While the Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of factors that they can control about their offseason, there are at least two off the top of my head that are out of their hands. One, they don’t determine what the salary cap will be. And two, it’s not up to them, at least individually, whether or not a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place in time for the start of the new league year.
And as we’ve talked about previously, whether or not there is a CBA on the books will have an impact on what sort of bookkeeping maneuvers they will be permitted to make in 2020 in order to create additional cap space, so it really does matter whether or not something gets hammered out over the course of the next two months.
According to Pro Football Talk, there is positive news on that front, with a curious wrinkle: a CBA may get done in time, and if it does, there’s a very good chance it contains a stipulation that extends the regular season to 17 games.
The league has been pushing to extend the regular season for well over a decade, talking about an 18-game season around the time of the last CBA negotiations, but that largely seemed to have died down in the intervening years before resurfacing in the summer.
It was originally dismissed, with Steelers NFLPA representative Ramon Foster calling it a “negotiation tactic” back in June, but if the reports are true, it could be more than that: it could be reality. One can’t help but wonder what the league might have conceded to get that, if it does happen. Mike Florio writes:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, there’s a deal to be done now, if the economics can be worked out. And the thinking remains that the NFL would very much like the economics to get worked out, and to get a deal done, before the Super Bowl.
So we can possibly have a CBA done within the next couple of weeks, and already know before the Super Bowl is played that this is the last time a champion will be crowned under a 16-game season. The last time the league expanded the regular season was in 1978, when they moved from 14 games to 16 games.
That’s 42 years ago, for those who didn’t do the math. Florio writes that per sources, the new CBA, when completed, will “likely, not definitively”, include the 17-game season.
If that passes, however, a lot will still need to be figured out. How, for example, do you determine which teams get the additional home game? The league has historically operated under seasons with an even-numbered amount of games.
Perhaps shrinking attendance around the league partly inspired this new push by the league to expand the regular season, to pick up some of that added revenue. Regardless of how it happens, however, I just hope that the CBA is on the books by the start of the new league year.