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2017 NFL Season
98th season in the history of the National Football League
2017 National Football League season
September 7, 2017 (2017-09-07) - December 31, 2017 (2017-12-31)
The 2017 NFL League year began on March 9 at 4:00 p.m. ET. On March 7, clubs were allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who became unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their contracts two days later. On March 9, clubs exercised options for 2017 on players who have option clauses in their contracts, submitted qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts and to whom desire to retain a Right of Refusal/Compensation, submitted a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agent credit, and 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 collected salary cap hit below the actual cap). The 2017 trading period also began the same day.
A total of 496 players were eligible for some form of free agency at the beginning of the free agency period. Notable players to change teams via free agency included:
QB Tony Romo: Four time Pro Bowler and 2014 second-team All-Pro, Romo played his entire 14-year career with the Dallas Cowboys. Shortly after his retirement, Romo joined CBS as a lead NFL game analyst, joining a team also consisting of Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson.
The 2017 regular season's 256 games which were played over a 17-week schedule which began on September 7. Each of the league's 32 teams plays a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. The slate also features games on Monday nights. There are games played on Thursday, including the National Football League Kickoff game in prime time on September 7 and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season concluded with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, December 31, all of which were the intra-division matchups, as it has been since 2010.
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 teams in the team's own conference in the divisions the team was not set to play which finished the previous season in the same rank in their division (e.g. the team which finished first in its division the previous season would play each other team in its conference that also finished first in its respective division). The preset division pairings for 2017 will be as follows.
The entire schedule was released on April 20, 2017.
In-season scheduling changes
The following games were moved or canceled because of severe weather, by way of flexible scheduling, or for other reasons:
Preseason Week 4: Due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, the Cowboys-Texans game was eventually canceled. The 2017 Texas Governor's Cup preseason game, originally scheduled to be played at Houston's NRG Stadium, was initially moved to the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, before the NFL opted instead to cancel the game altogether in order to allow Texans' players and coaches to reunite with their families as well as to assist with the relief efforts.
Week 1: Due to the threat posed from Hurricane Irma, the Buccaneers-Dolphins game was rescheduled to Week 11 (November 19), when both teams were originally scheduled to have their bye weeks. Both teams therefore had their bye rescheduled to this Week 1. This is the first time a hurricane forced a postponement of an NFL game since 2008 when the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans had their game postponed due to Hurricane Ike.
Week 7: The Bengals-Steelers game, originally scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. ET, was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET, with the game still on CBS. In addition, the Panthers-Bears game was cross-flexed from Fox to CBS, with the game still at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Week 12: The Saints-Rams game, originally scheduled to start at 4:05 p.m. ET on Fox, was cross-flexed and moved to 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. In addition, the Titans-Colts game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox, with the game still at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Week 13: The Panthers-Saints game, originally scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. ET, was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET, with the game still on Fox. In addition, the Broncos-Dolphins game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox, with the game still at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Week 14: The Cowboys-Giants game, originally scheduled to start at 4:25 p.m. ET, was moved to 1:00 p.m. ET, with the game still on Fox. In addition, the Seahawks-Jaguars game, originally scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. ET, was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET, with the game still on Fox.
Week 15: The Texans-Jaguars game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox, with the game still at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Week 17: All games with playoff implications were moved to a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff, with no change in network assignment. This included the following games: Bengals-Ravens, Bills-Dolphins, Jaguars-Titans, Panthers-Falcons, and Saints-Buccaneers. Additionally, no Sunday Night Football game was scheduled, marking the first time since the 1977 NFL season that the regular season play concluded with no primetime game. The NFL stated that it did not want to schedule a primetime game that could potentially lose its playoff implications due to the events of the afternoon games.
^ abNew England claimed the No. 1 seed over Pittsburgh based on head-to-head victory.
^ abJacksonville claimed the No. 3 seed over Kansas City based on conference record.
