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The 2019 NFL season will be the 100th season of the National Football League (NFL). The season will begin on September 5, 2019 with the NFL Kickoff Game with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers. The season will conclude with Super Bowl LIV, the league's championship game, scheduled for February 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

2019 National Football League season
NFL100th.png
The NFL's centennial emblem, which will be used throughout 2019.
Regular season
DurationSeptember 5, 2019 (2019-09-05) – December 29, 2019 (2019-12-29)
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 4, 2020
Super Bowl LIV
DateFebruary 2, 2020
SiteHard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 26, 2020
SiteTBD

Contents

Player movementEdit

The 2019 NFL League year and trading period began on March 13. On March 8, teams were allowed to exercise options for 2019 on players who have option clauses in their contracts submit qualifying offers to their pending restricted free agents and submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2018 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agent credit. Teams were required to be under the salary cap using the "Top 51" definition (in which the 51 highest paid-players on the team's payroll must have a combined salary cap.) On March 11 clubs were allowed to contact and begin contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.

Free agencyEdit

Free agency began on March 13. Notable players to change teams include:

TradesEdit

Notable retirementsEdit

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski - Five-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time Super Bowl champion. Played for the New England Patriots for his entire nine-year career.[1]
  • Center Ryan Kalil - Five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All Pro (two first-team, one second-team). Played for the Carolina Panthers for his entire twelve-year career.[2]
  • Punter Shane Lechler - Seven-time Pro Bowl selection and nine-time All-Pro (six first-team, three second-team). Played for the Raiders and Texans during his 18-year career.[3]
  • Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata - Five-time Pro Bowl selection, five-time All-Pro (two first-team, three second-team). Played nine years of his 13-year career with the Ravens, with shorter stints with the Lions and Eagles.[4]
  • Linebacker Brian Orakpo - Four-time Pro Bowl selection. Played for the Redskins and Titans over a ten-year career.[5]
  • Defensive end Julius Peppers - Nine-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time All-Pro (three first-team, three second-team). Played for the Panthers, Bears and Packers during his 17-year career.[6]
  • Guard Josh Sitton - Four-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All-Pro (one first-team, two second-team), and Super Bowl XLV champion. Played for the Packers, Bears, and Dolphins during his eleven-year career.
  • Center Max Unger - Three-time Pro Bowl selection, one-time All-Pro (first-team) and Super Bowl XLVIII champion. Played ten seasons with the Seahawks and Saints.
  • Defensive tackle Kyle Williams - Six-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro (two first-team). Played for the Buffalo Bills for his entire thirteen-year career.[7]

DraftEdit

The 2019 NFL Draft will be held from April 25–27 in Nashville, Tennessee.[8]

Officiating changesEdit

OutgoingEdit

Combined with the 2018 offseason retirements of Ed Hochuli, Terry McAulay, Gene Steratore, and Jeff Triplette, the league has been forced to replace seven of its 17 referee positions within a two-year period.[11]

Rule changesEdit

The following rule changes have been approved for the 2019 season at the NFL owners' meeting on March 26, 2019:[15]

  • Make permanent the experimental kickoff rules from the 2018 season.
  • Abolish all blindside blocks anywhere on the field (personal foul, 15 yards).
  • Allow as a one-year experiment to make the following plays reviewable, subject to coaches' challenges outside of the final 2:00 of each half, and subject to booth review after the two-minute warning of each half:
    • Offensive and defensive pass interference, whether called or not.
    • Scoring plays and turnovers negated by penalties.
    • Any extra point or two-point conversion attempt.
  • Change how double fouls are enforced after a change in possession; the last team to possess retains the ball at the spot of enforcement. If the enforcement spot is after a touchback, the ball is placed at the 20 yard line (after punt) or 25 yard line (free kick). If the spot of enforcement is in the end zone, the ball is placed at the one yard line.
  • Make scrimmage kick rules apply if a missed field goal is touched in the end zone before hitting the ground, and if the ball is touched by either team behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Allow teams to enforce a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty committed during a touchdown on either the try (PAT or two point conversion) or on the ensuing kickoff.
  • Allow officials to disqualify players for flagrant "football" plays in addition to "non-football" plays.

