NFL owners on Tuesday approved expanding the league’s regular season from 16 games to 17 games starting in the 2021 season.
The league announced the change on Twitter.
Beginning in 2021, the NFL is expanding to a 17-game regular season. pic.twitter.com/skNisJwPS2— NFL (@NFL) March 30, 2021
Players agreed to play the additional game as part of their 2020 collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The decision was based on the league adding additional revenue that will lead to higher salaries.
Teams will reduce their preseason games from four to three.
Each team will also play at least one international game every eight seasons, with the initial focus on neutral sites in the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, South America and Mexico.
“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.”
The new schedule will push the Super Bowl back a week to Feb.13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Earlier in March, the NFL announced new media distribution rights with networks ESPN/ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Amazon. Starting in 2023, the league and its players will bring in $100 billion in revenue during the 10-year span of the deal.
Even with the increase in revenue, some NFL players such as New Orleans Saints star running back Alvin Kamara and Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos tweeted their displeasure with the expanded regular season.
Throughout the past decade, the NFL has dealt with major criticism over its handling of concussions, which led the league to put more of a focus on player safety — including putting in place an advanced concussion protocol system, abolishing hits to the head and introducing equipment changes. Adding more games is likely to lead to more injuries and seems to fly in the face of player safety.
The league has played a 16-game season since 1978, but owners have been pushing for an expansion since.