Roger Goodell

Front Office Notes: Ravens, Panthers, Broncos

We heard yesterday that longtime Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will step down from his role following the 2018 season. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun passed along a quote from the executive regarding the move (via Twitter):

“I will remain as the Ravens’ GM through the 2018 season and continue my role directing free agency and the draft,” he said. “After that, Eric (DeCosta) will take over as our GM and assume all the duties that come with that, including heading our personnel department and directing free agency and the draft. I plan to remain with the Ravens in a significant position in personnel and help us win more Super Bowls. We have planned this succession over the last five years.”

Let’s take a look at some more front office notes from around the NFL…

  • The Panthers‘ interview with general manager candidate Martin Mayhew took place on Friday, the club announced today. Mayhew, the Lions’ GM from 2008-15, has spent time with the Giants and — currently — the 49ers since being fired in Detroit. Meanwhile, reports had indicated Titans executive Ryan Cowden may be a candidate for the Panthers’ general manager vacancy, but no interview has been scheduled to this point, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. In sum, Carolina’s contenders include Lake Dawson (Bills), Jimmy Raye III (Texans), Mayhew, and incumbent interim GM Marty Hurney, who is viewed as the frontrunner for the position.
  • The Panthers are seemingly on the market, and commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters (including NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport) that the NFL believes Carolina is a great market. Ultimately, the commissioner believes the organization’s current ownership is looking for a buyer that will keep the team in Charlotte.
  • Goodell confirmed that the Broncos have been operating “in full compliance with league guidelines” in regards to the Broncos’ ownership structure through the Pat Bowlen Trust. “They are in compliance with our rules. They have been very thoughtful. They have done a terrific job of leading that franchise over the last several years as Pat’s focused on his health issues,” Goodell said (via Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com). Bowlen stepped away from his role back in 2014 so he could focus on his fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The trust was established to ensure that franchise would continue to run smoothly in his absence. Goodell did point out the the trustees will ultimately have to decide who the primary owner will be.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

NFLPA Doesn’t See Work Stoppage Being Avoided

The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, and following its 10-year run, there looks to be a fight between the league and the NFLPA.

This has been rumored for many months, and executive director DeMaurice Smith still cannot see any way around a work stoppage being required prior to the 2021 campaign.

No. We prepare for war,” Smith said (via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com) when asked if any hopes for a smooth CBA agreement exist. “So if we’re able to get a collective bargaining agreement done, that’s great. But all of these men went through a unilateral declared war on players in 2010 and 2011. I think it’s important for [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] and I to have a wonderful open discussion, but he represents the owners, and we represent the players.”

Smith does not see any circumstances under which he would agree to extend the current CBA, but the recently reelected union boss didn’t close the door on early negotiations after the 2018 season (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero and the Washington Post’s Mark Maske).

This collective bargaining agreement was painfully negotiated at a time when the league secured a $4 billion war chest to basically put us out of business,” Smith said. “There are a lot of great things about the collective bargaining agreement, but whether it’s the great things or the thing that we don’t like, collective bargaining agreements are grinding, exhausting elements that come out of two parties that want fundamentally different things.

So, I could never imagine a world where you would simply put a page on the back of it that says, ‘This document is now extended until 2035.”

Player discipline will be a central issue to the next agreement, per executive committee member Zak DeOssie, as will the resistance of the long-rumored 18-game season. NFLPA president Eric Winston remains opposed, a stance the players have long held.

Smith said he’s engaged in discussions with Goodell about injuries sustained on Thursday-night games. Possible fixes suggested in those talks were possibly scheduling bye weeks in front of teams’ Thursday assignments and implementing unspecified mandatory rest periods for players. Placing byes in front of Thursday games may conflict with the league’s London agenda. Many teams given the England games prefer their bye to come after that trip, so navigating around that could be difficult.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: O’Brien, Arians, Browns

Earlier today, we learned that Marvin Lewis is planning to leave Cincinnati after 15 years as the Bengals’ head coach, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Texans and their head coach, Bill O’Brien, could also be headed for a split after the 2017 season. O’Brien has led Houston to three nine-win seasons and two playoff berths, and if rookie sensation Deshaun Watson had not suffered an ACL tear earlier this season, the team might be in playoff contention yet again. However, La Canfora says the relationship between O’Brien and GM Rick Smith has long been complicated, and sources close to the situation foresee a change sooner rather than later. Houston’s head coaching job is an attractive one, largely because of Watson, and O’Brien would be an attractive candidate for one of the multitude of coaching vacancies this offseason. If O’Brien does leave Houston, La Canfora names current defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as a logical internal candidate to replace him.

