The NFL is keeping players and fans guessing on the length of future seasons.
Two months ago, NFL owners voted to expand the regular season to 17 games for the first time.
Now, an 18-game schedule may be in the league’s future, and the move could come as early as 2025, according to NBC Sports.
“Most observers … think 18 games is on the way,” writes Peter King.
The league’s current collective bargaining agreement, which runs until 2030, accounts for a 17-game season, but further extensions could be negotiated to bring more football to fans.
If it does eventually happen, the 18-game schedule is more likely to become become a reality in the mid-2020s — potentially under Roger Goodell’s successor. Goodell has been NFL commissioner for 15 years and his current contract ends after the 2023 season, but he’s given no hints that he plans to retire then.
Extending the NFL schedule has notable financial upside for the league and its media partners.
- An extra game would sweeten the NFL’s current media rights deals with CBS, NBC, Disney, Fox, and Amazon — worth a total of $113 billion over 11 seasons.
- The NFL already makes the most money of any American sports league with $12 billion in revenue last year, despite a drop from $16 billion in 2019 due to the pandemic. Another game would further cement that status.
Even with the promise of more games for fans and broadcasters, the decision to extend the NFL season has faced scrutiny due to its potential impact on long-term player safety.