The proposed rule for allowing both teams to possess the ball in overtime, even if the first team scored a touchdown, was tabled to the May owners' meeting.

An additional rule change builds upon a rule originally passed in 2018. The league limited football helmets to a list of 34 league-approved models, up from the 23 originally approved in 2018. The grandfather clause allowing existing players to wear their previous non-approved helmets will expire, and 32 of the league's players will be required to change helmets (most prominently Tom Brady, whose Riddell VSR-4 was one of ten now-banned models still in use in 2018).[16]

2019 deathsEdit

Members of the Pro Football Hall of FameEdit

Forrest Gregg
Gregg, an offensive lineman, spent 14 years of his 15-season playing career with the Green Bay Packers, a member of the Packers' 1960s dynasty as well as the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl VI winning squad in his final season of play. Gregg was inducted into the Hall in his first year of eligibility as part of the Class of 1977. He also had a less illustrious coaching career in the NFL, college football and Canadian Football League in the late 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s, most successfully leading the 1981 Cincinnati Bengals to an AFC championship and a loss in Super Bowl XVI. Gregg died April 12, age 85.

OthersEdit

PreseasonEdit

Training camps for the 2019 season will be held in late July through August. Teams will start training camp no earlier than 15 days before the team's first scheduled preseason game.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for August 1, 2019, will be televised nationally by NBC. The game will be held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the league was founded 99 years prior. The game will feature the Denver Broncos (whose owner Pat Bowlen and former cornerback Champ Bailey are being inducted) against the Atlanta Falcons (Tony Gonzalez played the last five years of his career with the Falcons).[17]

On August 17, the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams will play a preseason game at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, the former home of the Pro Bowl.[18] The Green Bay Packers are negotiating to play a preseason game on August 23 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, with the Oakland Raiders as the opponent; this would be the first NFL game on Canadian soil since the end of the Bills Toronto Series in 2013.[19] Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan was another potential site for the game, and the teams secured the cooperation of the city and local sports promoter On Ice Management, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders vetoed the proposal; the Roughriders feared they would be unable to reconfigure the field from NFL to CFL standards in time for the Roughriders' August 24 home game.[20] (The Winnipeg Blue Bombers play on the road that weekend and thus do not have a scheduling conflict.)

NFL centennial promotionsEdit

On October 18, 2018, the NFL announced that it would commemorate its 100th season throughout 2019, beginning at Super Bowl LIII. An NFL 100 emblem will be featured in promotions across all NFL properties during the season, worn on jerseys as a patch, placed on game balls, and painted on fields.[21][22]

The Chicago Bears (who, as the Decatur Staleys, were one of the 14 charter members of the league) will also celebrate their centennial season with commemorative events throughout 2019. On November 15, 2018, the team unveiled a customized version of the league-wide centennial emblem (which will be worn on jerseys in place of the NFL-branded version), and announced that the team would introduce a throwback jersey.[23]

The NFL aired a special two-minute commercial during Super Bowl LIII to launch the centennial campaign, which featured appearances by 40 current and former NFL players[24], NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL officials Ron Torbert and Sarah Thomas, viral teenage girl football star Sam Gordon[25], and video game streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. The commercial won the annual Super Bowl Ad Meter survey held by USA Today, marking the first time that the NFL itself won.[26]

The league purposely scheduled a weekly game to honor landmark moments in NFL history:[27]

Week Opponents Significance
1 Packers vs. Bears League's longest running rivalry
2 Browns vs. Jets First Monday Night Football contest
3 Cowboys vs. Dolphins Super Bowl VI
4 Chargers vs. Dolphins Epic in Miami
5 Bills vs. Titans The Comeback, Music City Miracle
6 Patriots vs. Giants Super Bowls XLII (David Tyree's helmet catch spoils the perfect regular season) and XLVI
7 Raiders vs. Packers Super Bowl II
8 Packers vs. Chiefs Super Bowl I
9 Vikings vs. Chiefs Super Bowl IV
10 Falcons vs. Saints Rivalry game, Saints' return to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina
11 Patriots vs. Eagles Super Bowls XXXIX and LII (Philly Special)
12 Raiders vs. Jets Heidi Game
13 49ers vs. Ravens Super Bowl XLVII
14 Bengals vs. Browns Battle of Ohio (state where NFL was founded), both teams founded by Paul Brown
15 Colts vs. Saints Super Bowl XLIV
16 Raiders vs. Chargers Rivalry game, Holy Roller play

The Week 17 historic Game of the Week will be determined as that week approaches.