^ abcdTennessee finished ahead of Buffalo, Baltimore and Los Angeles Chargers based on conference record, claiming the No. 5 seed. Buffalo and Baltimore finished ahead of Los Angeles Chargers based on conference record. Buffalo claimed the No. 6 seed over Baltimore based on strength of victory.
^ abOakland finished ahead of Miami based on head-to-head victory.
^ abDenver finished ahead of the New York Jets based on head-to-head victory.
^ abIndianapolis finished ahead of Houston based on head-to-head sweep.
^When breaking ties for three or more teams under the NFL's rules, they are first broken within divisions, then comparing only the highest ranked remaining team from each division.
^ abPhiladelphia claimed the No. 1 seed over Minnesota based on winning percentage vs. common opponents. Philadelphia's cumulative record against Carolina, Chicago, the Los Angeles Rams and Washington was 5-0, compared to Minnesota's 4-1 cumulative record against the same four teams.
^ abLA Rams claimed the No. 3 seed over New Orleans based on head-to-head victory.
^ abNew Orleans clinched the NFC South division over Carolina based on head-to-head sweep.
^ abcDetroit finished ahead of Dallas and Seattle based on conference record, while Seattle finished ahead of Dallas based on head-to-head victory.
^ abGreen Bay finished ahead of Washington based on record vs. common opponents. Green Bay's cumulative record against Dallas, Minnesota, New Orleans and Seattle was 2-3, compared to Washington's 1-4 cumulative record against the same four teams.
^ abTampa Bay finished ahead of Chicago based on head-to-head victory.
^When breaking ties for three or more teams under the NFL's rules, they are first broken within divisions, then comparing only the highest ranked remaining team from each division.
The 2017 playoffs began on the weekend of January 6-7, 2018 with the Wild Card playoff round. The four winners of these playoff games visited the top two seeded teams in each conference in the Divisional round games played on the weekend of January 13-14, 2018. The winners of those games advanced the Conference championship games was held on January 21, 2018. The two Conference champions advanced to Super Bowl LII was held on February 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The 2018 Pro Bowl was held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on January 28, 2018.
During a September 22, 2017 speech, the President of the United States, Donald Trump made controversial remarks criticizing the practice of taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem--a practice popularized by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 as part of an effort to protest alleged racial inequality and police brutality. Trump suggested that those who partake in the practice were disrespecting the country's heritage, and asked his audience, "wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired. He's fired!'" During the subsequent weekend of games, over 200 players protested the remarks, by either kneeling or locking arms during the playing of the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers (with the exception of offensive tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva), Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks chose to not go out on field at all during the anthem.
Sale of the Carolina Panthers
On December 17, 2017, Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, announced he was putting the team up for sale. Richardson had previously indicated the team would be put up for sale after his death (since his only living son left the team in 2009), but an exposé in Sports Illustrated accused Richardson of paying hush money to cover up questionable conduct, including racial slurs and sexually suggestive requests of employees, hastening Richardson's decision. The Panthers' lease on Bank of America Stadium expires after the 2018 season, which would allow any incoming owner to relocate the team out of the Carolinas to another market of their choice without penalty if they so desired.
The following people associated with the NFL (or AFL) died in 2017.
Kennedy, a defensive tackle who spent 11 years with the Seattle Seahawks from 1990 to 2000 and had his number 96 retired by the organization, was a member of the Hall of Fame's class of 2012. He died May 23 at the age of 48, from suspected cardiac problems.
The special teams standout and defensive back played 11 nonconsecutive seasons for the Detroit Lions from 1952 to 1964, winning three championships, and was a member of the Hall's class of 1979. He died May 11 at the age of 86.
was chairman and plurality owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and one of the sons of founding owner Art Rooney, Sr. Having been officially involved with the franchise since 1960, Rooney was a part of all six of the Steelers' Super Bowl victories. In addition to this, Rooney was considered an active and progressive owner in the league's operations, most famously by successfully pushing for the Rooney Rule, an affirmative action policy requiring all NFL franchises to interview persons of color for head coaching vacancies. Concurrently with his role with the Steelers, Rooney also served as United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2014. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, making him and his father the second father-son duo in the Hall behind Tim and Wellington Mara (to whom the Rooneys are related by marriage). Rooney died on April 13 at the age of 84.
