After a few weeks of feedback I would now strike my idea of a 17 game season (though I don't think it's a horrible idea)... and go with the following:
Keep the current 16 game season. Increase the Thursday games to 8 weeks and put them up for bid (instead of only being on the NFL channel). Add two more teams to the playoffs, no bye weeks. Playoff games have huge ratings, those 4 extra games (and 4 extra teams who make the playoffs) make the game more interesting to fans and would generate much more money then other ideas. Both these ideas came from a current player in the NFL.
Next, add in my ideas for 8 Tuesday night games (bid out) and 2 bye weeks a year (making for one more week of television) and you make more money then any of the 18 game ideas or other ideas out there.
The above along with my ideas for RFA, Rookie Contracts, and how to split the money between the players and owners I do believe would work for both sides.