NFL moves to a 17-game regular season
April 1, 2021
The National Football League (NFL) announced on Tuesday that they are moving to a 17-game regular season schedule starting in 2021 season. The owners voted to approve the change, which has been in the making for at least the past year. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the NFL had the option to increase the regular season to 17 games starting in 2021.
"This is a monumental moment in NFL history," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world."
Each team will host 10 games overall – either nine regular-season games and one preseason game or eight regular-season games and two preseason games. AFC and NFC teams will alternate annually between eight and nine home games. The AFC will have nine in 2021. The extra game will be a cross-conference matchup based on the previous year's divisional standings and the division schedule rotation from two seasons prior.
For the local teams, the Los Angeles Chargers will pick-up an additional home game this season versus the Minnesota Vikings at SoFi Stadium and will have one less preseason game at home, which should please Charger season ticket holders. The Los Angeles Rams will add an additional road game to their schedule in 2021, when they take on the Baltimore Ravens.
The Super Bowl, which was scheduled for February 6, 2022 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, will be moved one week to February 13, 2022. With the 17-game schedule, the NFL will reduce the number of preseason games to three. The NFL has played 16-game seasons since 1978 but has wanted to move to 17 games for a long time. They finally got that opportunity in the recently approved CBA.
The NFL will add two additional active roster spots, increasing the roster to 55 players. There will be a decrease in padded practices at training camp, down from 28 to 16. Padded practices will be limited to 2.5 hours, down from 3. Retired players will also benefit from the new deal, as they will see an increase in benefits and boost to pensions.
The NFL has been busy this offseason, with the recent announcement of new agreements with media partners Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, FOX and NBC to distribute NFL games across television and digital platforms, along with additional media rights. The agreements will commence at the start of the 2023 season and run through the 2033 season, broadening the league's digital football to a larger audience while preserving its custom of keeping all NFL contests on over-the-air-television.
The Thursday Night Football game will move to Amazon Prime Video in 2023. ABC has acquired the rights to televise two Super Bowls along with exclusive regular season games. The new agreement allows ESPN the opportunity to simulcast all ABC and ESPN games on ESPN+. ESPN+ (pronounced ESPN Plus) is an American internet subscription video streaming service. The NFL is slowly moving into the digital world.