Lewis: Is expanded NFL season in works?

One day, the NFL Network won’t have to show multiple repeats of “Hard Knocks” to fill airtime during the “dead” part of the year.

Because there won’t be any.

Last week, the NFL announced that the 2014 draft will be May 8-10, two weeks later than has been the case since 1980, with the likelihood that the move will become permanent.

Plus, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that an 18-game regular season, an idea he’s floated in the past, is “on the table.” Just to emphasize that point, multiple dates for the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls are being held open.


More time for teams to poke and prod prospects and more time for fans to prove they know more about who and what their favorites need than the men who are actually paid to make those evaluations.

And two more Sundays immobilized in your chair by “The Red Zone.”

Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, maybe the ones directly involved.

Taking the second part first, the players have no enthusiasm about an expanded season, even with an accompanying rise in the salary cap.

“The whole thing about being a player in this league is longevity, and it’s hard enough stay healthy through 16 games and then hopefully the playoffs,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

“Two more games is a lot, especially when you have about 100 percent injury rate.

“More games would just give you more exposure at chances to get hurt. You’re looking at people’s livelihood and lots of other stuff.”

That would mean playoff berths being clinched earlier with top teams resting their starters in multiple late-season games, rendering them basically meaningless while fans of teams who are out of the playoff hunt lose interest earlier.

Not what the NFL wants, although an expanded playoff field might alleviate those concerns.

No matter.

It will only acerbate the injury situation. Far more players go on IR during the last two weeks of the season than do during the first two.

Drew Brees sees a hypocritical side to it.

“I think there’s a great contradiction in talking about player health and safety and talking about extending the season and increasing the chance for injury, especially with the toll the game takes on your body over the course of a 16-game season,” the Saints quarterback said. “I think that’s plenty.

“The system has worked very, very well with a 16-game season.”

With views like that, it’s hard to see the NFLPA giving its approval to expansion — unless money somehow sways things.

The switch in the draft is already a done deal. Supposedly it was because an Easter conflict with Radio City Music Hall next year, but draft analyst Mike Detillier sees it as way to move a high-interest event into Sweeps Month.

Maybe, but if Saints’ 2013 first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro had his way, the league would get it over with sooner rather than later.

“I was ready for it after the combine,” he said. “I feel sorry for guys having two more weeks of not knowing who their new team is going to be.”

Too bad.

This is the mighty NFL. Ultimately, it always gets its way.