What is important? The NFL doesn’t take a break
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, once again the New England Patriots have crowned themselves. And now? Now there is a lull until the 100th NFL season starts in September 2019. A long time, in which however nevertheless so much will happen – keyword Draft, keyword Free Agency.
One thing is clear: the players of the 32 NFL teams currently have a break, can recover, heal their wounds, have minor to major operations done or simply refresh their energy balance and indulge in family life after exhausting months. Behind the facades of the massive franchise facilities spread across the US, the phone doesn’t stand still. Here they work diligently, tinker with the details and work on planning and realizing the management of the future.
The calendars, smartphones, tablets and computers of the bosses or doers are all marked with the most important key data for the off-season. And these also offer the football fan interesting things away from the missing, cracking action.
On 13 March (local time) the so-called Free Agency begins, in which players can be analyzed, interviewed and engaged by the teams. At this time, the contracts of the athletes who are not bound to their franchises beyond the 2018 season will officially expire. From then on, these professionals become so-called Free Agents, who are allowed to choose their next team themselves.
Apart from talks with potential newcomers, the teams will have some homework to do. For example, they are obliged to meet the salary cap requirements by 4 p.m. New York time. This means that no team is allowed to spend more money on its 53-man roster at this time than the newly raised limit between 187 and 191.1 million US dollars prescribes.
The annual lottery for the hottest college graduates to subsequently enter the league as rookies will be held between 25 and 27 April 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. In order to ensure a certain balance between the individual teams, the teams that performed worst in the previous season – in this case 2018/19 – will be allowed to vote first. This year, the Cardinals will start, followed by the 49ers, the Jets, the Raiders, the Buccaneers, the Giants, the Jaguars, the Lions, the Bills and the Broncos. Champion New England, according to the order, will take his final turn in round one.
In the run-up to the drafts, the Combine will take place. Here, college players who have registered for the draft complete a number of tests that examine both the physical and psychological components (26 February to 4 March).
Interesting background: The first draft of history took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia on February 8, 1936. The draft came from the then Commissioner Bert Bell, who saw the survival of the league in danger, as the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins at that time had a dominating supremacy and weaker teams hardly had a chance to hire great college talents.
In the so-called training camps, the 32 football teams from the National Football League prepare intensively for the new season, where the Playbook is trained and the finishing touches are made. The camps start at the end of July and run through August – but start 15 days before the first of a total of four preparatory matches (9 to 30 August) scheduled for each team. In the end, the roster will also be reduced to the prescribed number of 53 players.
The NFL is celebrating its 100th season in 2019, and has already heralded this with a gigantic and star-studded commercial at the recent Super Bowl. There will also be a special logo with the number 100 integrated. Matching this: While the Green Bay Packers, the record holder in American football by title, celebrated their 100th football season in 2018/19 (with moderate success), the Chicago Bears are now celebrating their 100th season.
The Los Angeles Chargers will play for the last time of three years at the ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park (StubHub Center) in the coming season, while the Los Angeles Rams will play for the last time of four years at the Memorial Coliseum. Both teams will then move to the state-of-the-art Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California, which is still under construction.
In front of the televisions and in the stadiums, football fans will finally gather again from 5 September 2019 (local time), when the opening match of a total of 256 regular season games will take place. Each of the 32 teams will then play 16 more matches (eight at home, eight away) to win the coveted twelve play-off tickets. The schedule extends over 17 consecutive weeks, with each team taking a week break once.
The pairings are determined as follows: Each team duels twice in its own division (e.g. AFC North) with each opponent, which makes six games. The NFL schedule also provides for each team to play once per season against all teams of another division in their own conference (e.g. AFC East) according to a three-year rotation principle, which makes four additional games per regular season. In addition, each team must compete once against all franchises from one division of the other Conference (e.g. NFC West) on a four-year rotation basis, making four more games each year. There is also a rule in the NFL schedule that each team plays against other Conference franchises that have shot down the previous season in their division on the same place in the table – this of course does not apply to the division against which they are playing anyway.
All this ensures that every four years all teams have played against each other once and every eight years each team has to play once in every stadium. Deviations from the “real” home or guest appearances can meanwhile occur in the course of the so-called London or Mexico City games, with which the NFL is showing itself worldwide.
While the exact times of the 256 Regular Season games have not yet been determined, the opponents of all 32 teams have already been determined. So some of the hot hits of the new season are already known, including Patriots vs. Chiefs, Steelers vs. Seahawks, Chargers vs. Packers, Chiefs vs. Packers, Giants vs. Vikings, Cowboys vs. Rams, Falcons vs. Eagles or Seahawks vs. Ravens.
The play-offs for the 2019/20 season will finally start at the beginning of January, and the Wildcard Weekend will take place between 4 and 5 January (local time). In the end everything leads to the Super Bowl again, this time in its 54th edition (LIV). The bombastic final is scheduled for February 2, 2020 (local time) at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.