Here was the part that grabbed my attention:
"The NFL still is looking at different formats for the split of regular-season and preseason games -- 18-and-2, 16-and-2 or 17-and-3. The league will examine this year's preseason to figure it out.
"The NFL will look at how much starters play, how the lineups are configured and fan reaction, particularly with the fourth and final preseason game."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken plenty about wanting to improve the preseason, but it's telling that the door has yet to be shut on the 18-game schedule possibility. Around The League contacted the NFL Players Association on Thursday about the report.
"We have not been approached about a change in the season," NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah said. "We know the owners have wanted 18 games for a long time and as everyone knows, tried using a lockout to get it."
The 17-and-3 combination is one we haven't heard much about before, and Rapoport's note about studying the fourth preseason game points toward the possible elimination of that game in the future.
The signing of the collective bargaining agreement quieted this conversation for a couple years, but it's fair to expect it to re-emerge. The idea of shortening the preseason is unlikely to go away until the product improves.