Cowboys' Jerry Jones Wants NFL to Play 18 Games, Doesn't Envision 20-Game Schedule

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 20: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looks on before the NFL preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers on August 20, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is hopeful that further expansion of the NFL regular-season schedule is forthcoming.

Appearing Friday on 105.3 The Fan (h/t Jon Machota of The Athletic), Jones expressed his belief that while a 20-game regular season is unlikely, an 18-game season could and should happen: "I don't see that. That's too many. One more, I see, and I'm a big proponent of it. … I'd like to play two preseason games and 18 regular-season games."

With the exception of the 1982 and 1987 strike-shortened seasons, the NFL schedule consisted of four preseason games and 16 regular-season games per team from 1978 to 2020.

That changed last season with each team now playing three preseason contests and 17 regular-season games over the course of 18 weeks.

As part of collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2020, it was agreed that the regular season could be expanded by one game in exchange for eliminating one preseason game, and that was put into action last season.

Additionally, each conference now has only one team receiving a bye in the playoffs, as the playoff field was expanded from six teams per conference to seven.

The current CBA runs until 2030, meaning it may be several years before another regular-season game is added, if it happens at all.

When the NFL signed new television rights deals with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and Amazon last year, the contracts added up to a total of over $110 billion, per Ken Belson and Kevin Draper of the New York Times.

The new contracts will begin in 2023 and run through 2033, which is another potential target year for schedule expansion.

If the NFL can add one regular-season game per team by the time the next television rights negotiations take place, it would go a long way toward giving the league even more leverage and the ability to land a bigger deal.

NFL owners will undoubtedly be in favor of such a change, but it may not be such an easy sell for the players.

Players could demand higher salaries in order to account for another regular-season week, or they could push for a second bye week for each team.

Regardless of when or if it happens, it seems inevitable that further schedule-expansion talks will happen over the course of the next eight to 10 years.