Now for more from La Canfora’s Sunday morning output, starting with more out of Houston:

  • La Canfora writes that Texans QB Tom Savage remains in the concussion protocol and is unlikely to play again in 2o17. Houston is under fire for the way it handled Savage’s head injury last week, and Savage will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so it is best for all parties involved that Savage simply sit out the last three games of the year.
  • We head back in October that Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had not made any decision as to whether his career will continue past the 2017 season, and La Canfora reports that the team is preparing in case Arians decides to call it quits. Sources close to Arians believe he will not be back in 2018, and given the number of teams that will be looking for a new head coach this offseason, the Cardinals must be prepared in case they are also in need of a head coach.
  • The NFL has confirmed the the Browns complied with the Rooney Rule in their hiring of GM John Dorsey, but the Fritz Pollard Alliance is still concerned with how the process unfolded. The Alliance spoke with commissioner Roger Goodell about the matter prior to last week’s ownership meetings, and it emphasized that all interviews with minority candidates should be reported to Alliance or to the league, which Cleveland did not do when it interviewed Doug Whaley for the GM job. Whaley, meanwhile, was reportedly “crushed” by the process, as he believed he had a legitimate shot at the job only to realize that the Browns were interviewing him simply to comply with the Rooney Rule.
  • Goodell’s new extension runs through the 2024 season, but he hopes to have his successor in place by 2020. If that successor has made sufficient progress, it is possible that Goodell steps aside prior to 2024. La Canfora adds that sweeping changes will be made to the league office in 2018, including changes to football operations at the upper-management level across several departments.
  • There is “growing support” among league owners for reverting to the pre-2009 gameday operations schedule, which means that players would not be mandated to be on the sidelines for the national anthem at primetime games. Owners are also considering making the anthem earlier, at a time when the sidelines are often vacant.

Latest On Roger Goodell

On Wednesday, we got some conflicting word on Roger Goodell‘s future plans. First, the league’s spokesperson told reporters that Goodell viewed his new extension, which ends in 2024, as his last contract. Then, hours later, Goodell himself said that he hasn’t “made any determinations” about when he’ll retire as commissioner. Which way will Goodell go? Perhaps neither. Roger Goodell (vertical)

Goodell has told owners that he will step away after he guides the league through the upcoming CBA and TV negotiations, two people familiar with the league’s inner workings tell Mark Maske of the Washington Post. It’s possible that he’ll retire before the conclusion of his new deal, those sources say.

In 2024, Goodell will be 65 and he’ll have served nearly 18 years as commissioner. With tons of money in the bank, it would make sense for Goodell to either retire at that point or get a head start by relinquishing the throne sooner.

I think there is a limit to how many years you should serve in this position,” Goodell said. “That’s a determination that’s made obviously with the ownership and also by yourself and your family. That’s something that we’ve done and I’m prepared and ready to go.”

Goodell’s successor, Paul Tagliabue, retired just before his 66th birthday and served as the NFL’s commissioner for 17 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Roger Goodell To Retire In 2024

Roger Goodell has himself a new five-year extension. And this deal, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart says, will be his last. In 2024, Goodell will step aside and the NFL will appoint a new commissioner. However, Goodell himself claims he hasn’t “made any determinations” on whether this will be his last contract as commissioner, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.Roger Goodell (vertical)

Goodell has earned hundreds of millions of dollars as commissioner – not counting his new $200MM deal – and dealt with countless headaches, so it’s no surprise to hear that he has a retirement date in mind. In what is likely a concession towards Jerry Jones, Goodell will not receive post-retirement benefits (via Dan Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, on Twitter) and 90% of his new contract will be incentive-based.

The commissioner must now focus on guiding the league through the next round of CBA negotiations and fixing his legacy. The NFL’s domestic abuse issues brought a great deal of scrutiny on the league office and Goodell’s attempts to counterbalance that with harsh punishments have not always been well received. He also drew fierce criticism for his handling/bungling of the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal.

