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2019 NFL Season
100th season of the National Football League (NFL)
2019 National Football League season
The NFL's centennial emblem, which will be used throughout 2019
September 5, 2019 (2019-09-05) - December 29, 2019 (2019-12-29)
The 2019 NFL League year and trading period began on March 13. On March 8, teams were allowed to exercise options for 2019 on players who have option clauses in their contracts submit qualifying offers to their pending restricted free agents and submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2018 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agent credit. 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 combined salary cap.) On March 11 clubs were allowed to contact and begin contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.
Free agency began on March 13. Notable players to change teams include:
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata - Five-time Pro Bowl selection, five-time All-Pro (two first-team, three second-team). Played nine years of his 13-year career with the Ravens, with shorter stints with the Lions and Eagles.
In July 2019, the NFL announced that all of the league's officials would return to part-time status. For the previous two seasons, under a pilot program, a small number of NFL officials were classified as full-time employees of the NFL.
The following rule changes have been approved for the 2019 season at the NFL owners' meeting on March 26, 2019:
Make permanent the experimental kickoff rules from the 2018 season.
Abolish all blindside blocks anywhere on the field (personal foul, 15 yards).
Allow as a one-year experiment to make the following plays reviewable, subject to coaches' challenges outside of the final 2:00 of each half, and subject to booth review after the two-minute warning of each half or entire overtime:
Pass interference, whether called or not (modified in June 2019)
Change how double fouls are enforced after a change in possession; the last team to possess retains the ball at the spot of enforcement. If the enforcement spot is after a touchback, the ball is placed at the 20 yard line (after punt) or 25 yard line (free kick). If the spot of enforcement is in the end zone, the ball is placed at the one yard line.
Make scrimmage kick rules apply if a missed field goal is touched in the end zone before hitting the ground, and if the ball is touched by either team behind the line of scrimmage.
Allow teams to enforce a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty committed during a touchdown on either the try (PAT or two point conversion) or on the ensuing kickoff.
Individuals not in uniform who enter the field to celebrate a touchdown, turnover, etc. will draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (15 yards, and automatic first down if on the defensive team).
Players who make any flagrant "football" plays, besides "non-football" plays, risk immediate disqualification.
An additional rule change builds upon a rule originally passed in 2018. The league limited football helmets to a list of 34 league-approved models, up from the 23 originally approved in 2018. The grandfather clause allowing existing players to wear their previous non-approved helmets will expire, and 32 of the league's players will be required to change helmets (most prominently Tom Brady, whose Riddell VSR-4 was one of ten now-banned models still in use in 2018).
In May 2019, the league banned Oklahoma drills, "bull in the ring," and other "high-contact drills" from team practices.
In June 2019 the league clarified the March 2019 temporary rule change regarding review of pass interference plays as follows:
The initial rule passed in March 2019 regarding review of pass interference remains intact.
A ruling will only be changed if there is clear and obvious evidence that pass interference did or did not occur (as is the standard for any other replay review).
All pass plays are subject to review for pass interference, including the "Hail Mary" play.
Bowlen was the owner of the Denver Broncos from 1984 until his death. His Broncos won the Super Bowl thrice during his tenure (XXXII, XXXIII and 50) and, on average, were one of the winningest teams in the NFL. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019. Bowlen died June 13, age 75, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Under the terms of a succession plan, the team will be operated by a trust headed by longtime executive Joe Ellis until it can be determined which of Bowlen's five surviving children will inherit the team.
Buoniconti was an eight-time Pro-Bowl linebacker, and played seven seasons with the Boston Patriots from 1962-1968 and seven more with the Miami Dolphins from 1969-1974 and 1976. He won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins in 1972 and 1973. Buoniconti died on July 31 at the age of 78.
