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There’s a lingering sense the NFL still wants to get to 18 regular-season games

When immersed within the NFL universe for multiple days, you pick up a few things. Here’s one thing I picked up this time around.

The push to 18 regular-season games hasn’t been abandoned, health and safety concerns be damned.

The first hint of it came when Browns G.M. Andrew Berry explained on PFT Live that Cleveland and other teams are proposing a delay of the trade deadline by 14 days, from the Tuesday after Week 8 to the Tuesday after Week 10. Berry said that one week was aimed at accounting for the extra week created by the 17th regular-season game — and that the second week was in anticipation of further expansion of the regular season, to 18 games.

That happened on Tuesday. In talking to folks after that, I mentioned Berry’s plan, with the anticipation of another game. The reaction was, basically, “Yeah. That’s coming.”

It likely won’t come until the next labor deal. And the league will likely have the same determination then that it had four years ago, when it was clear that the league wanted an extra game badly enough to lock out the players, like the NFL did in 2011.

On one hand, the players share in the extra money that comes from playing extra games. On the other hand, how many more games can the human body endure?

At one point when the NFL wanted to go straight from 16 to 18, someone floated the idea of 18 games with players appearing in a maximum of 16 each. Maybe the 18th game comes with a caveat that, in addition to a bye, no player can play more than 17 regular-season games. (There probably would be an exception for quarterbacks, kickers, punters, and long snappers.)

Regardless, the NFL has good reasons to increase inventory. It’s another weekend of TV windows — which means another weekend of TV money. Also, it’s more stuff on which folks can bet, bet, bet. Which further feathers the nest of owners, both through sponsorships and their ability to own up to five percent of any. company with sports betting operations.

So, ready or not, here it comes. Eighteen regular-season games. Two preseason games.

The question then will be whether the league will eventually if not inevitably try to go with 20 games and no preseason.