It may be hard for Goodell to win fans back, but he has about six years to replace those bad memories with good ones. Then again, it’s not necessarily Goodell’s job to win fan approval. Some would say that a large part of Goodell’s job is to be the fall guy for the owners’ controversial decisions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell

Before Roger Goodell formally signed an extension that will keep him as the NFL’s commissioner until the start of the 2024 league year, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones proposed a resolution that would have delayed negotiations for six months, according to a memo obtained by Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com.Jerry Jones (vertical)

The proposal was included in an agenda for this week’s league meetings, per Wickersham, and called for a secret vote on a six-month moratorium on Goodell’s extension. While the resolution obviously failed (and Jones failed to organize any compelling level of anti-Goodell support among his fellow owners), Jones will still be able to voice concerns among Goodell’s contract when the league convenes Wednesday. Indeed, owners are “bracing” for Jones to attempt “one last play” to circumvent Goodell’s deal at the league meetings, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

 “I’m not going to get into details,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. “But the resolution I put in is still in place. This is why we have the meetings. I am looking forward to it. It will be a great opportunity. We will able to get some meaningful things done because of what we have been doing over the last few months.”

Jones’ battle against Goodell isn’t a new fight, of course, as the Cowboys owner has claimed the league’s owners were “misled” by the commissioner’s new deal. While Jones’ angst has generally been directed at compensation committee chairman Arthur Blank, Jones is also reportedly upset over Goodell’s decision to suspend Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Hackenberg, Jets

Jerry Jones offered a measured response to Roger Goodell‘s new extension when asked about it on Friday morning.

“No, I don’t really [have any comment],” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (transcript via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). “We’re having a very important [owners] meeting here in Dallas next week beginning Wednesday. That’s very meaningful. I’m looking forward to that. That’ll be very meaningful as we go forward. One of the things that I think that has been mentioned is any role that I might have had in the extension of Roger. As you know, I’ve been on both ends of it as far as any criticism. It’s been my experience in 30 years in the NFL that to make change and to make positive change — every time we all strive to make the NFL better, I include every owner with that — it’s hard. It’s very, very hard. If you really want to make some changes, you usually end up getting a lot of criticism along the way. It’s happened every time with me when we’ve had meaningful change. … We’ll see how it goes forward, but there’s nothing that has surprised me here.”

While Jones seethes behind closed doors, let’s take a look at the latest from the East divisions:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com spoke with people around the league to size up some potential candidates for the Giants‘ GM vacancy. The names he’s hearing include Eliot Wolf (Packers), Nick Caserio (Patriots), Scott Pioli (Falcons), Trent Kirchner (Seahawks), Dave Gettleman (ex-Panthers GM), Louis Riddick (currently with ESPN), and internal candidates Kevin Abrams and Marc Ross.
  • Can Christian Hackenberg still be the Jets‘ quarterback of the future? The former second round pick has yet to see the field, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News won’t rule out the possibility that he could be in the mix next season. For his part, Hackenberg admits that he is anxious to take an NFL snap. “In order to grow and learn, you need to get hit in your mouth,” Hackenberg said. “You need to fail. Then you grow from that. There’s really no intimidation. I got to experience things. I felt like I experienced a lot of really good things this preseason and some things I need to learn from. That’s all part of the process. If you don’t experience both ends of the spectrum, you’re not getting everything out of the adventure.”

NFL Extends Roger Goodell’s Contract

Finally, Roger Goodell has his extension. The league’s Compensation Committee has told all owners that a new contract for the commissioner has been executed, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT (Twitter link). It’s a five-year extension, taking Goodell to the start of the 2024 league year (Twitter link via Albert Breer of The MMQB). Roger Goodell (vertical)

It has been an arduous few months for Goodell. Initially, it seemed that the commissioner’s new contract would be inked in the summertime. However, the anti-Goodell campaign from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones threw a wrench into things. While Jones was not technically a member of the six-man Compensation Committee, he was regarded as an unofficial seventh member. Using his influence, Jones helped to galvanize a small group of owners against a lucrative new contract for Goodell – or, at least, invite new scrutiny into the pact. But, it seems that he lost momentum as time went on. Florio hears that Jones “had four or five other owners on his side, at most.”

In a memo to all 32 owners, the league says that there was a “nearly unanimous consensus” among all owners to finalize the deal. With the support of his fellow committee members, Falcons owner Arthur Blank signed the “binding contract extension” on Wednesday afternoon.

While Jones is presumably unhappy about the extension, he may come away with a separate victory. For a long time, Jones has railed against the high salaries of executives in the league office. Already, buyouts have been offered to senior officials and the NFL may scale back its budget for investigations, such as the one that resulted in Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game ban.

