The NFL and the NFL Players' Association agreed to add an extra game to the regular-season schedule, starting in 2021. The regular season will now see each team play 17 games as opposed to 16. This will be the first change to the NFL's regular-season format since the 1978 season.
The preseason schedule will also be changed to accommodate the extra game. Starting this year, the NFL preseason will be shortened to three games from four.
NFL: Is a shorter preseason good or bad for the league?
Preseason is important for a large contingent of players in the NFL. Late-round draft picks, undrafted players and veterans need the majority of training camp and preseason games to impress the coaches and make it to the team's active roster. They’ll have one fewer chance to do that in 2021.
Many NFL players, though, are delighted by the shortening of the preseason as it lowers the odds of picking up an injury before the start of the new season. There have been instances in the past of players suffering career-altering injuries during the preseason.
In 1995, the Cincinnati Bengals selected running back Ki-Jana Carter with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. In his final college season for Penn State, Carter ran for an astounding 1,539 yards and scored 23 rushing touchdowns. He was destined for a bright future in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Carter tore his ACL in a preseason game in his rookie season and was never able to live up to the hype after returning to the field.
Conversely, there have been other players who have used the preseason as a springboard to very successful NFL careers. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott just signed a lucrative extension with the team, but his impressive career kickstarted after his stellar performances in the 2016 preseason.
Incumbent starter Tony Romo went down with a back injury, paving the way for the young rookie out of Mississippi State to show the team and the league the type of player he was. Prescott played like a seasoned veteran in the 2016 preseason, showing the Cowboys that he could be their leader under center for years to come.
He had a passer rating of over 150 in two out of his three games, and threw multiple touchdown passes in those games. He excelled in the early part of the regular season that year and has never looked back.