Regular seasonEdit

The 2019 regular season's 256 games will be played over a 17-week schedule that will begin on September 5, 2019. Each of the league's 32 teams will play a 16 game schedule, with one bye week. There will be games on Monday nights and on Thursdays, Including the National Football League Kickoff game and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season will conclude with a full slate of 16 games, will be scheduled for December 29, all of which will be intra-division matchups, as it had been since 2010.

Scheduling formula

Under the NFL's current scheduling formula, each team plays the other three teams in its own division twice. In addition, a team plays against all four teams in one other division from each conference. The final two games on a team's schedule are against the two remaining teams in the same conference that finished in the same position in their respective divisions (e.g., the team that finished fourth in its division will play all three other teams in the conference that also finished fourth). The division parings for 2019 will be as follows:

    Intra-conference
AFC East vs AFC North
AFC West vs AFC South
NFC East vs NFC North
NFC West vs NFC South

    Inter-conference
AFC East vs NFC East
AFC North vs NFC West
AFC South vs NFC South
AFC West vs NFC North

The entire schedule was released on April 17, 2019. Highlights of the 2019 season include:

Saturday flexible schedulingEdit

When the entire season schedule was released on April 17, the league announced Saturday games in Week 16. The final times of these games will be announced no later than Week 8. Of the following five match-ups – 49ersRams, BillsPatriots, LionsBroncos, RaidersChargers, and TexansBuccaneers – three will be moved to Saturday, December 21 on the NFL Network, while the remaining two games will be played on Sunday, December 22 on either CBS or Fox.

PostseasonEdit

The 2019 Playoffs are scheduled to begin on the weekend of January 4–5, 2020, with the Wild Card Playoff round. The four winners of these games will visit the top two seeds in each conference in the Divisional round games, scheduled for January 11–12. The winners of those games will advance to the Conference championships scheduled for January 19. The 2020 Pro Bowl will be held at a site to be announced, scheduled for January 26 and will be broadcast on ESPN. Super Bowl LIV, scheduled for February 2, will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Fox.

Head coaching and front office personnel changesEdit

Head coachesEdit

Off-seasonEdit

Team Departing coach Interim coach Incoming coach Reason for leaving Notes
Arizona Cardinals Steve Wilks Kliff Kingsbury Fired Wilks was fired on December 31, 2018, after one season in which he accrued a record of 3–13 (.188).[34] He later joined the Cleveland Browns as a defensive coordinator.[35]

Kingsbury, who had spent most of the previous six seasons as head coach of Texas Tech, was hired on January 8, 2019.[36]

Cincinnati Bengals Marvin Lewis Zac Taylor Mutual decision Lewis and the Bengals mutually agreed to part ways on December 31 after a 6–10 (.375) season. In 16 years as the Bengals' head coach, Lewis was 131–122–3 (.518), with 7 playoff appearances. Famously, the Bengals never won a playoff game under Lewis and had missed the playoffs in each of his last three seasons.[37] Lewis joined NFL Network as a commentator for Alliance of American Football games shortly after his departure.[38]

Taylor was officially named as head coach on February 5, 2019. This is his first experience as head coach after serving as the Los Angeles Rams' quarterbacks coach and at 35 years old, is now currently the 2nd youngest active coach in the NFL, after Sean McVay, whom coaches Taylor's former team, the Rams.[39]

