Roger Goodell

Latest On WFT Owner Dan Snyder, NFL Investigation

Earlier today, we learned that the NFL slapped the Washington Football Team with a $10MM fine following the league’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Following the announcement, commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement:

[RELATED: NFL Fines Washington Football Team $10MM]

“I want to thank Beth Wilkinson and her team for conducting a thorough and independent review of the Washington club’s workplace culture and conduct and providing both the club and me with a series of thoughtful recommendations based on her findings,” Goodell said (via NFL.com). “Beth and her team performed their work in a highly professional and ethical manner. Most importantly, I want to thank the current and former employees who spoke to Beth and her team; they provided vital information that will help ensure that the workplace environment at the club continues to improve. It is incredibly difficult to relive painful memories. I am grateful to everyone who courageously came forward.”

We also learned that while the NFL didn’t suspended owner Dan Snyder, his wife, co-CEO Tanya Snyder, will now oversee the organization’s day-to-day operations. The decision to replace Dan Snyder with Tanya Snyder was “voluntary” and wasn’t mandated by the league, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. However, Mark Maske of the Washington Post clarifies (on Twitter) that Dan Snyder can only return to his day-to-day role following approval from Goodell. In the meantime, while Dan Snyder won’t be responsible for the team’s day-to-day operations, he’ll still play a role in getting the organization a new stadium (per Garafolo).

Meanwhile, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com tweets that the NFL won’t unveil any specific findings, as the league promised multiple interviewees that their “confidentiality would be protected.” Later, Florio shared that lawyers of the WFT employees blasted the league’s lack of transparency.

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Roger Goodell Eyeing Several More Years As Commissioner?

Roger Goodell is closing in on the 15th anniversary of his commissioner tenure. Come September, he will begin his 16th season. It does not look like Goodell plans to vacate that post in the near future.

Prior to the 2020 CBA’s passing, a sense around the league pointed to Goodell stepping down shortly after the CBA talks and the latest TV deals coming to pass. However, those checkpoints are now in the rear-view mirror. With a $113 billion media deal secured, Goodell may now stay on past the expiration date of his current contract.

The longtime commissioner’s deal expires in March 2024, and Peter King of NBC Sports notes that Goodell not only could stay on for multiple years beyond that contract’s expiration but that the bulk of NFL owners want him to do so. In 2017, conflicting reports emerged about Goodell’s retirement date. After a report indicated Goodell would indeed walk away at the conclusion of his current contract, he stopped short of announcing that.

Goodell, 62, is on track to pass predecessor Paul Tagliabue as the NFL’s second-longest-tenured commissioner. Tagliabue served in that role from 1989-2006. Pete Rozelle served as commissioner from 1960-89; that kind of longevity will be difficult for future commissioners to surpass. Tagliabue retired at age 66; Rozelle walked away when he was 63.

While a frequent punching bag, with his disciplinary powers in particular inviting scrutiny, Goodell has secured labor peace through 2030 and steered the NFL through a full season during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shepherding the league through the tumultuous 2020 stretch may well have provided more momentum for Goodell to extend his tenure, per King, who adds owners would want Goodell’s eventual successor to come from inside the NFL. It does not appear a successor will be needed for a bit.

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Extra Points: Coaches, GMs, Schedule, OTAs

