The last half decade or so, the NFL has been trying to convince the sports media and fans that player safety is at the forefront of their priority list. Now if you’re one of those folks that believe the league in that regard, I have ocean front property in the Goodlands, South Dakota for sale. The league emphasizes on lowering the helmet penalties then ads a 17th regular season game. The league cuts back on padded practices and then ads a playoff game. They bless us with these ridiculous looking foam helmet coverings and yet they still put out three meaningless preseason games a year, four if you’re scheduled for the Hall of Fame Game.
Some will argue that the preseason is great for the young players. It’s an opportunity for them, if nothing else to put some film together for their resume in the event they don’t make the team, clear waiters, and aren’t retained to the Practice Squad. Then of course we have players like Aaron Rodgers who recently called preseason a “waste” and sees absolutely no benefit to it whatsoever. The GOAT Tom Brady himself just decided to check out for “personal reasons” and isn’t expected to be back for a couple weeks… that’s some timing.
The reality is that the NFL peppers the calendar 365 days a year as it is. If they were to eliminate the preseason altogether or at very least shrink down to one or two games at the most, nobody would blink, and the league would flood television, sports tv media outlets, and radio just as easily during said alleged down time that is the summer in the offseason. I’ll propose a couple options here that I believe make sense for not only the league but the players, and why this would likely add more revenue than having all those extra games being played. I’ll be using the official NFL 2022/2023 league schedule as the template and adding my potential solutions to it to as an example of what could be. It’ll be up to you to decide whether you think it’s better, worse, or indifferent.
Template calendar credit: Operations/NFL
Deadline for all clubs to conduct physical examinations pursuant to CBA Article 45, Section 7(c) for players claiming the Extended Injury Protection Benefit for the 2023 season.
Deadline for Prior Club to send “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a Qualifying Offer for a Right of First Refusal Only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA’s “June 15 Tender” provision.
For any player removed from the Club’s roster or whose contract is assigned via waivers or trade on or after June 2, any unamortized Signing Bonus amounts for future years will be included fully in Team Salary at the start of the 2023 League Year.
Deadline for club to withdraw Qualifying Offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting “June 15 Tender” of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
Beginning on July 15, or on the first day any club begins its training camp, whichever is earlier, and concluding at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day of the roster reduction to 53 players, players in the Reserve List categories of Drafted; Unsigned, Exclusive Rights, First Refusal Rights, Unrestricted Free Agents with an individually negotiated Right of First Refusal, Franchise, and Transition will not count against the overall 90-player limit.
Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for Rookies (defined as a player who has never signed a Player Contract with an NFL Club in a prior League Year) beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for Veteran players. A Club’s preseason training camp will be deemed to have officially opened on the designated reporting date for all Rookies.
Clubs may require First-Year Players (defined as a player who signed a Player Contract with any NFL Club in a prior League Year, but who does not have a pension-credited season) to report on the designated reporting date for all Rookies, or at any time thereafter, including, but not limited to, the designated reporting date for Veteran quarterbacks and injured players, or the designated reporting date for all other Veteran players.
Veteran quarterbacks and “injured players” (as defined in CBA Article 21, Section 6) may be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other Veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all Rookies.
Beginning on the date that the first training camp opens for Rookies through the last business day prior to the Super Bowl, all tryouts and visits will be reported to clubs on the Personnel Notice.
At 4:00 p.m., New York time, Signing Period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents to whom a “UFA Tender” was made by Prior Club. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, Prior Club has exclusive negotiating rights.(Or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later.)
Deadline for all clubs to conduct physical examinations pursuant to CBA Article 45, Section 2(c) to determine a player’s eligibility for the IP Benefit.
If a Drafted Rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2022 and may sign a Player Contract only with the drafting club until the day of the Draft in the 2023 League Year.
First Preseason Weekend.
Injuries to anyone hurts the player and the team. When it happens to a key player in a meaningless game, you can bet your ass it hurts a lot more.
Each Club has until five days prior to its second preseason game to provide any tendered, but unsigned Exclusive Rights Player or Restricted Free Agent with written notice of the club’s intent to place the player on the Exempt List if the player fails to report at least the day before the club’s second preseason game. Such notice must also be sent to the NFLPA. Once such notice has been provided, the club must place the player on the Exempt List. While on the Exempt List, the player will not be entitled to compensation for up to three regular-season games, depending upon the date the player reports to the club. Any such player who fails to report prior to the deadline will be ineligible to play or receive compensation for at least three games (preseason or regular season) from the time that he reports.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 85 players on the Active/Inactive List.
