Unwrapping NFL's Proposed CBA Changes and How They Impact Seahawks

CorbinSmithNFL

After months of deliberation, NFL owners and the players association appear to be closing in on a groundbreaking new collective bargaining agreement, which could be ratified as early as next week.

Among several details leaked from the latest proposal by owners, including expanding the regular season to 17 games and shortening the preseason to three games, the NFL would alter its playoff structure for the first time since 2002.

Both conferences would have seven playoff teams instead of six, which would create a revised schedule featuring six games on wild card weekend. As part of the proposal, only one team from each conference would receive a first-round bye as opposed to the two that currently do.

These changes are expected to be effective immediately in 2020, as long as the CBA is ratified beforehand. The 17-game proposal may still be the biggest sticking point, as well as the fact players such as Tyler Lockett and Quandre Diggs still don't seem too happy about the fact owners still receive more than 50 percent of the league's revenue.

Out of all of the proposals shared publicly to this point, the change in playoff structure could be the most significant.

While an argument can be made expanding the playoff field waters down the field by rewarding mediocre teams, both owners and players would financially benefit from the arrangement. Extra playoff games mean extra revenue, which has also been the central argument for expanding the regular season to 17 games.

For historical context, since conference realignment in 2002, the Seahawks have made the playoffs 13 times, including eight of the past 10 seasons under coach Pete Carroll. In the five seasons the franchise missed the postseason, they never finished higher than ninth in the NFC, so none of those teams would have benefited from this change.

But that doesn’t mean Seattle couldn’t take advantage of an additional playoff team being added to the field in the future. In fact, playing in the brutal NFC West, it improves their odds of getting in as a wild card team if they can’t recapture the division crown next season.

However, when it comes to pursuing Lombardi Trophies, home field advantage and first-round byes have been critical to advance to the Super Bowl. Just this last season, Kansas City and San Francisco both earned byes and won two home playoff games to make it to Miami.

From Seattle’s perspective, the team has never advanced past the division round without earning one of the top two seeds in the NFC. In each of their three Super Bowl trips since the turn of the century, the Seahawks have been the No. 1 seed with home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

As the biggest flaw of this proposed format, only one team from each league would benefit from a bye week. Without the opportunity for a second team to earn a week off, the regular season won’t feel quite as important, as the bulk of playoff teams will be playing on wild card weekend regardless of seeding.

Though more teams hovering around .500 will have a chance to make the playoffs late in the season, some of the drama created by the push for bye weeks will dissipate. That’s not necessarily good for fans and that’s not good for the NFL. It just feels like an unnecessary change to a system that isn’t broken.

But since the NFL is a bottom line business, it shouldn’t come as a surprise owners are pushing for additional playoff games. And while players have been resistant to an expanded regular season, there’s no way they’ll pass up on the chance to cash in with more playoff teams, so it seems inevitable both changes will be part of the new CBA whenever it finally is approved.

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