Changes could be on the horizon for the NFL’s preseason format.
The league is moving toward trimming its preseason schedule from four games per team (or five for the two squads that play in the Hall of Fame Game) to three or two in the coming years, potentially beginning with the 2021 preseason, according to a report Wednesday from Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
Bill Belichick seems to believe that would be a mistake.
Asked Friday morning whether he’d be in favor of shortening each team’s exhibition slate, the New England Patriots coach pointed to the importance Week 4 of the preseason — typically a poor product for fans — has for players on the roster bubble.
“I’m not going to get into all that,” Belichick said on a conference call one day after his team lost to the New York Giants 31-29 at Gillette Stadium in the preseason finale for both teams. “I think you can figure it out, you’re a smart guy.
“The more games you play, the more opportunities people have. Look at the Giants last night. If you want to cut out this game, then go ahead and cut it out, but it gave (quarterback Kyle) Lauletta a chance to play half the game. It gave (Alex) Tanney a chance to play half the game. It gave (Daniel) Jones a chance to play.
“So if you want to get rid of the game, then get rid of the game and don’t play those guys. Do whatever you want on that.”
Belichick’s point is valid: Lauletta, the fourth man on the Giants’ QB depth chart, attempted 40 passes against the Patriots after throwing 22 total over the first three weeks of the preseason. Some in New York might feel differently, however, as the Giants also lost six players to injury Thursday night.
The Patriots weren’t immune from those setbacks, either, with guard Hjalte Froholdt, cornerback Ken Webster and safety Malik Gant all leaving the game with injuries. Gant was the second Patriots player in two weeks to be carted off the field after Brandon King left during last Thursday’s win over the Carolina Panthers.
Potentially altering the preseason is one of many issues the NFL and NFL Players Association are negotiating as they attempt to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. If games are removed in August, the NFL could look to recoup revenue by expanding the regular season or postseason, with the latter being more likely, per the Post’s sources.
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