…but he wants to remove two preseason games from the equation to balance everything out.

Makes sense on paper, yeah? More regular season games that actually mean something, fewer preseason games that mean nothing.

Speaking to a couple of Dallas media outlets this week, Jones explained that expanding the season and chopping off a couple of August games in exchange would be better for the players:

“I think candidly it’s probably physically better for players than it is to have the longer preseason, the longer practicing,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “Our studies show that we actually have a ramped-up injury situation with players during preseason as opposed to the injury factor in the regular season.”

You might remember Bob Kraft and Roger Goodell pushed this notion about eight seasons ago, then the lockout happened in 2011. Obviously it would be good for business and a lot of people around the game for the following reasons:

  • two more regular season games for each team = 32 total extra games = more TV and sponsorship revenue nationally and at the local level (SportsRadio 94 WIP, for instance, can sell two more games worth of Herrs potato chip commercials at a higher rate)
  • ESPN and other non-rights holders get an extra two weeks rating boost, more time to talk about fantasy football and whatnot
  • websites like this one get more traffic because people read everything about the Eagles
  • two more weeks of in-stadium merchandise and food/beverage sales (at increased volume because you’re selling out a regular season game and not getting a half-assed preseason crowd)
  • so on and so forth along those lines

For the players, then, the negatives are obvious. That’s eight more quarters of possibly suffering another concussion or leg injury or aggravating a strain or pull or something you picked up in week 5, 7, or 9. Your body cumulatively begins to feel the effects of each game, and that snowballs towards the back half of the schedule to the point where almost everybody is playing with some sort of knock. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Graham played the back-end of the season with a bum shoulder and ankle, respectively.

More from Jones, via Sports Illustrated:

Jones said it is “debatable” whether or not an 18-game regular season would really “create a safer game for the players” but added that he did use that reasoning when he lobbied for a longer regular season previously.

“My solution is real simple, cut back on preseason games,” Jones said. “Have one at each team’s home, play a couple of them and then add two games to the regular season, which I’ve been a proponent of for several years. That’s a better equity or a better way of players using what they bring to the table, their talents, their skills, their professional time in pro sports. That’ll give them a bigger pay day that’s fair. The other thing it does is it certainly gives our fans what we all think they deserve and that is a competitive game.”

So the key for the players and the NFLPA is this: what can they achieve at the bargaining table?

How much more money can they get out of an expanded season? How enticing is the prospect of limiting summer practice sessions? Do you push for more CTE research money or even tread into the national anthem and player rights territory as a bargaining chip? How about getting rid of Thursday night games, guaranteeing health care for 10-20 years after you retire, and providing more long-term guarantees to ex-players?

It’s worth thinking about, but Jones is a little off-base when he suggests morphing two summer games into regular season games. Because even if you lop ’em off that way, players aren’t getting the same exact workload. Teams are already holding out their guys in the preseason as it is. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t played a preseason game this year because he doesn’t have to. But you definitely expect him to play 18 regular season games. So instead of Zeke playing 0 preseason games and 16 regular season games for a total of 16, he might be playing 0 preseason games and 18 regular season games for a total of 18. And those are full, 60 minute games, not glorified walk-throughs where you’re pulled after two or three drives. Add the playoffs to that, which shouldn’t be a concern for the Cowboys, and you’re looking at 19 or 20 games, all the way up to 22 if a wild card team would go on to the Super Bowl.

Players would be getting more of a workload.

The other thing to consider is when those games are played. Do you add them to the beginning of the season and start on August 26th? Nobody is trying to play in the Miami or Tampa heat in August. Likewise, if you extend the back-half of the season, who wants to run around Lambeau on January 14th? And who wants to play the Super Bowl one week after Valentine’s Day?

I know people read comments from guys like Jones and Kraft and think it’s just a couple of rich white guys trying to become richer, but it’s not unreasonable for NFL players to think about this idea and really study whether it makes sense for them. NFL careers are short, and if you’re a running back who is only going to be in the league for a few seasons, would you make more money and secure your future in a better way by playing four 18-game seasons or four 16-game seasons? The counterpoint to that is guaranteeing a contract, which NFL teams are not required to do. Maybe you put that on the bargaining table and say, “sure, I’ll play 18 games, but if you’re making more money off of me, I want to be given every dollar of my three year, $6 million contract.

The point, I guess, is that it’s probably myopic to just outright dismiss the topic whenever it comes up. Of course Roger Goodell and the owners want to make more money. ESPN and FOX and NBC and CBS would jump right in on that. But if the players can get adequate return by sitting down at the bargaining table and moving forward on any number of key issues, then it’s something definitely worth considering.