NFL owners approve 17-game season, playoff expansion; plan now up to players association

NFL Players Association must vote on 7-team NFC and AFC playoff brackets, 17-game season proposed by NFL owners; expanded playoff could come for 2020 season

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) calls to his team at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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By BARRY WILNER

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL owners voted to accept the negotiated terms for a new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday.

Now the onus is on the players, who have a conference call Friday.

With the league eager to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the players in the next few weeks — the current deal runs out in March 2021 — team representatives were summoned to New York to discuss the NFL’s proposal.

Among the items in that proposal, according to several people familiar with the negotiations but speaking anonymously because they are not authorized to release such information:

— A 17-game schedule, which always has been a stumbling block in talks with the NFL Players Association. More roster spots per team would be a must for the players.

— A reduction of the preseason.

— A higher share of revenues for the players; the current number is 47 percent.

— Even an expansion of the playoffs, something the NFL has been seeking for years.

Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested back in 2015 that increasing the postseason field to seven teams in each conference was in the works. The owners could unilaterally add a wild-card team in the AFC and the NFC, but are willing to make such a move part of a new CBA.

Also being considered is a second bye week to go with a 17th game, although almost certainly not for the 2020 season. The expansion of the playoffs easily could occur this year, however.

The current CBA was reached in 2011 after a 4½-month lockout of the players. Agreeing to a new one before the league’s business year begins on March 18 could lead to several provisions being activated for the upcoming season.

A 17th game would preferably be played at neutral sites, which one of the people familiar with the talks said could include non-NFL U.S. venues as well as Europe, Mexico and Brazil.

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