NFL adds 17th regular season game

Zachary Brandwein, Contributing Reporter

On March 30, the NFL approved a rule change that added a 17th game to the NFL’s regular season schedule. It is reported that all but one team agreed to this change, so if you are a Chicago Bears fan, it means your ownership does not want to watch the team play another week. All the matchups have been revealed and are potentially NFC and AFC matchups, a very significant detail when it comes to the playoff picture. Any team on the brink of making the playoffs is now more likely to control their own destiny and given what happened during the Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles game last year, this is what fans want and deserve. I’m sure that was the last thing on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s mind, however, as teams lost anywhere from $3-4 billion combined. The NFL has been looking for ways to recoup those losses ever since the Super Bowl ended.

Since selling the rights to Thursday Night Football to Amazon, the NFL will gain $1 billion annually from 2023 to 2033. Goodell also says that the league wants to “welcome back fans across the country at all NFL stadiums” and fans are sure to flock to the stands after missing a whole season of football.

This added game is also significant for the players and teams. Officially, the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns are the only two teams to ever end a season 0-16, and no team will ever be able to do so again.

From the players perspective, they have to condition for an extra week of games and after seeing how last year went with injuries up by 16% from the previous three-year average, that average will only climb higher. It’s not all bad, however, as the single season records will be shattered. For example, Derrick Henry, running back for the Tennessee Titans, had 2,027 rushing yards last season, the most in the NFL. If you average it out, that’s about 126.7 yards per game. If Henry runs at that pace this upcoming season, he will break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record by about 48 yards. Modern day NFL players have an opportunity to cement themselves in NFL history, and Goodell and the owners have made it easier than ever before. 

Although Goodell has been adamant that this will increase revenue, it may not be as quickly as he previously thought. Players will now have the ability to earn 1/17 of their salary for playing in the added week, as long as the player is under contract when the collective bargaining agreement is officially signed to increase the limit from 16 to 17 games. For teams that are up against the cap such as the Saints, this helps immensely as the added bonus money does not count towards the cap as long as the player is under contract. Even so, the Saints still have the least amount of cap space available — less than $500,000 — in the NFL, and with the starting QB job still in question along with the Russell Wilson rumors, Mickey Loomis is going to have to get creative if he wants the 2014 Super Bowl champion to wear the black and gold this year.