Second Preseason Weekend.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 80 players on the Active/Inactive List. Simultaneously with the roster reduction to 80 players, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness may select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; terminate or request waivers with the designation of Failed Physical or Non- Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness List.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. Simultaneously with the roster reduction to 53 players, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; terminate or request waivers with the designation of Failed Physical or Non- Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List. Players who are on the Reserve List or Exempt List and are not counting against the 90-player limit will begin to count against the 90-player limit.
Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 noon, New York time. Upon receipt of the subsequent Personnel Notice, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 16 players, (clubs participating in the International Player Development Program may sign one additional international player to a Practice Player Contract.) No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a Practice Player Contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player’s prior NFL Player Contract has been terminated via the waiver system.
Beginning at 4:00 p.m., New York time, any player placed on Reserve/Injured, Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, or Practice Squad; Injured during the regular season or postseason, may be designated for return later in the season, subject to the applicable procedures.
Weekend used to announce those who have been voted in to the Hall of Fame for the current year, to be inducted later in the season.
Final day of preseason training camp for all clubs, as defined in CBA Article 23, Section 10.
August 29-September 3:
In accordance with the Personnel (Injury) Report Policy, each club is required to file a Practice Report with the NFL Communications department by 4:00 p.m., New York time,(or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a regular season Sunday game; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for a Thursday game; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for a Monday game; and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for a Saturday game. Each club must also file a weekly regular season Game Status Report with the NFL Communications department by 4:00 p.m., New York time (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) on Wednesday for a Thursday game, Friday for a Sunday game, Saturday for a Monday game, and Thursday for a Saturday game. An update must be reported if there is any change in a player’s condition after the initial Game Status Report is filed.
At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for all NFL Player Contracts, Practice Player Contracts, tender offers, and miscellaneous amounts to fit within each Club’s 2022 Salary Cap, in anticipation of the midnight expiration of the Top 51 Rule.
At 12:00 a.m., New York time, the Top 51 Rule expires for all NFL Clubs.
There you have it. We eliminated a preseason game and nobody noticed. During the course of summer practices teams are free to have as many joint practices and scrimmages as they like. Surely the media will show up and if it’s open to the public, teams can still sell concessions and parking. I’m willing to wager most parents and kids would rather go to a practice event with a shot at getting autographs, versus paying hundreds to stand in long lines and fighting traffic for a full price game that doesn’t even count.
September 1, 4-5:
First Week of Regular Season Games.
Yes, it makes complete sense to kickoff the new season on an American Holiday weekend. Labor Day Weekend marks the true end of summer and a time when vacations are all over. Everyone is back home with nothing to do but watch football.
September 2, 5-6:
Beginning on these dates, any player with at least four previous pension-credited seasons who is released from his Club’s Active List or Inactive List (or from his Club’s Reserve/Injured List if placement occurred after the club’s first regular season game) is entitled to claim Termination Pay, after the end of the regular season, subject to the terms and conditions of CBA Article 30.
September 8, 11-12:
Second Week of Regular Season Games.
September 15, 18-19:
Third Week of Regular Season Games.
September 22, 25-26:
Fourth Week of Regular Season Games.
September 23, 26-27:
Beginning on the day after a club’s fourth regular season game (including any bye week), it is permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness (if the player failed his preseason physical due to a non-football injury or illness) for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period, or prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period.
September 29, October 2-3:
Fifth Week of Regular Season Games.
October 6, 9-10:
Sixth Week of Regular Season Games.
Fall League Meeting, New York, NY.
October 13, 16-17:
Seventh Week of Regular Season Games.
October 20, 23-24:
Eighth Week of Regular Season Games.
October 27, 30-31:
Ninth Week of Regular Season Games.
Week one of bye week season. Eight teams will have a bye for the next four weeks.
Any increase in a player’s 2022 Salary from a renegotiation or extension that is received by the Management Council after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on this day, will be treated as Signing Bonus, and prorated over the entire term of the Player Contract, including 2022.
All trading ends for 2022 at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
Players with at least four previous pension-credited seasons are subject to the waiver system for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.
November 3, 6-7:
Tenth Week of Regular Season Games.
Week two of bye week season. Eight teams on a bye.
At 4:00 p.m., New York time, signing period ends for Franchise Players who are eligible to receive Offer Sheets.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for Clubs to sign their unsigned Franchise and Transition Players, including Franchise Players who were eligible to receive Offer Sheets until this date. If still unsigned after this date, such players are prohibited from playing in NFL in 2022.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for Clubs to sign their Restricted Free Agents, including those to whom the “June 1 Tender” was made. If such players remain unsigned after this date, they are prohibited from playing in NFL in 2022.
