NFL plans to add 17th game for 2021 season

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Get ready for a longer NFL season.

Sources told NFL Network that the league plans to add an additional game to the regular season schedule in 2021, lengthening the season from 16 to 17 games.

“We’re all anticipating it’s going to happen,” a team source familiar with the situation told NFL Network.

Each team will still have a one-week bye, meaning the true season would last 18 weeks. This would push the Super Bowl to the second week of February.

Up to three preseason games would be cut to offset the additional strain on clubs, per the new collective bargaining agreement which was finalized in March.

A formal announcement is not expected for weeks or months while the NFL negotiates a new media contract to accommodate the extra game per the league’s CBA. The schedule is usually released around April or May for the following season.

The move is expected to “generate new revenue and could at least slightly soften an anticipated drop in the salary cap next year.”

The 2021 salary cap is expected to drop significantly from $198.2 million due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited or outright stymied many revenue streams for the league and teams.

Owners did not vote on the 17-game proposal at their last virtual meeting on Dec. 16. They did, however, approve the underlying scheduling procedure in which each team would play an extra interconference matchup, “based on divisional standings from the preceding season and on a rotating divisional basis.”

The NFL has played a 16-game schedule since 1978 when it shifted from 14 to 16.

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