging from Twitter on Wednesday night, I am probably in the minority on this topic, but I love the new system.

From a Chiefs’ fan perspective, you may look at the system and say, ‘Well this year, we wouldn’t have had a bye.’ And while that is true, I think there is the reality that even with Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs won’t always be 12-4 or 13-3. There will be years when the Chiefs won’t have a top-two record in the AFC. And when those years come, there is now a greater chance Mahomes and company are in the dance. Based upon the first three seasons of Mahomes, I like those odds.

From a general NFL fan’s perspective, this means another regular-season week and another two games of do-or-die football in the playoffs. Some may be upset about another playoff team diluting the regular season, but with only one bye to go around in each conference, that makes the regular season all the more important.

From the little we now know, these new ideas tend to favor the owners — more games means more money, period. But based upon comments and reports from Schefter, it feels as though they are the driving force trying to get the deal done ahead of the new season. That makes you think the players will be receiving enough on their end to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, they could simply delay the process until next year — meaning everyone risks a potential lockout in 2021.

What happens next

Updates from ESPN’s Dan Graziano:

Poll

Do you like the league moving toward 17 regular-season games and a new playoff system?

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  • 53%
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