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Union proposes offeason changes to adapt to 18-game schedule

The NFL owners have made it no secret that they are eager to increase the regular season from 16 to 18 games.

The players aren't so sure, and it's clear the expanded schedule has become a central issue in talks on a new collective-bargaining agreement.

The NFL Players Association made a counterproposal to owners Tuesday, and it includes a major change to the current offseason schedule, according to an union source.

The union doesn't want any team activities to begin until June 15. That's a big change from current offseason format, in which teams begin offseason activities by mid-March.

The players union wants only rookies and first-year players at team headquarters for a two- or three-week orientation in the spring. Veterans wouldn't have to report until June 15. The union also would limit number of full-contact sessions.

In addition, the NFLPA wants two bye weeks, larger rosters and a potential expansion of practice-squad size, The Associated Press reported, citing a source familiar with the negotiations.

With the league preferring not to play on Labor Day weekend, the players' proposal could mean a Super Bowl in mid-February. This season's title game is scheduled for Feb. 6 in Arlington, Texas.

Current rosters are set at 53 and the players want at least four or five more spots. Coaches certainly will want to suit up more than the 45 and a third quarterback currently allowed.

Neither side has said when the next set of negotiations will be held. The owners have a meeting in Dallas in mid-December.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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