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NFL schedule expands to 17-game regular season

Teams will be swapping one game that doesn't count for an extra one that will.

Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates victory in Super Bowl LV
Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates his team's win in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

America's most popular professional sports league is adding another week of action to its regular-season schedule, but not everyone in the NFL is rejoicing.

The NFL announced Tuesday that its 2021 regular season will feature all 32 teams playing 17 games, up from 16, for the first time. The 2021 preseason will be reduced from four games to three to ensure the new playing schedule adheres to the terms of the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players union.

"This is a monumental moment in NFL history," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a statement.

The news comes on the heels of the announcement of major new broadcasting deals between the league and the big networks, as well as Amazon, set to be the main home of Thursday Night Football for a decade.

The move to add a game to the NFL regular season has been in the works for several years and became all but inevitable when the latest agreement with the players, finalized in 2020, included the option to expand as soon as this year.

While the union agreed to adding the game, there are concerns that a longer regular season could increase injuries to players, and some have spoken out, including New Orleans Saints star running back Alvin Kamara. On Twitter he called the move "dumb... as hell."

This is the first time the NFL has changed its schedule since moving to a 16-game season in 1978. The 2021 regular season will begin Thursday, Sept. 9.