Tittle, a quarterback, spent 16 seasons in professional football, two in the All-America Football Conference and 14 in the NFL. He played for the Baltimore (Green) Colts, San Francisco 49ers (as a member of the Million Dollar Backfield) and New York Giants throughout his career. He set several passing records during his time in the NFL and is credited for inventing the alley-oop. He was never able to win a league championship despite three consecutive appearances in the game for the Giants, who retired his number 14. He was a member of the Hall's class of 1971. Tittle died October 8 at the age of 90 from complications due to dementia.
The following rule changes were approved for the 2017 NFL season at the owners' meeting on March 28, 2017:
Defensive players are now prohibited from running toward the line of scrimmage and leaping or hurdling over offensive linemen on field goal or PAT attempts, similar to a change made in college football for the 2017 season. Previously this action was permitted as long as the leaper or hurdler did not land on other players.
Include in the definition of a "defenseless player" receivers tracking the quarterback or looking back for the ball, including inside the legal contact (5 yards from the line of scrimmage) zone.
Egregious hits to the head (similar to the "targeting" rule in NCAA football) will cause the player to risk immediate disqualification.
The replay control center will make the final ruling on reviewed plays instead of the game referee, although the referee can still provide input on reviewable plays.
The sideline replay monitor (the "hood") will be eliminated and replaced with a tablet on the field for the referee to review with the replay control center.
Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle box when the ball is snapped.
Make permanent the rule that players who commit two certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties (throwing punches/forearms/kicking, even if they do not connect, directing abusive, threatening, or insulting language toward opponents, teammates, game officials or league officials, and using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams) in the same game risk automatic disqualification.
Extend for a second season the change in the touchback spot after a kickoff or safety free kick to the 25-yard line.
Make illegal actions that would conserve time penalized by the option for a 10-second runoff inside of the two-minute warning of each half or overtime (previously this only applied in the final minute of each half or overtime).
If a team commits multiple fouls on the same down with the intent of manipulating the game clock, the team will be penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct and the game clock will be reset. This change was made in response to both the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens employing this strategy by intentionally holding the defensive players to allow the game clock to run down or run out (in the case of the Ravens' game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals) during the previous season. A team may NOT be disqualified if it is their second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against them.
In response to the move of Sarah Thomas from line judge to head linesman for the 2017 season, the NFL renamed the officiating position of the head linesman to "down judge".
The following rule changes were approved for the 2017 NFL season at the NFL Spring League meeting on May 23, 2017:
Overtime has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for preseason and regular season games. Playoff games will continue to have 15 minutes for overtime periods.
Restrictions on celebrations have been relaxed, removing penalties for group celebrations, going to the ground to celebrate, or using the ball as a prop.
Teams can bring two players back from injured reserve instead of one.
Teams can now cut their preseason rosters from 90 players to 53 on one day, removing the deadline to get the roster down to 75 players before the final preseason game.
Teams will not be required to give candidates for general manager final say over the 53-man roster.
The ban on teams contacting potential coaching candidates until that candidate's team has been eliminated from the playoffs was tabled.
Records, milestones, and notable statistics
Kareem Hunt finished with 246 total yards and three touchdowns, setting the record for the most total yards in an NFL debut.
Matt Ryan threw for 215 yards giving him 40,073 passing yards in 151 career games, reached 40,000 career passing yards in the fewest games in NFL history, surpassing the previous record held by Drew Brees (152 games).
Julio Jones had 563 catches for 8,649 yards in 90 career games, the most by a player in his first 90 games in NFL history. He passed Anquan Boldin (558) for the most receptions and Lance Alworth (8,502) for the most receiving yards.
Eli Manning became the eighth quarterback to lose 100 starts and the first to do so with one team.
By defeating the Buffalo Bills, Tom Brady broke the record for most wins by a quarterback against one team, with 27. The record was previously held by Brett Favre, who had defeated the Detroit Lions 26 times.