Cleveland Browns Hue Jackson Gregg Williams Freddie Kitchens Fired Jackson was fired on October 29, 2018, accumulating a 3–36–1 (.088) record during his 2½-season tenure with the Browns. Jackson failed to win any away games during his tenure and lost every game in 2017.[40] He rejoined the Cincinnati Bengals as an assistant coach immediately after his firing. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams finished out the 2018 season with a 5–3 (.625) record. Released by the Browns on January 9, 2019, Williams later joined the New York Jets as a defensive coordinator.[41]

Kitchens was promoted to head coach on January 12, 2019, after serving as the interim offensive coordinator following Jackson's firing. This is his first head coaching position.[42]

Denver Broncos Vance Joseph Vic Fangio Joseph was fired on December 31, 2018, after a 6–10 (.375) season. The Broncos were 11–21 (.344) in Joseph's two losing seasons as head coach, with no playoff appearances.[43] He joined the Arizona Cardinals as a defensive coordinator.[44]

Fangio, a first-time head coach with over 30 years experience as an assistant dating back to the USFL, most recently as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, was hired on January 10, 2019.[45]

Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy Joe Philbin Matt LaFleur McCarthy was fired on December 2, 2018, shortly after the Packers' loss to the Arizona Cardinals. McCarthy leaves with a record of 135–85–2 (.613) with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl championship. Philbin, the team's offensive coordinator, finished the season as interim coach with a record of 2–2 (.500).[46]

LaFleur was hired on January 8, 2019. Previously the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2018, this is his first head coaching position.[47]

Miami Dolphins Adam Gase Brian Flores Gase was fired on December 31, 2018, after a 7–9 (.438) season. The Dolphins were 23–25 (.479) in Gase's three years as head coach, with one playoff appearance in 2016.[48] He was later hired by Dolphins' division rivals, the New York Jets, as head coach.[49]

Flores, formerly the New England Patriots' long time assistant, recently as linebackers coach, was announced as head coach on February 5, 2019. After being with the Patriots organization since their 2004 Super Bowl-winning season, this is his first head coaching position.[50]

New York Jets Todd Bowles Adam Gase Bowles was fired on December 30, 2018, finishing the season with a record of 4–12 (.250) and a cumulative record of 24–40 (.375) with no playoff appearances in four seasons with Jets.[51] He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive coordinator.[52]

Gase, who was previously the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, posting a 23–25 (.479) record in three seasons, was hired on January 11, 2019.[49]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dirk Koetter Bruce Arians Koetter was fired on December 30, 2018, after a 5–11 (.313) season. The Buccaneers were 19–29 (.396) in Koetter's three years as head coach, with no playoff appearances. Previously, Koetter was Buccaneers' offensive coordinator for one season in 2015.[53] He rejoined the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive coordinator.[54]

Arians was announced as the Buccaneers' new head coach on January 8, 2019. He was previously the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons with 49–30–1 (.619) record from 2013 to 2017, leading them to an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2015.[55]

Front office personnelEdit

Off-seasonEdit

Team Position Departing office holder Interim replacement Incoming office holder Reason for leaving Notes
Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome Eric DeCosta Retired The Ravens announced on February 2, 2018 that Newsome would retire after 16 years as the team's GM and that Eric DeCosta, most recently the Ravens' assistant GM, would succeed Newsome.[56] Newsome was the first African-American to occupy the GM position in the NFL.[57]
Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Shaun Herock Mike Mayock Fired McKenzie was fired on December 10, 2018, after six-plus seasons as Raiders' GM.[58] Herock, team's director of college scouting, served as the Raiders’ interim GM until the team settles on a full-time replacement.

Mayock had previously been a television commentator for the past 26 seasons and has never held a front office position.[59]

StadiumsEdit

This will be the third and final season for the Los Angeles Chargers at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park, The Chargers will play their final game there either December 21 or 22 against the Oakland Raiders [60] and this will also be the fourth and final season for the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams will play their final game there December 29, 2019 against the Arizona Cardinals. Both the Chargers and the Rams will move to Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California in 2020. This will also be the final season for the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders will play their final game there on December 15, 2019 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. before moving to Las Vegas in 2020.

