Roger Goodell: 'We Expect to Have Full Stadiums' for 2021 NFL Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2021

FILE - Commissioner Roger Goodell gestures during the NFL Honors ceremony as part of Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Fla., in this Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, file photo. The NFL is increasing the regular season to 17 games, as expected, and reducing the preseason to three games. Team owners on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, approved the 17th game, marking the first time in 43 years the regular season has been increased.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is planning for stadiums to be fully open to fans for the 2021 season.

"We want to see every one of our fans back," he told reporters Tuesday. "We expect to have full stadiums in the coming season."

Goodell also said he would be encouraging all league staff to get COVID-19 vaccinations:

Lindsay Jones @bylindsayhjones

Goodell said all NFL personnel will be encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and the league will use its platform to encourage the public to do the same. Goodell did not answer the part of my question about if vaccines will be required for fans to attend games in 2021.

The news comes on the same day that the NFL owners officially approved a 17-game regular season. The league will move to a three-week preseason, with the week that previously held a fourth preseason game now becoming a bye week, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post

The regular season will still include one bye week, while the postseason will be bumped back by one week. Here are the matchups that were added to the schedule on Tuesday:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Here are the added 17th games for the 2021 season, plus an outline of how the schedule works going forward: https://t.co/swfcHuTQa9

Moving to a 17-game season, with fans fully attending, will be a major boost to the NFL owners' bottom lines after every team took a financial hit in 2020. That, in turn, has left teams trimming around the margins this offseason, with a number of veterans taking restructured deals to provide short-term salary cap relief. 

Per ESPN, the 2021 salary cap sits at $182.5 million, an eight percent decrease from 2020 ($198.2 million). It's the first time since 2011 the cap didn't increase from the season prior, which again can be attributed to the realities of limited or no attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic last season.