November 10, 13-14:
Eleventh Week of Regular Season Games.
Week three of bye week season. Eight teams on a bye.
November 17, 20-21:
Twelfth Week of Regular Season Games.
Week four of bye week season. Eight teams on a bye.
Deadline at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the last business day prior to a club’s Week 13 game for reinstatement of players in Reserve List categories of Retired, Did Not Report, and Exclusive Rights, and of players who were placed on Reserve/Left Squad in a previous season.
Two Thanksgiving Day Games:
Dallas to host another NFC East team.
Pittsburgh vs Baltimore. Home team rotates each year.
I say two games because it would allow College Football to jump in and grab two slots for rivalry games. Wouldn’t you rather see The Iron Bowl, USC Notre Dame, The Backyard Brawl, The Egg Bowl, The Game, Nebraska Oklahoma, Texas Texas A&M, The World’s Largest Cocktail Party, The Holy War, etc instead of the Detroit Lions? Take two of those big time College Football matchups and throw them in the mix and move on.
Black Friday Game. Because why not? Also don’t tell me Amazon wouldn’t pay top dollar to host a Black Friday broadcast. With all the advertising they’d throw out there I’m surprised we don’t have one yet.
2022 Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies.
Hall of Fame Game. Night game to be played by division rivals each year at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Thirteenth Week of Regular Season Games.
December 1, 4-5:
Fourteenth Week of Regular Season Games.
NFLMC Labor Seminar, Four Seasons-Las Colinas, Irving, TX.
Special League Meeting, Four Seasons-Las Colinas, Irving, TX.
Deadline for all Clubs to submit their individual lists of players who received, or filed a grievance for, the Basic or Extended Injury Protection Benefit for the 2022 season.
December 8, 11-12:
Fifteenth Week of Regular Season Games.
December 15, 17-19:
Sixteenth Week of Regular Season Games.
Week one of Fan All Star voting. (To compete in events between Championship game week and the Super Bowl)
Week one of Fan Season Ending Awards voting. Fans will vote in stadium and online for season ending rewards. (MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, All Pro Team)
December 22, 24-26:
Seventeenth Week of Regular Season Games.
Week two of Fan All Star voting.
Week two of Fan Season Ending Awards voting.
December 29, January 1-2:
Eighteenth Week of Regular Season Games.
Week three of Fan All Star voting.
Week three of Fan Season Ending Awards voting.
A claiming period of 24 hours shall be in effect for any waivers requested during the period from the Saturday of the final regular season weekend through the conclusion of the final postseason game, except for waiver requests on Friday and Saturday of each week, which shall expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the following Monday. Assignment of player contracts will be deferred until the first business day after the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl, whichever occurs later.
Terminations of player contracts will occur at the expiration of the claiming period. A club that is participating in the playoffs may sign players whose contracts have been terminated to its Active/Inactive List, Practice Squad, or Reserve/Future List. A club whose playing season has concluded may sign such players to its Reserve/Future List only.
Nineteenth Week of Regular Season games.
Week four(Final week) of Fan All Star voting.
Week four(Final week) of Fan Season Ending Awards Voting.
If you’re keeping score you’ll see that we’ve lost a week of preseason and added an 18th game in the regular season. Not only will this game sell more tickets league wide but the networks will have to cough up more money from broadcasting rights. Also there’s a trickle down effect… an extra regular season week means now there will be a Monday Night and Thursday Night football game week 17. It probably also allows the league to add more Saturday games late in the season. Financially it’s a no brainer.
Clubs may begin signing free agent players for the 2023 season.
Earliest permissible date for clubs to renegotiate or extend the Rookie Contract of a Drafted Rookie who was selected in any round of the 2020 College Draft or any Undrafted Rookie who signed in 2021. Any permissible renegotiated or extended Player Contract will not be considered a Rookie Contract, and will not be subject to the rules that limit Rookie Contracts.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must provide the Management Council with written notice, signed by the individual club’s owner, indicating the amount, if any, of the club’s 2022 League Year Salary Cap Room to be credited to the club’s 2023 Team Salary.
Wild Card Games
Special Eligibility Deadline. Deadline for college players who are underclassmen to apply for Special Eligibility. A list of underclassmen who have been approved for entry into the 2023 College Draft will be sent to clubs on January 20.
Divisional Playoff Games.
AFC & NFC Championship Games.
Deadline for any player claiming the Extended Injury Protection Benefit for the 2023 season to notify his former Club in writing.
