NFL Likely To Expand Playoffs For '15, Could Experiment With Extra Point In '14 Preseason
It is "probably a matter of when, not if," the NFL expands its playoffs, and "more likely than not, the league will add two playoff teams" in time for the '15 season, according to sources cited by Peter King of THE MMQB. Sources said that the league would be "inclined toward one team in each conference getting a first-week bye in the postseason." This would "mean six wild-card games instead of four, with at least one of them likely moving to Monday night" (MMQB.SI.com, 3/17). In DC, Mark Maske cited sources as saying that, as of yesterday, there was "no formal proposal on that to be presented to the owners next week" at the annual league meetings, so "no vote is currently planned." Meanwhile, owners "likely will consider a change to the sport’s instant replay system" at the meetings. Sources said that owners could "vote on a proposal" that would "enable the referee to be in contact with members of the league office during in-game replay reviews." The "likely proposal to the replay system would enable the referee to receive guidance from members of the league office in New York before making a ruling on a review." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell previously has "mentioned the possibility of allowing the league office to be involved in replay rulings and the competition committee has been studying the issue." The sources said that the league also "might experiment with a longer extra point during a week of preseason games but no change to the extra point is expected" for the '14 regular season (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/17).
CAPPING IT OFF: USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero notes NFL teams in the first week of free agency "had handed out" nearly $700M in guaranteed contract money as of yesterday morning. That is "thanks in part" to a salary cap that increased to $133M. But NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth and "other union leaders have remained cautious about altering the message they have used all along." NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith said, "When we saw the growth in the cap, were we happy for our players? Yes. But we didn't restructure a salary cap deal. We structured a collective bargaining agreement that addresses wages, benefits and working conditions." Pelissero notes the CBA includes "minimum cash spending limits, which kicked in on a team-by-team basis over a four-year rolling average of 89% last year." That might "help explain why the second wave of free agency seemed to come more quickly ... than a year ago, when the cap rose less than 2%" to $123M and "criticism intensified of players' take from the NFL's record revenue" (USA TODAY, 3/18). THE MMQB's King wrote after three years of a "stalled market, free agency finally works." One team exec said that the "real win for the players in the 2011 CBA won’t be the increase in the cap over the next few years ... but rather the minimum spending rules." In past years, owners "had a salary cap, but many didn’t spend anywhere near it. Now they have to" (MMQB.SI.com, 3/17).