NFL players clearly aren't thrilled about the prospect of an 18-game season, but it seems like something that's just going to happen, because of the financial gain at stake. If it does, though, the owners will likely need to make some concessions to the players.
The NFLPA's biggest argument against an expansion of the season is player safety and they have, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, offered a "good faith" counterproposal to the league's extension of the regular season. Highlights of this proposal, according to Mortensen's sources, include:
- Voluntary offseason workouts would be reduced from the current 14 weeks to five weeks or 20 days (four days a week, four-hour maximum per day).
- Significantly reduced contact between players during training camp with four practices a week consisting of helmetless and padless periods.
- Two in-season bye weeks.
- Expanded rosters from the current 53 to 56 or 57, in addition to practice squads.
- Increased pro-rated salaries for players under contract.
- Reduction of the amount of games players need to become vested to qualify for post-career health care and pension benefits.
The NFL's original proposal reportedly calls for 12 voluntary workout weeks (as opposed to the five the union wants) and a bye week following the two preseason games and then a bye during the season (as opposed to the two in-season byes the union proposed). The NFL also reportedly wants to add just one roster spot, increasing from 53 to 54.
The differences in the two sides "wants" are pretty stark, but these are also initial proposals, meaning there's likely some sort of wiggle room, although the clock is certainly ticking as we head into the second half of the NFL season.
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