A buyout window in the Buffalo Bills' lease on New Era Field opens after the 2019 season ends. The window allows the team to cancel its lease on the stadium for a $28 million fee and relocate. If the Bills choose not to exercise the buyout window, they will not be allowed to relocate until the lease expires after the 2022 season.[61]

Raiders relocationEdit

The Oakland Raiders' lease on Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum expired after the 2018 season. The team is slated to move to Las Vegas, Nevada once Las Vegas Stadium is completed; it is currently scheduled to open in 2020. The Coliseum management has expressed a reluctance to allow the Raiders to continue using the Coliseum after the lease expires unless the team pays more to cover the losses the Coliseum incurs by hosting Raiders games. In December 2018, the city of Oakland filed a lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL seeking financial damages and unpaid debt, claiming the proposed relocation is illegal but not asking for an injunction forcing the team to stay. The Raiders have stated that if any legal action were filed against them, that they would not renew with the Coliseum and find another, undetermined, temporary home for 2019 until Las Vegas Stadium is finished.[62] The Raiders then attempted to negotiate a lease with Oracle Park in San Francisco before the San Francisco 49ers allegedly vetoed the plan as an infringement on their territorial rights and the mayor of the city spoke in opposition to the Raiders playing there.[63]

With the 49ers refusing to waive territorial rights, the Raiders were forced to either renegotiate with the Coliseum[64] or find a temporary stadium outside the San Francisco Bay Area (something that the Raiders management was reluctant to do, though the team acknowledged and considered bids from San Antonio, Texas and Tucson, Arizona). The Raiders, despite reservations about providing funds to the lawsuit being filed against them, opted to negotiate a return to the Coliseum for 2019; a tentative agreement, pending Coliseum and league approval, was announced February 25.[65] The lease agreement was approved by the Oakland Coliseum Authority, the Oakland city council, and Alameda County supervisors by March 21.[66]

UniformsEdit

  • Houston Texans: On April 22, the Texans announced on social media that they would add their primary logo on the back of their jerseys, making this their first uniform update in franchise history.[67] The addition of the logo on the jersey's back makes them the third team in the NFL to do so, after the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.
  • Los Angeles Chargers: On April 16, the Chargers announced that they were making their powder blue alternate jerseys the new primary uniforms.[68] In addition to this announcement, they also swapped out their navy blue facemask for gold.
  • New York Jets: On April 4, the Jets unveiled a new uniform.[69] The new uniforms introduce black as an accent color and resemble a modernized version of the uniform layout the Jets used from 1978 to 1997, including a return to green helmets and "TV numbers" on the shoulders.[70]

MediaEdit

This will be the sixth year under the current broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC. This includes "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season (regardless of the conference of the visiting team). NBC will continue to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff Game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN will continue to air Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl with the latter being simulcasted on ABC. Fox will continue to air Thursday Night Football alongside with NFL Network, with Amazon Video and Twitch.tv continuing to simulcast those games online in the second and final year of the two sites' current contract. Fox will also broadcast Super Bowl LIV.

In November 2018, ESPN announced that it would air coverage for all three days of the 2019 NFL Draft on ABC, replacing Fox's broadcast television simulcast of NFL Network in 2018. ABC's coverage will cater towards a mainstream audience and be hosted by the panel of ESPN's College GameDay, while ESPN and NFL Network will continue to carry more conventional coverage of the draft.[71]

The league has an option to cancel its contract with DirecTV after the 2019 season. DirecTV has had exclusive rights to the league's out-of-market sports package, NFL Sunday Ticket, since the package was introduced in 1994.[72]

Personnel changesEdit

On February 28, 2019, Jason Witten announced he would be leaving his color commentator position on Monday Night Football after one season, as he would be pursuing a comeback with the Dallas Cowboys, where he had played tight end for fifteen seasons before joining ESPN in 2018.[73]

Former referee Jeff Triplette also is leaving Monday Night Football as rules analyst. He is being replaced with John Parry, who retired the same day his ESPN position was announced; Parry is the third rules analyst ESPN has hired in two years, following Triplette and Gerald Austin.[12]

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