For Roger Goodell, playoff expansion isn't a matter of if, but when. While expanded playoffs are bound to happen in the near future, that move won't come to fruition just yet.
The NFL commissioner revealed that the league won't expand its playoff structure for the 2014 season. Thursday Night Football is more of a priority for the immediate future, per NFL: Around the League:
Goodell confirms no playoff expansion for 2014. Primary reason: focusing on building Thursday Night Football for now.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) May 20, 2014
However, Goodell did mention that 2015 might be the year that the postseason adds more teams, per Newsday's Rob Glauber:
Roger Goodell on expanded playoffs: "I do believe it will be approved for 2015."— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) May 20, 2014
This raises a couple of issues.
First, it goes against the idea of player safety. Adding more games, especially at the end of the season, when guys have already withstood a 16-game regular season, would seem to put the players' health in jeopardy.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, have talked about playoff expansion:
Goodell says he spoke to DeMaurice Smith two weeks ago on the expanded playoffs “and he didn’t even mention” Worker’s Comp.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 20, 2014
The NFLPA has yet to receive any sort of formal proposal, though, per NFL.com's Albert Breer:
Roger Goodell says he spoke to DeMaurice Smith about expanded playoffs two weeks ago. NFLPA says it still hasn't gotten a formal proposal.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 20, 2014
Goodell will undoubtedly have push-back from the union when he takes more concrete steps toward increasing the number of postseason games. Getting the players on his side will be tough to do initially.
The other issue with playoff expansion is the prospect of watering down the competition. As Benjamin Allbright pointed out, almost 38 percent of the league already makes the postseason as it is:
I am 100% against playoff expansion. 37.5% of the league already gets in to the NFL Playoffs. Don't make it like the NBA...— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) May 20, 2014
Are you in favor of postseason expansion for the NFL?
At what point does getting a playoff spot become too easy?
Since this idea is only in the formative stage, a lot could change over the coming weeks and months. Goodell is almost trying to brace the public and his constituents for the movement that is about to come.
Too much money is on the line to not have playoff expansion happen at some point down the road, whether it's in 2015, 2016 or sometime thereafter. Goodell is constantly looking for new streams of revenue, and adding postseason games is one of the easiest ways to do so.