ORLANDO – The NFL owners opted not to vote on expanding the playoff field, but that doesn't mean the issue is completely dead for the upcoming season, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday morning.
"It's not out of the question, but we did not make that decision at all," Goodell said. "We have more work to do. I wouldn't rule it out but that's not the direction we are headed right now."
But it was clear to Goodell here in Orlando that the idea is gaining significant traction.
"We had a good discussion on the floor with owners and other executives this week. I think there is a tremendous amount of interest in it, possibly even to the point of support," Goodell said. "But there are things we still need to make sure we do right."
Among those steps is discussion the potential addition of two more playoff teams with the NFL Players Association at a meeting on April 8, and talks with the various television networks that have contracts to broadcast playoff games.
The issue will return to the agenda of the next set of league meetings in May.
"We have been very incremental in this, and we believe competitively it could make our races toward the end of the year even more exciting, with more teams vying for playoff position," Goodell said. "We still want to do some additional work."
There is support from the coaching ranks to expand the playoffs as well.
"It's going to be good for the game," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "It's good for players, good for fans. It's going to be exciting."
Other talking points from Goodell:
– On the passing of Bills owner Ralph Wilson: Goodell called Tuesday a "sad day in the NFL" as the league mourned the loss of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., who died at age 95. Goodell said he will attend a funeral service for Wilson.
Goodell was not eager to discuss the future of the Bills' franchise, including who has ownership of the team, if it could be sold or potentially leave Western New York.
"We know they have a lease. We know the terms of that lease, and we know we have to find a long-term solution to keep the Bills there, and that is what we'll work to do. But that's not our priority now, in the next few days.
The Bills' current lease, approved by NFL owners last year, extends through 2023. That lease has a $28 million buyout after the 2019 season.
– On placing a franchise in Los Angeles: Goodell said the league continues to consider options that could result in a franchise playing in Los Angeles, but said there is no immediate plans to put a team there.
"If we had the right opportunity to be back in Los Angeles with the right formula, meaning a stadium most importantly, we know the fans want a team there. We would love to do that, but it has to be successful," Goodell said. "We're going to do it right if we're going to do it. There are different proposals that are out there, and different opportunities, but not one that we're focused on as, 'This is the right solution.'"
– On Daniel Snyder's foundation presentation: Snyder made a presentation at the meetings about his club's establishment of the Washington Redskins Originals Foundation. Goodell said that presentation was "appreciated" by the membership. Goodell said the presentation was initiated by Snyder, without league input.
Goodell continued to back Snyder as well in his resistance to change the team's nickname.
"There are people that have strong views about it. But I think Dan has been very responsive to it, and listening," Goodell said. It's also pretty clear when you look at public opinion about it, look at the polls. Ninety percent of the Redskins fans support the name, they believe it is something that demonstrates pride, and the general population also supports it, overwhelmingly. He's trying to be very responsive in recognizing people have different views."