The Washington Post

Expanded NFL playoff field not ruled out in future years, just in 2013

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t ruling out future expansion of the playoffs (Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

The NFL’s notion of possibly expanding its playoff field has not been abandoned for future years even though it will not be implemented for the 2013 season, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday.

“Now we have a little bit of work to do before we can advance it,” Goodell said at the annual league meeting, being held at a Phoenix resort. “It clearly won’t be happening for this year, if there was any doubt about that.”

The league’s competition committee studied the issue but will not make a recommendation to the owners about it at this meeting. Under the plan, one or two teams would be added to the playoff field in each conference. Such an expansion of the playoff potentially could be accompanied by a reduction in the preseason from four games per team to two.

“The competition committee looked at some of the issues and identified those issues,” Goodell said. “They’re things that we will now take and put into consideration and probably have some discussions with the union at some point in time to get their views on, ‘Does this make sense?’ But I think the information when I met with the competition committee [Sunday] was helpful for us in our consideration.”

The league likewise is not taking any action this week on proposed changes to its offseason calendar. The league apparently would like to move back the NFL scouting combine, the start of free agency and the draft.

But the changes would have to be ratified by the owners and the players’ union. The union appears opposed to later free agency because players would have to wait longer to find out where they’ll be playing the following season.

Goodell said he was waiting to hear from DeMaurice Smith, the union’s executive director.

“We presented an alternative calendar for the offseason,” Goodell said. “We think it makes a lot of sense. I think the players saw the benefits of doing that and they wanted to talk to their membership, which they were doing last week at their meetings. I have not heard or gotten a report back from them about what the reaction is. But as soon as I speak to De, I’ll have a better understanding.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.



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Mark Maske · March 18, 2013