After the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule this offseason, it has a “ready list” of minority candidates for head coaching jobs, offensive and defensive coordinator positions and GM candidates, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Beyond some of the big names — Eric Bieniemy, Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Leslie Frazier among them — coaches like Clemson OC Tony Elliott, Penn State HC James Franklin and Michigan State HC Mel Tucker appear on the HC portion of the list. On the GM side, some first-time candidates include Bills pro scouting director Malik Boyd, Raiders pro scouting director Dwayne Joseph, Ravens exec Vincent Newsome and Chargers player personnel director JoJo Wooden. Former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson — now the franchise’s pro scouting director — also appears on the GM portion of the list. The Rooney Rule now mandates teams interview two minority HC candidates and expanded the rule to include coordinator positions. Franchises must also open their senior-level executive jobs to minority and female candidates.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Normal NFL offseasons feature several weeks’ worth of OTAs preceding a June minicamp, but the NFLPA would like a schedule that looks closer to this year’s virtual offseason. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said “there is absolutely no reason” for the NFL to return to full-scale OTAs, per Sports Business Daily’s Ben Fischer (subscription required). Having seen no decline in performance after this atypical offseason, union president J.C. Tretter agrees with Smith. This would be a stretch for coaching staffs, which have steadily seen their time with players cut back. The past two CBA agreements have significantly limited offseason and padded training camp workouts, and 2020’s COVID-19-altered offseason created steeper acclimation challenges for young players.
  • The NFL has agreed to a formula for its 17th regular-season game, making it increasingly likely this season will be the last one of the 16-game era. In what will be the first shift to the league’s scheduling setup since 2002, the 17-game schedule will feature a fifth interconference game. The schedule will pit an AFC division winner against an NFC division winner, and on down the line within each division, but the extra interconference game will not feature two teams who played the previous year, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. In the event the NFL moves to the 17-game season in 2021, the Chiefs and Buccaneers could not play again next season; the earliest such a regular-season rematch would occur would be 2022.
  • Roger Goodell may well be on board with shortening the preseason slate from four games to two. The commissioner “seemed in favor” of halving the preseason schedule at last week’s owners meetings, according to ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham, but some high-profile owners are not. Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, John Mara and Art Rooney II dismissed the idea of going from three preseason games — the new number as of the 2020 CBA — to two, according to ESPN. No vote occurred on the matter, though Goodell discussing the idea publicly points to it remaining an issue going forward.

NFL Owners Pass Two Proposals

The NFL’s owners passed two proposals with potential significant ramifications Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell announced.

In the event that regular season games with playoff implications are cancelled and the league can’t complete it’s schedule in 17 or 18 weeks, the NFL will add an additional playoff team in each conference to limit the chances a team is unfairly left out of the postseason due to COVID-19 cancellations. This is only a contingency plan, and the current plan is still to proceed with seven playoff teams in each conference. As you’ll recall, this is the first year the playoffs has been expanded to seven teams from six.

The proposal lays out a new seeding system based on winning percentage in the event that teams end up with different numbers of games played. You can read the full language of the proposal courtesy of this tweet from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The second measure to pass will reward teams for developing minority coaches and executives. If a team has a minority coach/exec that gets hired away to be a new team’s head coach or general manager, they’ll receive two third-round compensatory picks. The picks will come one at a time in consecutive years, not two in the same draft.

You can read the full language of that proposal via this tweet from Pelissero. The vote to pass the playoff contingency plan was unanimous, and it sounds like the minority coaching development reward was passed overwhelmingly as well. The original playoff plan would’ve reseeded the eight teams regardless of division winners, meaning the NFC East winner likely would’ve been the eighth seed, but that part was struck down.

As for other potential rule changes, this offseason there was talk of the NFL adopting new onside kick rules to make it easier for teams to come back, potentially replacing a kick with a 4th and 15 attempt for trailing teams. That ultimately didn’t come too close to passing, but Goodell said Tuesday the issues isn’t going away. “It is something we have thought, and many clubs have thought, would be an exciting addition to the game, and something I think merits a lot of discussion,” the commissioner said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com.

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NFL Implements COVID-19 Policy Changes, Raiders Players Fined

In response to the growing number of positive COVID-19 tests around the league, the NFL is taking action. In a call with all 32 teams the league office laid out a slew of new policy changes, and sternly warned teams about the consequences of not following them.

In the memo recapping the call, which you can read courtesy of this tweet from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, they laid out some new protocols. The NFL and NFLPA jointly agreed to a “longer onboarding process” for free agent workouts, bans on gatherings outside the team facility, limits on the number of tryouts allowed per week, and the implementation of a “league-wide video monitoring system” to ensure teams are wearing masks and following protocols within their own buildings.

Details were sparse, but it sounds like Roger Goodell will now be watching what is going on within each facility. The line about gatherings outside the facility may have been directed toward the Raiders, who were just slapped with more fines after players were photographed mask-less at a fundraiser hosted by tight end Darren Waller. Waller was fined $30K for the incident, while Derek Carr, Derek Carrier, Zay Jones, Nevin Lawson, Erik Magnuson, Foster Moreau, Nathan Peterman, Hunter Renfrow, and Jason Witten were each fined $15K, according to a tweet from Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

We just got word earlier that the Raiders had been fined $50K after an investigation into unauthorized locker room access, and the team and head coach Jon Gruden were fined hundreds of thousands for mask violations in Week 2.

Perhaps most significantly, the memo outlines potential extreme punishments for new violations. The memo says that any team that has a COVID-19 protocol violation which results in spreading of the virus that impacts scheduling or other teams may be subject to the loss of draft picks or potential forfeitures of games.

