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Report: NFL proposes 18-game regular season, but 16-game limit for players

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has made it no secret that they really really really love the idea of extending the regular season to 18 games. Well as the NFLPA and the NFL prepare for another round of CBA talks next week, the owners have reportedly made a new proposal for an 18-game slate, but with a twist!

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal (note: it’s behind a paywall), the NFL has reportedly conjured up a world where players do not play more than 16 games — you know, because they deeply care about player safety — even though the season lasts 18 games. Seriously.

One idea owners have proposed: limiting players to 16 games, to assuage health and safety concerns. That would mean even if the Kansas City Chiefs played 18 games, quarterback Patrick Mahomes would play in just 16 of them.

In other words, mandated “load management.” And presumably this eliminates a couple of the already unnecessary preseason games, as has also been discussed.

Under this proposal, Russell Wilson would have to miss two games and we’d be treated to Geno Smith or Paxton Lynch for an entire regular season game while a healthy Russ is required to sit one out. Team strategy would be significantly revamped as they look at league schedules, the playoff race, and have to figure out when and which players get their two games off.

Now, if you’ve missed two games through injury or suspension in the first place, then this doesn’t matter... but just imagine needing another kicker or punter in a critical matchup with playoff implications!

Obviously the NFLPA doesn’t have to agree to this whatsoever, or even if they do agree to an 18-game schedule, they could do so without the limit. But check out this interesting tidbit from the WSJ column:

That type of increase could have consequences, according to the union’s analysis. The additional two regular-season games every year would reduce the average career span from 3.3 years to 2.8 years, they estimate. That is crucial because players currently become eligible for post-career benefits such as pensions and health insurance after three years.

The NFL’s counter to that was to say, based on its calculations, “the average career length for a player who has played in at least three games is 4.2 years. The league added that there were only 2,800 injuries last year that caused players to miss time.”

This is something to keep an eye on as we near the expiration of the current CBA and the possibility of an NFL lockout in 2021.

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An 18-game season but a 16-game max limit for players, yay or nay?

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  • 18%
    Yay
    (253 votes)
  • 81%
    Nay
    (1123 votes)
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