Larry Fitzgerald moved into fourth place all-time in receiving yards, passing Isaac Bruce. With his ten catches in this game, Fitzgerald also surpassed 1,200 career receptions becoming the third player in NFL history to reach this mark (joining Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez) and the fastest player to reach this milestone in 214 games (breaking Rice's record of 221 games).
Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 500 yards in three different games.
LeSean McCoy surpassed 10,000 career yards in rushing, becoming the 30th player in league history to reach the milestone.
The New England Patriots have won at least 12 games in eight consecutive seasons, surpassing the 2003-09 Indianapolis Colts for the longest such streak in NFL history.
Drew Brees threw for 239 yards and now has 70,200 career passing yards. He joins Peyton Manning (71,940) and Brett Favre (71,838) as the only players in NFL history to reach 70,000 passing yards. Brees reached the milestone in his 248th career game and is the fastest in league history to accomplish the feat. Brees also eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark for his 12th consecutive season extending his own record.
Marcus Mariota attempted a pass, which was deflected by Darrelle Revis, right back into the hands of Mariota who promptly ran it in for a touchdown, making him the first quarterback in NFL postseason history to complete a touchdown pass to himself. This also made him the first player in the Super Bowl era with passing and receiving touchdowns in the same playoff game.
The Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles combined for several Super Bowl records including, 42 first downs passing, 1,151 total yards, 874 passing yards, fewest punts in the game with one, and four missed PAT conversions. The 1,151 total yards set a record for the most combined yards in any NFL game (regular or post-season)
Ryan was fired with one week remaining in the 2016 regular season and a 15-16 record with no playoff appearances in two seasons. His twin brother, assistant head coach Rob Ryan, also was dismissed. Ryan signed on as a commentator for ESPN, replacing Trent Dilfer, while Rob Ryan took the 2017 season off. Lynn began the 2016 season as running backs coach, then moved to offensive coordinator when Greg Roman was fired in week 3, then interim head coach after the Ryans' dismissal. Lynn lost his one game as interim head coach. Former Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was named as the Bills' new head coach on January 11, 2017. Meanwhile, Lynn was hired as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Kubiak retired from coaching after two seasons due to health concerns, with a victory in Super Bowl 50 and a 24-10 record, including postseason games. Kubiak would later return to the Broncos six months later, working for their front office as a Senior Personnel Advisor.
Joseph, who spent the previous season as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator, was hired on January 11, 2017.
Bradley was fired with two weeks remaining in the 2016 season and a 14-48 (.226) record with no playoff appearances in four seasons. He joined the Chargers as defensive coordinator. Marrone, the Jaguars' offensive line coach, was previously head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14; he went 1-1 in his two games as interim head coach of the Jaguars. On January 9, 2017, the Jaguars announced that Marrone would be named permanent head coach.
Fisher was fired after going 4-9 through the first 13 games of the 2016 season, and 31-45-1 (.414) in his five-year tenure in St. Louis and Los Angeles. Under his tenure, the Rams never finished better than 7-8-1 and never reached the playoffs. Fassel, the son of former NFL head coach Jim Fassel, has been the Rams' special teams coach since 2012; he went 0-3 in the interim, and remained on the Rams staff in that role for 2017. On January 12, former Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay was named head coach. McVay is the grandson of former San Francisco 49ers GM John McVay. At the time of his hiring, McVay was age 30, making him the youngest head coach (excluding the player-coaches of the 1920s) in NFL history.
Kelly was fired after one season with a 2-14 record. Kelly spent the 2017 season out of football, then took the head coaching position at UCLA beginning in 2018. Shanahan, who most recently served as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator, was named the new coach of the 49ers on February 6, 2017.
McAdoo became the Giants' head coach in 2016, leading the Giants to a 13-15 (.464) record over the course of parts of two seasons. After accruing a 2-10 (.167) record and benching popular starter Eli Manning (who at the time held the longest active streak as a starting NFL quarterback) during the season, he was fired on December 4, and replaced in the interim by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was previously the St. Louis Rams' head coach from 2009-2011.
