“Today’s bargaining session focused on several matters, including the proposed 18-2 season format, rookie wage scale, and improvements for retired players,” the statement said. “Both sides are looking forward to continuing these discussions and reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.”

Several NFL sources have speculated that the 18-game schedule is being used as a bargaining chip by the players and could be the key to ultimately getting an agreement. The owners and the NFL commissioner clearly want the “18-2” format – 18 regular-season games and a reduction in preseason games from four to two. So far, players have mostly voiced their opposition.

But some players have also stated a willingness to play more games for more money. It’s possible they could agree to the extra games if the NFL backed off the 18% pay cut the NFLPA has said the league is asking players to take.

Of course, if Polian is to be believed, bargaining is futile. The 18-game season will be a reality.

“I think that the owners, and principally the commissioner, have decided that it’s the way to go,” Polian said on his radio show Monday night. “And so the debate, such as it was, is over.”

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