SBD/February 22, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Competition Committee Talks Expanding Playoff Field From 12 To 14 Teams

NFL Competition Committee officials on Thursday at the scouting combine “spent some of their time discussing the possible expansion of the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams,” according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said the committee’s deliberations on the issue were in “still just the early stages.” Murphy said that it also was “not clear whether a proposal to expand the playoff field could generate sufficient support among the sport’s team owners to be enacted.” Murphy: “It’s hard to tell at this point.” Maske noted the possibilities include “expanding the playoff field by one team in each conference” or by four teams. Murphy: “I think there would be more support for one. Then you still have one team that would get a bye. In some ways, that might make that more valuable.” An expanded postseason “potentially also could be paired with a reduction in preseason games, perhaps from four to two per team.” Murphy: “You have to look at it in context. Will there be other changes tied into it? … I think they could (be paired together). I think so” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/21).

SAVE THE DATES: ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter cited sources as saying that the NFL is “proposing an overhaul to its offseason calendar, pushing back the combine to early March, the start of free agency to early April and the draft to early May.” The plan must be approved by the NFLPA, but the league "already is pushing it aggressively.” All NFL teams under the proposal “also would kick off training camp on the same summer day, making it the official launch of the football season” (ESPN.com, 2/21). Meanwhile, former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli noted there is a three-day window in March where teams can negotiate with free agents, and there is “something being created here whether we realize it or not.” Pioli: "What we’re creating here is this signing date for the NFL that’s going to become another made-for-TV event." Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio wondered if there could be free agent WR Mike Wallace “sitting there with the Dolphins hat, the Chiefs hat, the Bills hat, and he’s going to pick one up and he’s going to put it on.” Pioli: “It may be that, but it’s certainly going to be another opportunity for the NFL and its clubs to sell itself” (“PFT,” NBC Sports Network, 2/21).
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