The MMQB podcast is back after a two-week summer break, covering Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon's contract stances, the feasibility of an 18-game season and a potential Giants-Lions blockbuster trade!
(Listen to the latest The MMQB NFL Podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Breer: News topic No. 1: The NFL and NFLPA will meet for three days this week to discuss new collective bargaining agreement the sides met in April May and June as they try to avoid a work stoppage in 2021. Before we get to the thing I really want to talk about here, I think one thing that's important to remember—there's been a lot of talk about the revenue split. This one is going to be a little more complicated than the last one. The way they did the last one—and this is really kind of the brainchild of Clark Hunt, who's the Chiefs owner—he put together this plan where the owners would take a much bigger percentage of the digital money, and the players would get a bigger percentage of the TV money. And this was in 2011. So at the time, the digital money wasn't going to be all that significant. If they roll that back and they do the same thing again, well now we're talking about the new broadcast deals coming up. You can have Netflix, you can have Hulu, you could have the Zone, whatever it is, the digital rights now could wind up being pretty significant. And so there are a lot of things from that standpoint that I think that they've got to work out—I mean, the biggest piece of this which is how you split up the revenue. That said, I think the most interesting thing that we've all been talking about the last couple of weeks is the idea again of going to the 18 games, which I don't think is going to happen, which I think is probably just the NFL owners deciding they want to create a chip out of nothing. Like, why not just kind of put this on the table, so we can take it off the table. But the idea of playing 16 games or making players eligible for 16 games and then playing an 18-game schedule I think is as asinine as it gets.
Vrentas: Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me. I think that's a great point about sort of planting something and having players get worked up about the 18 games, and then you feel like you're seeding on that team. Maybe they'll take that as a win. I still like the 19-week season with 17 games, two byes, and you reduce the preseason in half. So in exchange for having the extra game players get a second bye week. That could help you eliminate the short Sunday to Thursday turnaround. You also reduce the preseason which nobody likes. I still don't know if players would be game for that, but that to me is a decent compromise. You know Mark Murphy has talked publicly recently about the idea of the 17 games and then you make that 17th game a neutral-site game, either international or domestic, so that playoff teams aren't giving up home games to play in London— although the Jaguars do like that arrangement because of the gate revenues. But you know I think that's an interesting idea. I don't know. We haven't heard much about it. It seems like a reformatting of the season is unlikely.
Orr: It's always interesting to me when we talk about cutting down the preseason. I always just wonder if it's one of those deals where are you still harming sort of like the the lower and middle class like they were in the first CBA indirectly. I do think that cutting down practice time is great and cutting down the violence of practice is great. But then kind of washed into that was that whole narrative over the last decade, where you know there's a ton of people who aren't prepared to play and that aren't good enough to play and then thus down the road you can't create a living for themselves in the NFL. I think it's going to be interesting to see if they're willing to get creative about maybe exceptions for younger people that want to practice more, younger people that need more time with the coaches or anything like that. I mean that would be something that certainly I would be least interested in hearing somebody put down a proposal and say, hey there's a little bit of a crisis here to the point where people are lining up to create developmental leagues to fill a niche when we could just nip this in the bud right now.
Breer: So you're saying like you maybe create—and I know this has been discussed—but like create it like where maybe there's an extra five weeks the offseason program that's only for players with four years experience or last year or less.
And it's not mandatory but you know the coaches can get their hands on them you know. And and there's no restrictions there or anything like that.
And you know see if they I mean I hear the coaches on one end of this which is like, it's it's weird that like a guy wants to get better at his job and literally like has access to the best in the field. I'd like to help him get better and can't use that access as much as he wants. You know what I mean like how he wants to work extra and he can't use the access that he has to these people. Like I understand their side of the argument there that like these are very competitive people who want to get better. You have to like go on and hire personal coaches now and do different things to get themselves ready to play. The flipside of that is that it's the coach's fault for abusing it in the first place.
Breer: That's the double side of this—the coaches bear some responsibility.
Orr: Who’s the most notorious abuser of that power? Who is the guy who really got too deep in the weeds?
Breer: I would say back in the day it was probably Belichick.
Breer: They're very careful about the rules now. I don't know. I feel like there's always pressure on those guys though because there's no way to make that stuff totally voluntary. Because for the top five players on the team, they can blow it off, but if you're the 70th guy on the roster, you have to show up OTAs. Otherwise it's not the coaches aren't going to remember that. And beyond just that like you may be less prepare for training camp then, and that could put you at a disadvantage to try to win a job. So there is a competitive element to this that sort of self-regulates. So anyway I don't like the 18-game thing just because, I mean, the 16 game thing to me is is asinine just because...
Vrentas: 16 out of 18 games.
Breer: 16 out of 18. How are the networks going to feel if you're sitting a quarterback? How is NBC going to feel if you're sitting your quarterback on Sunday Night Football?
Orr: Deal with it, because people will watch! This is what drives me nuts—people watch what happens in the damn Pro Bowl!
So what happens the first time that you're sitting two offensive linemen and a quarterback gets hurt?
Vrentas: I see the offensive linemen situation, and I see the solution probably. But wouldn't you just pop the backup, play behind the backup?
Breer: Right. But then you're talking about having like almost like a split-squad, spring-training game situation with some of their games. And to me that's the NFL talking out of both sides of its mouth. On one side they're talking about taking away two preseason games because the quality of the game is no good. Then you can't say on the other side let's water down the regular season. If they really wanted to be a premium product the best players need to be out there.
Vrentas: It just it feels a little bit too convoluted to me.
Breer: That's why to me it almost has to be a chip. And I'm with you as far as the two byes. I think that makes the most sense if they really want to add inventory.
Orr: And if you can cut down the preseason guys open up training camps seriously to the public. Let them see training camp. More joint training camp practices available to everyone that wants to see them who can't afford to go to games.
Breer: I love that idea.
Orr: They're built for audiences anyway. You got to see the one-on-ones, and you get to see all the stuff that people want to see anyway.