The NFL is officially moving to a 17-game schedule starting in 2021, the league announced Tuesday. League owners unsurprisingly agreed to the change, which was originally put on the table in 2020 as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Ever since it was agreed upon that 2021 would be the first chance for the schedule expansion to happen, it was widely expected to become a reality.
The NFL Players Association tweeted Tuesday that, as part of the agreement to play 17 games, players will receive a “larger guaranteed share of revenues, a media kicker, better benefits, higher minimum salaries and additional reductions to time at work.” The NFLPA also acknowledged that because the players will be getting a larger share of revenues, they will benefit more from the increased revenues that come from new media deals in the future.
Along with the official announcement that 2021 would feature 17-game schedules came the finalization of each team’s extra opponent. The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers will now have a ninth road game, as they will head to Indianapolis for a matchup against the Colts. The last time the two teams met was two seasons ago in Tampa, with the Bucs winning 38-35 on the back of 456 yards and four touchdown passes from Jameis Winston.
The defending champs are coming to town.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) March 30, 2021
With Indianapolis added to the mix, Tampa Bay’s 2021 slate now looks like this:
Home: Cowboys, Giants, Bills, Dolphins, Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Bears
Away: Eagles, Washington Football Team, Patriots, Jets, Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Rams, Colts
Of course, the NFL’s full schedule will be announced at a later date. But we know that as the defending champions—and Tom Brady’s team—the Bucs are sure to have another schedule full of primetime games this fall. Now, let’s just hope that by September, Buccaneer fans will be able to (safely) pack Raymond James Stadium to welcome home their team as the title defense begins.
So, given that we don’t know the order of the schedule quite yet, what are your predictions for how it will shake out, Bucs Nation? Which games look like primetime picks and which ones are you looking forward to most in 2021? Let us know what you think in the comments down below!