The offseason is underway and the countdown to the 2021 season is on with the league set to release the NFL schedule in a matter of months. Things will be even better for football fans this year with even more action on the slate for 2021.
As teams prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft and free agency, league executives are closing in on new TV contracts that will bring in record-setting revenue, send the 2022 salary cap skyrocketing and brings unprecedented changes to the regular season. Once the deals with networks are done, the 2021 salary cap will be set and the real work for next season begins.
While fans are focused on the marquee events and dates on the NFL calendar that will define how teams look in 2021, one of the best days for the football world is right around the corner.
When will the 2021 NFL schedule be released?
The Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer reached out to the league and reported Thursday that the NFL schedule will likely be released in May. As of now, league officials are hoping that the full slate of games for the fall can be announced in the second week of May.
As Fischer notes, that would be the latest NFL schedule release to date. However, the league is dealing with more complications this spring that directly impact how the 2021 season will play out.
Right now, finalizing new contracts with broadcasting partners for the rights to NFL games through 2030 is the league’s biggest priority. Once the dotted lines are signed, with deals that will see networks like NBC, FOX and CBS pay double the fees they previously paid the NFL annually, the focus will shift towards outlining the 2021 season.
Coming off a year that saw the NFL lose nearly $3 billion in potential revenue, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, securing more money for future years is essential. These new contracts will help the league avoid a more drastic rollback of the salary cap ceiling this year, giving teams more financial flexibility to re-sign players and add top talent in free agency.
Related: Top 20 NFL free agents of 2022
After that happens, the NFL will likely announce its move to a 17-game schedule beginning next season. When the players’ union agreed to the new CBA last offseason, it granted owners the authority to add another game to the schedule starting in 2021. Obviously, the league took advantage of an opportunity to increase its profits.
Fans should be excited about the additional matchups. The creation of Week 18 means that some of the league’s best teams will face off, like the Kansas City Chiefs facing the Green Bay Packers next season. Each added interconference matchup will be determined by the divisional standings.
While May seems in the distant future, free agency, trades and the NFL Draft will help the time fly by. Once the NFL schedule drops, fans can get excited about all the top matchups and primetime games to watch this fall.