Forfeiting a game would be a truly nuclear option, and the fact that it was even broached shows how serious the league is taking threats to the rest of the season. That would seem to apply to a team like the Titans, which had a true outbreak which has caused the only actual postponement to date. The new free agent workout restrictions could make it harder for veterans on the market to find jobs. This surely isn’t the last we’ve heard on the subject, and we’ll keep you posted whenever anything new comes along.

Colin Kaepernick NFL Return Gaining Steam?

Although Colin Kaepernick has not played since the 2016 season, the quarterback has remained a fixture in NFL news cycles for most of his free agency stay. And momentum appears to be growing for the former 49ers passer to receive another opportunity.

In discussing Kaepernick with some NFL head coaches, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicates there is “far, far more interest” in the 32-year-old passer now than there probably has been since he became a free agent in March 2017 (video link). While a few hurdles would remain — particularly in this coronavirus-marred offseason — Rapoport adds that teams’ interest in Kaepernick for a backup job is “very real.”

It has been well-documented the former Super Bowl starter has received only one opportunity to visit a team; that came with the Seahawks in 2017. Pete Carroll said he now regrets not signing him at that point but added that his team is content at quarterback now. Although a handful of teams stayed in Atlanta for the NFL-organized workout Kaepernick rearranged at the 11th hour last fall, no franchise has brought in the polarizing free agent since the Seahawks did so in during the summer of 2017.

Kaepernick had drifted off the NFL radar to a degree after his workout last year, but the worldwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality over the past three weeks have reignited the push for the player that started the NFL protests on this front to receive another chance. Roger Goodell called for Kaepernick to be given another opportunity this week.

It will take a team to make that happen, and much like Cam Newton, Kaepernick would likely have to wait until free agents are allowed to visit teams to have the chance to sign anywhere. That window may not open until late July, when training camps begin. That said, recent Jets signee Joe Flacco is not expected to be recovered from neck surgery until at least September. Newton would rank higher on quarterback-needy teams’ pecking orders than Kaepernick, but the former MVP profiles more as a starter — potentially if a team’s QB1 suffers an injury. Kaepernick interest appears to be contingent on a backup gig.

One of the teams connected to Newton this offseason discussed Kaepernick on Wednesday. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said (via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com) Kaepernick would fit his system but added that such an opportunity would likely be contingent on an emergency-type situation (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Andrew Siciliano). Lynn said he has not spoken with Kaepernick.

While ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes (via Twitter) the Chargers have come up around the league as a potential Kaepernick fit, joining the Titans in that regard, Lynn said he was happy with the three quarterbacks he has. The Bolts — they of a Tyrod TaylorJustin HerbertEaston Stick QB depth chart — having passed on Newton earlier this year provides a pretty good indication they are content at quarterback for the time being.

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Extra Points: Season, Super Bowl, Meetings

Late last month, a potential NFL contingency plan involving a mid-October start date surfaced. The league may be willing to further delay its 2020 season, if it means fans can attend games. Two teams estimated a fan-less season would cost each team approximately $100MM, and Albert Breer of SI.com adds that one NFC exec said he does not imagine much debate will ensue if the league is faced with a choice of starting the season on time without fans or moving Week 1 to November with fans if it meant fans could attend. A $100MM per-team loss would mean a roughly $48MM reduction to the 2021 salary cap, which would cause titanic fallout league-wide.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the cap was expected to rise by more than $10MM from 2020-21 and produce greater per-year spikes than the 2011 CBA brought. While Breer estimates the league would make an effort to smooth out a cap decrease so it would gradually decline over multiple years rather than plunge off a cliff in 2021, a fan-less season would have tremendous consequences.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • A delayed season would mean Super Bowl LV being pushed back. Super Bowl sites, however, are required to free up more dates in the event the game must be moved, Breer adds. The NFL moved Super Bowl XVII back a week because of the 1982 strike and delayed Super Bowl XXXVI a week because of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Super Bowl being pushed beyond mid-March would require a negotiation with the NFLPA, since it would conflict with the start of the 2021 league year. The NFL is not at this point yet, but given the uncertainty the coronavirus has injected into other sports’ seasons, the league is preparing for alternate scenarios.
  • Roger Goodell recently reduced his salary to zero dollars, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. The 14th-year commissioner requested to the compensation committee he not take a salary during the pandemic, and Fowler adds that took effect weeks ago. Goodell makes roughly $40MM in salary.
  • Pay reductions have gone into effect at the league level. Various management-level execs at the league office will see their pay slashed by 5-15%, Fowler adds. These pandemic-induced salary reductions follow similar moves made by the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.
  • The next set of NFL owners’ meetings — scheduled for May 19-21 in Marina Del Ray, Calif. — will be fully virtual, per the Washington Post’s Mark Maske (on Twitter). Considering NFL teams remain in virtual mode, this was expected.
  • The NFL will release its schedule Thursday. A full 17-week season will be scheduled, with some games possible to shift to Saturdays. No London games are believed to be on tap this season, however, due to the pandemic.

