The Super Bowl ends the season and there is a wait of about two to three weeks for the NFL Combine to start. Which is what is going on now. After the Combine, there is a two week window until the feeding frenzy known as free agency kicks-off the league new year. A month later, the NFL Draft.
If the NFL has it’s way, the calendar will change.
According Roger Goodell the NFL is looking at moving some of their events back a little in order to capitalize on the popularity of the NFL. Under discussion is moving the Combine to early March. The start of free agency to April, and the draft to May. The NFLPA of course has said none of this will happen which means of course that some of it might.
The talk of a calendar change immediately makes one believe this is a preeminent move geared towards the one day 18 game schedule where the Super Bowl would played closer to the end of February instead of the beginning. The NFL says that is not the case and the NFLPA still maintains there will be no 18 game schedule.
If I were predicting what would happen, and I guess since I’m saying what I think will happen means that I am predicting it, the NFL will keep the start of FA at the beginning of March. It only makes sense due to the relocation problems with impending free agents. They have to up and move and be ready for the start of OTA’s with their new team. A delay in the start of the period will only delay their ability to sell their homes, get their kids ready for a new school, and actually move.
The draft on the other hand could be the bargaining chip. Despite the NFLPA’s insistence that the care about the incoming freshman, the really don’t. So the NFL can use the move of the draft as a necessary move while the NFLPA holds it hostage to keep free agency where it is. Until a player is actually drafted and then signed by a team, they are not a part of the NFLPA.
The move of the draft would help NFL teams in terms of organizing draft boards a little longer, seeing what kids get in more trouble prior to the draft itself, and so on. From a fan perspective, the move to late or mid-May is likely to draw groans. Most fan would rather the draft be early than later. It’s a huge draw in both viewers and anticipation but how fans will react to the wait of another few weeks is not known.
The NFL is not tinkering with the start of the season, yet, but they are talking about a mandate that puts all teams starting their training camp on the same day. This makes sense from a PR standpoint and fans would likely have no issue with that change. Some believe that starting sooner gives teams a bit of an advantage and frankly I still don’t understand why teams would wait a week when they can start earlier. Of course how that would affect the two teams playing a week earlier in the HOF game is a question.
The NFL is also looking at a “Signing Day” for free agency when the top players actually announce their destination of choice. On the surface that seems interesting but players do tend to change their minds at the last minute. Not so sure about this one.
The NFL is reviewing the use of the challenge flag as well. Last year, a touchdown run was not overturn because a red challenge flag was thrown. The penalty was the play was not reviewed. The NFL will change this and likely make it nothing more than an unsportsmanlike penalty if a flag is thrown on a scoring play which already reviewed.
Coaches now need to be a little more accountable as well. The NFL and the competition committee are discussing penalties against coaches who leave the sideline and enter the field of play to argue a call. I can think of a few coaches, Jim Harbaugh ahem, who would have to tone it down a wee bit on the sideline.
The NFL is currently hosting the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and then the owners will meet a short week and a half later for their annual meeting.