Owners pitch 18-game season that would limit players to 16 games

Carrie Guzman
July 14, 2019

What's interesting about this idea is that it would put a limit on how many games each individual player can participate in. Those include improving conditions for middle-class players, who face short career spans, non-guaranteed contracts and post-career health concerns-concerns that might be undercut by playing more football.

The idea is unorthodox, and as cool as it would be to get an additional two Miami Dolphins games each season this feels a long way off.

The NFL has recently ramped up discussions to extend the regular season to 18 games in the future.

Packers chief executive Mark Murphy floated a compromise on Friday, suggesting the league expand the season one week and use the extra game for worldwide or neutral site appearances.

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In early negotiations regarding the league's current collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2020 season, an addition to the schedule reportedly has been discussed with the owners proposing the players remain limited to 16 games in an 18-game schedule.

If this proposal were to pass, franchise quarterbacks would be forced to miss two regular-season games. "The union estimates that the average NFL career is 3.4 years, but an 18-game season would drop that to 2.8 years, or just below the league requirement to be eligible for a pension". It's understandable to want to make more money, especially for those teams not competing for a playoff spot or ones who have no chance to reach the Super Bowl.

As for how the 18/16 proposal would logistically work with each player on the roster only dressing for 16 of their team's 18 games, that could end up being a coaching nightmare.

"No players are banging down my door asking me to think about this", said Eric Winston, president of the NFLPA. "That doesn't work", Smith told ESPN. The NFL and NFLPA have already started negotiations on a new deal, with Smith categorizing the talks thus far as "positive". "That is crucial because players now become eligible for post-career benefits such as pensions and health insurance after three years". The NFLPA believes that increase would add another $15 million to the salary cap limit for each team in the first year. That solution would be used to protect the health of the players.

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