Baalke, who spent the past twelve years with the team, informed KNBR-AM in San Francisco on January 1, 2017, that he had been fired. On January 29, 2017, Lynch, a former player and broadcaster, was named the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers; it is his first front office position.
Coughlin, the team's inaugural head coach, was rehired as executive vice president of football operations on January 9, 2017. He had spent the 2016 season out of football after several years of coaching the New York Giants.
Grigson was relieved of his duties as Colts general manager on January 21, 2017. On January 30, 2017, Chris Ballard, who had spent the past four seasons as director of football operations for the Kansas City Chiefs, was named the new GM of the Colts.
Whaley was fired the morning of April 30, 2017, immediately following the draft. He had spent seven seasons with the Bills, four of them as general manager. Brandon Beane, who had spent the previous 19 seasons with the Carolina Panthers (most recently as assistant general manager), was hired as the new general manager on May 9, 2017.
Dorsey was unexpectedly fired on June 22, 2017, after four seasons. Brett Veach, who had spent the past four seasons as the Chiefs co-director of player personnel, was promoted to general manager on July 10, 2017.
Gettleman was also unexpectedly fired after four seasons on July 17, 2017.Marty Hurney, who was the Panthers' GM from 2002 to 2012, was rehired as the interim general manager for the 2017 season and was later named general manager on a permanent basis.
Having been in the organization since 1994, Reese was the Giants GM since 2007, leading them to two Super Bowl championships and several years of success. He was fired on December 4 along with head coach Ben McAdoo. He was replaced in the interim by former Detroit LionscornerbackKevin Abrams, who has no previous front office experience.
Brown was fired on December 7. Brown, who had served as the team's lawyer since 2013, was given the duties of general manager in 2016 despite no prior experience in football. He was considered responsible for trading away the high round draft picks that ended up being Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. In addition, he failed to follow through on a trade for Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron, which was contributed to him simply failing to inform the league of the trade in time. Later that day, the Browns named former Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey as their new GM. As general manager in Kansas City from 2013-16, the Chiefs recorded a 43-21 (.672) record.
The Los Angeles Rams, who had capped season ticket sales at 55,000 for the 2017 season, announced to have 60,128 spectators in the first home game on week 1. However, reports estimate that spectators only filled a third of the 93,607 seats of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Los Angeles Chargers did not sell out their week 2 game at the StubHub Center, which was never expanded to 30,000 seats as originally stated and has typically had less than 26,000 fans in attendance. When the StubHub Center was at capacity, the majority of the fans present were supporters of the opposing team, with the October 1 home game against the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles being a mainly pro-Philadelphia crowd.
The Los Angeles teams were not the only ones with visible attendance problems. The San Francisco 49ers reported a Week 3 attendance total that exceeded the capacity of Levi's Stadium, even as wide swaths of empty seats were visible in the stadium throughout the game. This followed similar sparse attendance for the 49ers' home opener. Even the Dallas Cowboys, a team whose fan base is among the largest in the United States, played their week 13 Thursday Night Football game in front of a half-empty AT&T Stadium. The lifting of the league's blackout policy was cited as one factor in the decline in ticket sales, as viewers would rather watch from the comfort of their homes, especially when weather conditions were less than ideal. At a Buffalo Bills/Indianapolis Colts game held in blinding lake-effect snow on December 10, scalpers said they had not sold any tickets, an extreme rarity. Indeed, a majority of television sets in all Western New York were tuned into some portion of the game, the highest viewership for a non-Super Bowl NFL game in the region since record-keeping began.
The Detroit Lions unveiled new uniforms on April 13, 2017, eliminating all black elements from the uniform and logo. They added a new alternate uniform as well as a new Color Rush uniform.