Latest On NFL’s Virtual Draft Plan

Less than two weeks remain until the NFL’s virtual draft. Some additional details of the unique event emerged Monday.

  • Roger Goodell will announce the picks from the basement of his Westchester County, N.Y., home, Peter King of NBC Sports notes. This will occur on a neutral broadcast, as opposed to ESPN and NFL Network conducting separate airings. ESPN and NFL Network will simulcast the entire draft.
  • Each team will have a designated drafter that will be connected to the league’s encrypted Microsoft Teams channel, King adds. NFL VP of player personnel Ken Fiore will communicate with teams regarding who will be on the clock when while also serving as an emergency contact if a team cannot make a pick through the Microsoft Teams channel. While each team will still have 10 minutes to pick during the first round, King confirms the NFL will be flexible if a communication issue affects a team’s process.
  • A separate, secure line will be in place for draft-day trades, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding that multiple team executives can be on those calls at once. The mock draft each of the 32 teams will go through next week will include fake trades as well to test this system.
  • IT personnel have completed their work, installing cameras in the homes of each GM and head coach, Rapoport adds (via Twitter). GMs are permitted to have one IT person in their home during the draft, per Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff (via King).
  • The league reached out to 58 prospects and a few college coaches, and cameras will be installed in the homes where they’ll watch the draft, King notes. No more than six people can be at players’ respective draft-watching events. This is certainly way down from the number of family members and friends who usually gather for these viewings, but the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed just about everything about the draft — except for the dates — this year.

Pass Interference Won’t Be Reviewable In 2020

The NFL is officially making a big rule change ahead of the 2020 season. Pass interference will no longer be a reviewable foul whenever the league next plays games, a source told Mark Maske of the Washington Post (Twitter link).

Maske reports that owners won’t even take a vote on the issue and the pass interference replay review rule will simply be allowed to expire. In a separate tweet, Maske notes that teams “overwhelmingly indicated” they didn’t want the rule renewed for another season. In a huge move last offseason, the league made pass interference penalties reviewable by coach’s challenges and by the booth.

They made the decision last year at the behest of the Saints following the controversial no-call that likely cost them the NFC Championship Game to the Rams. The rollout was a disaster, and seemingly everyone hated the implementation right from the start. The replay booth was very strict for the most part, but also inconsistent, with what they would overturn.

As for new rule changes that could take effect in 2020, the NFL released the full list of proposed rule changes that owners will vote on at upcoming meetings. Included are the Eagles’ proposals to “provide an alternative to the onside kick that would allow a team who is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring (4th and 15 from the kicking team’s 25-yard line),” as well as to make overtime 15 minutes and reduce the importance of the overtime coin toss.

There are a handful of other interesting but less significant proposed changes which you can view in the release. All proposed rules need support from 24 of the 32 owners in order to pass.

Roger Goodell: NFL Planning To Play In 2020

Even amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, the NFL plays to forge ahead with its 2020 season. This week, commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated that stance in a chat with Kairos CEO Ankur Jain. 

The NFL is planning to play,” Goodell said (link via the NFL on Instagram). “That’s our hope, and that’s our planning to date…We can help our country heal. We can help bring our communities together. We can provide hope.”

Goodell also stressed that public safety is paramount to the NFL. Right now, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the NFL launches its season in September exactly as planned. Even if social distancing regulations are relaxed by local and federal regulators, the threat of a new COVID-19 wave will likely linger.

In the meantime, the NFL has drastically altered its offseason plans while mostly keeping the scheduled milestones in place. NFL executives will conduct the NFL Draft at their individual homes. And, between now and April 23rd, they’re conducting interviews with players via video conference.

President Trump has been pushing for the season to start on time, but there are many hurdles to clear between now and the fall. That goes for every city, but it’s doubly true in Los Angeles. SoFi Stadium is behind schedule and less than certain to be ready for Week 1, leaving the Rams and Chargers in limbo.

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