While the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the Players Association has provided labor peace for the next decade and provides benefits to both players and owners, there will be some changes that fans will see as well.
Here's a look at how the game will be different this coming fall and beyond.
1. A 17-game regular season
The new CBA paves the way for a 17-game regular season beginning as early as the 2021 league year. Since 2002 there have been 256 games of regular season inventory. Once the 17-game schedule is approved there will be 272.
Naturally, with an uneven number of regular season games, a formula will have to be devised to determine which divisions or conferences will have nine home games and which will have eight home games, and how to fairly alternate those games respecting the value of home field advantage.
2. Expanded playoffs
Now instead of 12 total playoff teams (six in the AFC and NFC) there will be a total of 14 as there will now be a seventh postseason qualifier in each conference starting in 2020. This also means that only the top seed in each conference will get a bye week for the first round of the postseason. The two seed will now play in Wild Card week against the newly added seventh seed.
3. Expanded rosters
The 53-man active roster for all intents and purposes remains the same, but the practice squad for clubs will increase from 10 to 12 players beginning in 2020. Practice squads can increase to a maximum of 14 beginning in 2022.
Game day active players will also go up from 46 players to 48. The only stipulation is a total of eight players must be offensive linemen. If a team does dress fewer than eight offensive linemen, they may only dress 47.
Clubs also have the option to temporarily increase their roster to 54 or 55 players with a practice squad call up provided that player or players immediately are reverted to the team's practice squad on the team's next business day after a game.
4. Reduced preseason
Once the 17-game schedule is implemented (as early as 2021) it will also reduce the preseason from four to three games.
The language of the CBA stipulates that if the regular season increases to 17 games, that the total number of games for a club cannot exceed 20 total games (preseason and regular season combined).
5. More games overseas
In 2019, there were five international games staged by the NFL. Now with 16 more regular season games to be added as soon as 2021, the new CBA allows for a maximum of 10 games to be played outside the US during the regular season.