The NFL confirmed Tuesday that the league is adding an additional game to its schedule beginning in 2021 and will play an expanding 17-game schedule moving forward.
The league and team owners have been eyeing a 17-game schedule for several years but faced pushback from the Player’s Association. However, the new collective bargaining agreement signed between owners in players in 2020 allowed the league the option to expand the season 17 games beginning in the 2021 season.
"This is a monumental moment in NFL history," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. "The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans."
The league also announced the additional opponents each team would face in 2021, and also released the schedule guidance by which the matchups will be selected moving forward.
Here are the added 17th games for the 2021 season, plus an outline of how the schedule works going forward: pic.twitter.com/swfcHuTQa9— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 30, 2021
Teams will continue to have only bye week under the 17-game schedule.
As part of the new schedule format, the NFL also announced that every team will play in an international game once every eight years. The league has been holding games in London for about a decade, and attempted to play games in Mexico City in 2019 and 2020 before canceling them for field issues and the pandemic, respectively.
The announcement marks the first time since the 1978 expansion to a 16 game schedule that the NFL has added games to a season. Prior to 1978, the NFL held 14 game schedules.