Deadline for non-playoff clubs to submit their individual lists of Physician-Certified 2023 Basic Injury Protection Benefit Candidates to the Management Council.
January 30-February 5:
All Star Week Skills Competition Challenges. (Pro Bowl discontinued)
Super Bowl LVII (State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)
Waiver system begins for 2023. A 24-hour claiming period will be in effect through the Friday prior to the last regular season game (waiver requests made on Friday and Saturday of each week will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the following Monday.) Players with at least four previous pension-credited seasons whom a club desires to terminate are not subject to the waiver system until after the trading deadline.
Beginning the first business day after the Super Bowl through the opening of the first training camp for Rookies in 2023, clubs must report all tryouts and visits to the League office; however, such transactions will not be reported to other clubs.
Deadline for playoff clubs to submit their individual lists of Physician-Certified 2023 Basic Injury Protection Benefit Candidates to the Management Council.
Beginning this date through 4:00 p.m., New York time on March 7 clubs may designate Franchise or Transition Players.
February 28–March 6:
NFL Scouting Combine (Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
College Pro Days Begin. Workouts of a school’s Pro Day-eligible players with players outside of the scheduled Pro Day activities are prohibited. Private dinners, meetings, interviews are permitted.
March 7-April 19:
Draft-Eligible Facility Visits Begin. Clubs permitted 30 non-local players for physical exams/visits; no on- field workouts.
March 7-April 26:
Video or telephone interviews with draft-eligible players begin. Three video or telephone interviews per player; no longer than one hour in length.
Deadline for clubs (60 day after final regular season game) to conduct physical examinations pursuant to CBA Article 45, Section 7(a) for players claiming the Extended Injury Protection Benefit for the 2023 season.
Negotiation Period. During the period beginning at 12:00 noon, New York time, on March 13 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 15, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2022 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 15. During the above two-day negotiating period, a prospective UFA who is not represented by an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor is permitted to communicate directly with a new club’s front office officials (excluding the Head Coach and other members of the club’s coaching staff) regarding contract negotiations. No prospective Unrestricted Free Agent is permitted to execute a contract with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 15.
End/Start of League Year. Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2023 on all players who have option clauses in their 2022 contracts.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation. Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2022 contracts who have fewer than three Accrued Seasons of free agency credit.
Top 51 Rule is in effect. All clubs must be under the 2023 Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time. All 2022 NFL player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The 2023 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The first day of the 2023 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 15. Clubs will receive a Personnel Notice that will include all transactions submitted to the League office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 15.
Trading period for 2023. Trading begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2022 contracts.
Commencing at 4:00 p.m., New York time, Clubs may designate up to two Player Contracts that, if terminated on or prior to June 1, 2023, and if not renegotiated after January 9, 2023, shall be treated as if terminated on June 2, subject to the further requirements of CBA Article 13, Section 6(b)(ii)(1).
Deadline for all Clubs to submit their individual lists of Physician-Certified Candidates for the 2023 Extended Injury Protection Benefit.
Annual League Meeting (The Biltmore, Phoenix, AZ)
Deadline for clubs to meet 2023 funding requirements for guaranteed or deferred compensation in NFL Player Contracts and contracts for non-player Club employees.
Clubs that hired a new Head Coach after the end of the 2022 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
Clubs with returning Head Coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
Deadline for clubs to time, test, visit, interview, or conduct a physical examination with a draft-eligible player at its club facility.
Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
Deadline for Prior Club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.
Deadline for clubs to time, test, visit, interview (including video and phone calls), or conduct a physical examination with a draft-eligible player at any location.
Annual Selection Meeting/NFL Draft (Kansas City, MO)
Deadline for Prior Club to send “May 1 Tender” to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a Player Contract with a Club by July 22 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a Player Contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, at 4:00 p.m., New York time, only with his Prior Club.
Deadline for Clubs to exercise Fifth-Year Option for players selected in the first round of the 2020 Draft.
May 5-8 or May 12-15:
Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday on one of the two weekends following the Draft.
Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
May 18-21 (Tentative):
NFLPA Rookie Premiere.
Spring League Meeting.
Rinse and repeat. All in all it’s probably a point that’s moot since this is almost a lock to be the new schedule give or take a couple dates. No player, coach, or owner would bat an eye at this change. Fans also wont notice the difference once the season gets going. Plus, fans are so glued to their fantasy football teams this day and age that they’ll be happy just knowing they have one more week to stay alive in their league. Don’t get me started about how much more revenue through gambling and extra 16 games to bet on would bring in.
Feature photo: UPI