Goodell’s new deal, which will keep him in place beyond the next round of CBA negotiations, could be worth as much as $200MM.

Here is the complete text of the Compensation Committee to all owners, via PFT:

In recent days, we have spoken with each of you regarding the status of the negotiations to extend Commissioner Goodell’s employment contract. In the course of those discussions, we have reviewed with you the details of the contract extension. Our Committee unanimously supports the contract and believes that it is fully consistent with “market” compensation and the financial and other parameters outlined to the owners at our May 2017 meeting, as well as in the best interests of ownership. We also have expressed in those conversations our strong belief that we should proceed to sign the agreement now, consistent with the unanimous May resolution and to avoid further controversy surrounding this issue. We are pleased to report that there is a nearly unanimous consensus among the ownership in favor of signing the contract extension now.

Accordingly, this will advise the ownership that a binding contract extension has been signed by the Commissioner and by Arthur Blank, on behalf of the League entities.

We are pleased to have resolved this issue and we appreciate the strong support received from our partners. It was particularly gratifying to hear so many owners commit to being more engaged in league affairs and to express the desire to work more closely with the Commissioner and League staff on matters critical to the League. We know that we speak for all of you, as well as for the Commissioner, in saying that the NFL is strongest when our ownership is active and unified.

We look forward to seeing each of you at the Special Meeting in Dallas on December 13th and to working together, as a partnership, to address the important issues facing the League.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell

League owners may have found a way to give Roger Goodell a new contract while placating Jerry Jones. The solution may be to slash other high salaries at the league office and reduce the money spent on NFL investigations and lawsuits, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. Jerry Jones (vertical)

Other owners share Jones’ sentiments about the spending at the league’s Park Ave. headquarters, so this could easily be ratified at the next owner’s meeting on Dec. 13 at Texas. Jones would be less-than-thrilled about Goodell getting his lucrative new extension, but he doesn’t have much say in the matter. Although he still wields a great deal of influence, the league says that the decision on Goodell’s contract will be made solely by the Compensation Committee, a group comprised of six other owners.

There was some talk about an informal meeting taking place in December that could effectively solidify Goodell’s contract. In comments made to 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, Jones sounded confident that nothing would be agreed upon until the full meeting.

We’re going to have a meeting here in Dallas in about 10 days on the 13th,” Jones said (transcript via PFT) . “We should have a real good airing out of some of the things that we’ve been reading about, and in the meantime I’ve been having a lot of conversations with a lot of owners.”

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Cousins, Cowboys

The Redskins are reportedly no longer considering the $28.8MM transition tag for Kirk Cousins in 2018. Instead, Washington wants to evaluate the quarterback down the stretch of the season to determine whether it wants to use the $34.5MM franchise tag on him, sign him to a long-term deal, or allow him to test free agency unencumbered. That’s just fine with Cousins.

You know, I can understand the unique situation that it is, and you’re trying to find value in every player at every position,” Cousins told 106.7 The Fan (transcription via Chris Lingebach of CBS DC). “If you still need five more games, or five-plus, to make a decision, so be it, but I’d like to think that I’ve played a lot of football here. I’ve been here six years and I think the people in the building have gotten to know me, who I am as a man, who I am as a football player, what I’m about and who I’m gonna be going forward and I’d like to think they can make an informed decision regardless. But if they need five more games, so be it, but I understand the need to find value and understand what you’re getting.”

At 5-6, the Redskins have just a 6.7% chance of reaching the postseason, per Football Outsiders, but there is still plenty riding on these final games.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Recently, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated that he was backing down from his lawsuit threat against the NFL because the league promised to “get input from all the owners” on Roger Goodell‘s new deal, rather than leaving it up to just the Compensation Committee. No such deal has been made, however, according to NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart. Lockhart reiterated that the six-man committee has the sole power to approve an extension for the commissioner (link via PFT).
  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden says defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remains on course for returning from injured reserve this season (link via ESPN.com’s John Keim). Allen, who has missed the bulk of the season with a Lisfranc injury, can be activated off IR for the Week 15 game against the Cardinals.
  • Eagles defensive Brandon Graham registered his seventh sack of the season on Sunday and that triggered a $250K incentive in his 2017 contract, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. By hitting that milestone, he also boosted his 2018 salary by $250K.
  • On Tuesday, the Giants announced that Eli Manning will be benched this week in favor of Geno Smith.