If other companies wanted to use official NFL licensing for some reason, they've got to wait another year.
The only option for hardcore pigskin fans has been EA's Madden NFL franchise, and it's not only because the games are typically quite good. It's also because the publisher has held a licensing exclusivity deal with the NFL since 2004; only EA is allowed to use official team, stadium, personnel, and player names, as well as logos, uniforms, and colors. Renewed in 2008 and set to expire in 2012, the Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL is giving EA another year: the agreement won't expire until 2013. The league has also reduced the royalties they charge EA for this license, evidently prompted by the apparent high chance of a strike. If you weren't aware, the NFL has some internal issues that could lead to either a delay of the start of the season, or an altogether canceled season.
Obviously, if this happens, EA would release Madden NFL 12 during a year when there is no football season. Most believe this could hurt sales but think about it: there's no football to watch so wouldn't even more people be interested in playing ? Well, maybe that's the wrong way to think about it. At any rate, EA and the NFL will remain partners for a little while longer…sorry, 2K.