NEW YORK (AP) — NFL owners will meet Thursday in Manhattan to discuss ongoing negotiations with the players’ association about a new collective bargaining agreement.
Recent talks have brought both sides closer to a potential agreement a year before the current 10-year deal expires. Having the 32 team owners together for a previously unscheduled forum — the next scheduled owners meeting is not until the end of March in Florida — appears to be a sign of substantial progress.
The league has proposed a 17-game regular season as part of a new contract. A trade-off to get that likely would include more roster spots as well as a larger percentage of revenues going to players.
According to Adam Schefter, a change to the playoff format for next season is also part of the new CBA.
Under the current CBA proposal that NFL owners are pushing for, the playoff field would be expanded to seven teams from each conference, while the regular season would be increased to 17 games per team and the preseason shortened to three games per team, sources said.
As part of the proposed playoff format, only one team from each conference would receive a first-round bye as opposed to the two that currently do, league sources said. That would mean a revised postseason schedule that includes six games on wild-card weekend, with three on Saturday and three on Sunday.
There’s also been discussions about reducing the preseason. An extra bye week during the regular season also is a possibility.
Although there would seem to be plenty of time to get a new deal done, the NFL’s business season starts March 18, when free agency begins. Getting a CBA before then would allow the league to turn attention to further broadcast and digital contracts and international initiatives.
The NFL Players Association has scheduled a conference call for Friday. The combine is next week in Indianapolis, where both sides conceivably could continue talks or, for the brightest optimists, secure an agreement.
The current deal was reached in the summer of 2011 after a lockout that began in mid-March. No games were lost except the Hall of Fame’s preseason opener.