The NFL has been talking off and on about creating an 18-game schedule. There would likely be one more bye involved, but they have not gotten into a lot of detail due to reasonable push-back from the union. While I don't think an 18-game schedule will happen any time soon, there are some creative ways to adjust the schedule that could lead to more revenue.
Friend of the site Melissa Jacobs, formerly founder of The Football Girl and currently NFL editor for SI.com put together a fun way to change up the schedule in a big way. In her weekly Sunday column, she discussed the idea of a 22-week schedule that would still only include 16 games, but would add various bye weeks. It would give the NFL actual game coverage until early March, help keep players relatively fresh, and give us so many more weeks of impactful football.
If you check out the schedule, every team would play segments of two or three games followed by a bye. It would include a "winter break" in December that would include a Pro Bowl skills competition. The regular season would still start in early September, but end in early February, followed by the normal playoff schedule.
This will not be happening any time soon, but it's a fun thought exercise. Some benefits include eliminating the Pro Bowl and keeping players fresh. For the NFL, even without increase the number of games played, the league likely can boost their TV revenue because there are that many more weekends with games. I don't know that it gets the NFL quite to that magical $25 billion figure Melissa mentions, but I can see the boost in revenue. And it provides players with more football season to develop endorsement opportunities. All while playing the same amount of games. We're talking about a potential financial boost for both owners and players.
I'm not holding my breath for it, but it's a fun idea for ways to change up the schedule, all while helping both players and owners. What do you think? Give it a read here.