Imagine the Raiders and 49ers facing off in a pivotal Week 12 matchup. Instead of seeing healthy quarterbacks Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo play, you get Mike Glennon and C.J. Beathard starting under center for Oakland and San Francisco, respectively.
That apparently could be a possibility if the NFL owners get their way in the next collective bargaining agreement.
During recent CBA negotiations, the owners proposed an 18-game schedule, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday (H/T Pro Football Talk). "But the players resisted their pitch," according to The Journal, and the owners also proposed "limiting players to 16 games, to assuage health and safety concerns."
The Journal noted that the two additional regular-season games "could be a boon" replacing half of the four-game preseason, with the paper reporting that an NFLPA analysis showed two games could add up to $2.5 billion in annual revenue.
Still, under the owners' reported proposal of mandating in-season bye weeks for players, it's hard not to feel like the NFL would be adding fans' least-favorite part of preseason games into games with standings consequences. Is Brian Hoyer quarterbacking the New England Patriots in the middle of the season -- not the end in which New England has the AFC East locked up again -- as Tom Brady sits healthy on the sideline going to feel like a regular-season game to fans in attendance?
Such a move would open multiple cans of worms. How do coaches stagger the two-game "rest" periods? Are there additional bye weeks? Who's exempt?
The players see the built-in byes as unrealistic, The Journal reported. And if those byes aren't there, the player's union estimated that two additional regular-season games "would reduce the average career span from 3.3 years to 2.8 years," the story said.
The owners proposed an 18-game season during the last round of CBA negotiations that led to the lockout, and reportedly want it back on the table again. The players, meanwhile, reportedly are focusing on "practical changes that improve the quality of life" for the nearly 60 percent of its members who are on minimum contracts.
The CBA is set to expire after the 2020 season, and The Journal reported that both sides are scheduled for another bargaining session next week.