Though it hasn’t officially been adopted by the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Team President Art Rooney II essentially confirmed the league will move to a 17-game season in 2021. That’s what he said in a fan question and answer session over on Steelers’ Nation Unite.
AR2 says this will be the first year for a 17-game schedule with one less preseason games #Steelers
— Steelers Depot 🧐 (@Steelersdepot) March 25, 2021
The NFL is fully expected to pass the resolution during league meetings in the coming weeks. It will be the first expansion of the regular season schedule since the league moved from 14 to 16 games for the start of the 1978 season.
For Pittsburgh, their 17th game will be a contest against the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers last played them in 2019, losing not only the game but Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury.
The new CBA allowed flexibility for when football would add a 17th game. But owners are obviously jumping on the chance now, especially coming off a year where revenues tanked due to the COVID pandemic.
To compensate, as expected, the league will reduce the number of preseason games from four to three. This will hurt undrafted and young players’ chances of making the roster but it’s something veterans and established players overwhelmingly advocate for. One fewer preseason game is one less chance to get hurt and one game they don’t have to put their bodies through.