The NFL and NFLPA have reportedly expressed openness to expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams in new collective bargaining agreement talks.
Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Monday the two sides are considering the change to offset the loss of revenue caused by reducing the preseason to three games. No formal proposal on the issue has been made.
It's unclear how the additional playoff team in each conference would affect the playoff format. It seems likely that it would result in only the top team in each conference receiving a first-round bye.
The report also adds that players remain opposed to an expansion of the regular season, and it remains possible the league shortens the preseason without additional games being added. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman told NBC Sports' Peter King it's unlikely players would agree to an 18-game schedule.
"I think it has very little chance of happening unless something astronomical is conceded," Sherman said.
Preseason games do not tend to be revenue-generators for teams in a large sense, though season-ticket packages do often require fans to purchase tickets for those contests. Removing one game will cause a significant loss of revenue for both sides, which is why the NFL is exploring ways to recoup that money—and perhaps add a game of significance.
An expanded playoff system would give the NFL an extra bargaining chip when the next television contracts end. That may wind up being even more valuable to certain networks than an extra week of regular-season action.
The biggest issue remains the revenue split. Owners are to this point reportedly unwilling to make any major financial concessions. Players currently receive 47 percent of the league's total revenue, slightly less than the 50-50 split of the NBA and NHL.
The current CBA is set to expire in March 2021.