The Los Angeles Rams announced they would be switching their primary helmets to white and blue, similar to their Color Rush helmets. The team had fans vote on the color of their facemask, which would be white, and the design of their pants, which would be white with a blue stripe. The Rams also announced that they would explore a full rebrand in the near future.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will wear a patch to honor their former chairman, the late Dan Rooney, who died in April, at the age of 84. The patch will feature a shamrock, with Rooney's initials "DMR". The last time the Steelers wore a jersey patch was when Art Rooney died in 1988. They also donned a helmet decal to honor Chuck Noll, who died in 2014.
The Dallas Cowboys will wear blue jerseys at home on a more regular basis, marking the first time the team has worn blue jerseys at home outside of Thanksgiving games since the NFL allowed teams to wear white jerseys at home in 1964. Despite the team's well-documented blue jersey "jinx", player preference as well as stronger retail sales of the navy blue jerseys over the white ones have prompted the team's decision. The blue jerseys will be worn for "high-profile" games at AT&T Stadium.
All current and former Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winners will wear a patch on their jerseys in perpetuity to acknowledge to recognize their outstanding contributions to the game and to their communities. Similarly, current nominees will wear a decal on their helmets for the rest of the season.
The Atlanta Falcons wore their all red color rush jerseys with black numbers against the Saints on December 7, 2017. The numbers were a classic form of numbers. The alternate has the regular Falcon unlike the other alternate. The regular Atlanta Falcons' alternate is a black jersey, with a black helmet, and on the black helmet is the original Falcons logo.
This was the fourth season under the current broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This included "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday Afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season (regardless of the conference of the visiting team). NBC continued to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game, and broadcast Super Bowl LII. ESPN continued to air Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl. This also was the second and final year of the current Thursday Night Football contract with CBS, NBC, and NFL Network.
Along with ESPN's Wild Card game on ABC, ESPN announced on May 24, 2017, that the 2018 Pro Bowl would also be simulcast on ABC, marking the return of the Pro Bowl to ABC for the first time since 2003. For the first 9 weeks of the regular season, ESPN2 simulcast ESPN Deportes' Spanish-language Monday Night Football broadcasts; this served as filler programming for the channel until the start of its Monday-night college basketball broadcasts.
Although never explicitly announced, the league continued the moratorium on its blackout policy, ensuring all games would be televised in the market of their home teams regardless of ticket sales.
Because of fog and smoke obstruction, NBC was forced to televise large portions of two of their Sunday Night Football games from the skycam angle. Positive reception led NBC to experiment with increased usage of the angle as a primary view during its November 16 and December 14 Thursday Night Football telecasts. Because the angle distorts distance, the traditional sideline camera angle was used for close-yardage situations such as the red zone.
In over-the-top rights, Amazon Video acquired non-exclusive streaming rights to the 10 broadcast television Thursday Night Football games for $50 million. These streams are exclusive to paid Amazon Prime subscribers, in contrast to Twitter, which held the rights to the same package in 2016 and had made those streams free to most of the world.
Verizon Communications acquired international streaming rights to an NFL London Game between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, in a similar arrangement to the 2015 game that was streamed by Yahoo!--which was acquired by Verizon in 2017. The game was streamed by Yahoo and other Verizon-owned platforms, including AOL, go90, and Complex.NFL Network remains a partner with Twitter for online content, including its new streaming news program NFL Blitz Live. The NFL also reached a deal with Facebook in September 2017 to offer video highlights following games, and streaming programs on the service's new Watch platform.
This was the final season of the NFL's exclusive mobile streaming contract with Verizon Wireless; the league intended to no longer have a single exclusive partner going forward, citing changes to viewing habits. On December 11, 2017, the NFL announced that it had agreed to a new 5-year, $2.5 billion digital rights agreement with Verizon, allowing it to stream in-market Sunday afternoon games, as well as all nationally televised games, across its mobile platforms. Unlike the previous deal, these streams are no longer exclusive to Verizon Wireless subscribers, as Verizon planned to leverage the divisions of its digital media subsidiary Oath (including the aforementioned Yahoo) as a platform to promote these streams to a larger audience, as well as other digital content and expanded highlights rights. As part of the agreement, Verizon began allowing access to its existing mobile streams to non-customers for the 2017-18 playoffs. As the new contract is non-exclusive, the NFL's television partners may negotiate to add the mobile streaming rights that were reserved to Verizon under the previous contract; NBC was the first to do so.
Two new international digital rights deals led to user criticism over their quality of service. In Canada, NFL Sunday Ticket shifted from distribution through television providers to the over-the-top provider DAZN, while in Europe, Deltatre took over European distribution of NFL Game Pass and launched new mobile apps. Both services faced criticism over their streaming quality, while Delatre's app faced criticism for having bugs and initially lacking features seen in the previous version of the platform. The Independent exposed that Deltatre had also issued an internal e-mail instructing its employees to give the apps 5-star reviews. DAZN subsequently announced that it would return to distributing Sunday Ticket through Canadian television providers in addition to their OTT service.
The league has sought to reduce the number of standard commercial breaks (media timeouts) on its telecasts from 21 to 16, four in each quarter, with each break extended by one additional 30-second commercial. One particular scenario the league sought to eliminate is the "double-up," in which a network cuts to a commercial after a scoring play, then airs the kickoff, and again goes to commercial before play from scrimmage resumes. Under the proposal, the league will allow networks to cut to commercial during instant replay reviews, which it had not been allowed to do before. Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the changes are being made in an attempt to consolidate downtime between the actual game play so that there are fewer and less noticeable interruptions; he does not expect the changes to have an appreciable impact on the real-time length of a game, which currently clocks in at slightly over three hours.
The NFL has also, as a trial, lifted its ban on the broadcast of commercials for distilled spirits during its telecasts. However, they are subject to restrictions; a maximum of four liquor ads may be broadcast per-game, along with two per-pregame and postgame show. These ads may not contain football-related themes or target underage viewers, and must contain a "prominent social responsibility message".
Tony Romo, who announced his retirement as a player on April 4, 2017, joined CBS, where he replaced Phil Simms as lead color commentator. Simms and Nate Burleson, who comes over from NFL Network, will replace Tony Gonzalez and Bart Scott on CBS's pregame show, The NFL Today.Jay Cutler also announced his retirement from professional football on May 5 and was slated to join Fox as a color analyst for its NFL coverage; he later rescinded that announcement in August and joined the Miami Dolphins. Gonzalez will move to Fox, where he will join Fox NFL Kickoff; upon his departure, Gonzalez stated that he wished to pursue opportunities closer to his home in California, rather than travel to New York weekly to appear on CBS. James Lofton, coming over from radio, will replace Solomon Wilcots as a CBS analyst.
On May 31, 2017, it was announced that Mike Tirico would replace Al Michaels on play-by-play on NBC's portion of the Thursday Night Football package, joined by Cris Collinsworth. The NFL had previously required this role to be filled by NBC's lead broadcast team of Michaels and Collinsworth; Tirico called a limited slate of games in 2016, including several NBC-broadcast games as a fill-in for Michaels (who voluntarily took several games off due to the increased number he was calling that season), and as part of a secondary team for selected games the TNF package. He will also succeed Bob Costas as the lead studio host for NBC. However, due to its proximity to the 2018 Winter Olympics (where he also succeeded Bob Costas as lead host), Tirico did not participate in NBC's Super Bowl LII coverage.
Beth Mowins became the second woman to call play-by-play for a national NFL broadcast, following Gayle Sierens in 1987, when she served as play-by-play announcer for the nightcap in ESPN's Week 1 Monday Night doubleheader, with Rex Ryan as her color commentator. In an unusual case of a broadcaster working for two networks in the same season, Mowins also called a regional game for CBS in Weeks 3, 15 and 17, with Jay Feely as her partner.
^Pergament, Alan. Bills game rating is second-highest here since 2000. The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 11, 2017. "Nielsen said the game ended at 4:22 p.m. That eliminated the 51.2 rating from 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. from the equation because Nielsen counts only 15-minute time periods if they are 7 minutes and 30 seconds or longer. If the 4:15 p.m. period had been included, the Bills game would have averaged a 47.0 rating, a tenth of a point ahead of the Cleveland-Bills game."