Gregg, an offensive guard, spent 14 years of his 15-season playing career with the Green Bay Packers, a member of the Packers' 1960s dynasty as well as the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl VI winning squad in his final season of play. Gregg was inducted into the Hall in his first year of eligibility as part of the Class of 1977. He also had a less illustrious coaching career in the NFL, college football and Canadian Football League in the late 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s, most successfully leading the 1981 Cincinnati Bengals to an AFC championship and a loss in Super Bowl XVI. Gregg died on April 12 at the age of 85.
Marchetti was a defensive end that played 14 seasons in the NFL. 13 of them were spent with the Baltimore Colts, winning 2 NFL championships, getting selected to 11 Pro Bowls, and making 9 First-team All-Pro with the Colts. Gino was inducted into the Hall with the class of 1972. Gino died on April 29 at the age of 92.
Starr played quarterback for 16 seasons in the NFL from 1956 to 1971, all of them with the Green Bay Packers, and was undisputed starter for the last 12 of those seasons. He was the starting quarterback for the Packers for all five of the NFL Championships the team won in the 1960s and was Most Valuable Player for the first two World Championship Games. He also had a nine-season run as the Packers' head coach from 1975 to 1983, though this was less successful as he only twice had a winning season (one of those being shortened by a strike, which was also his only playoff appearance as a coach). Starr was inducted into the Hall, along with his teammate Forrest Gregg, as a member of the Class of 1977. He died May 26, age 85.
On October 18, 2018, the NFL announced that it would commemorate its 100th season throughout 2019, beginning at Super Bowl LIII. An NFL 100 emblem will be featured in promotions across all NFL properties during the season, worn on jerseys as a patch, placed on game balls, and painted on fields.
The Chicago Bears (who, as the Decatur Staleys, were one of the 14 charter members of the league) will also celebrate their centennial season with commemorative events throughout 2019. On November 15, 2018, the team unveiled a customized version of the league-wide centennial emblem (which will be worn on jerseys in place of the NFL-branded version), and announced that the team would introduce a throwback jersey.
In honor of the site of the first NFL game, the league announced plans to donate a new turf field to Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio--home field of the former Dayton Triangles, with an intent for the Cincinnati Bengals to hold a day of training camp at the site. However, the project was rejected by the city, after concerns were shown that the construction could potentially disturb a Native American burial site, and an archaeological survey identified a "unique and sizable anomaly" in the area that was "potentially prehistoric". The NFL stated that it would donate the turf to a different site in the city. The Bengals still held a training camp day in Dayton, doing so at Welcome Stadium instead.
The league purposely scheduled a weekly game to honor landmark moments in NFL history:
The 2019 regular season's 256 games will be played over a 17-week schedule that will begin on September 5, 2019. Each of the league's 32 teams will play a 16 game schedule, with one bye week. There will be games on Monday nights and on Thursdays, Including the National Football League Kickoff game and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season will conclude with a full slate of 16 games, will be scheduled for December 29, all of which will be intra-division matchups, as it had 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 remaining teams in the same conference that finished in the same position in their respective divisions (e.g., the team that finished fourth in its division will play all three other teams in the conference that also finished fourth). The division parings for 2019 will be as follows:
The entire schedule was released on April 17, 2019.
Highlights of the 2019 season include:
NFL Kickoff Game: The Kickoff Game is scheduled for September 5. The Chicago Bears will host the Green Bay Packers for the game in honor of the Bears' and the NFL's centennial season, a game announced on March 25 ahead of the rest of the schedule. The move breaks with league tradition that gives the defending Super Bowl champion the hosting rights to the first game of the season; the New England Patriots will instead host the Sunday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When the entire season schedule was released on April 17, the league announced Saturday games in Week 16. The final times of these games will be announced no later than Week 8. Of the following five match-ups - 49ers-Rams, Bills-Patriots, Lions-Broncos, Raiders-Chargers, and Texans-Buccaneers - three will be moved to Saturday, December 21 on the NFL Network, while the remaining two games will be played on Sunday, December 22 on either CBS or Fox.
The 2019 Playoffs are scheduled to begin on the weekend of January 4-5, 2020, with the Wild Card Playoff Round. The four winners of these games will visit the top two seeds in each conference in the Divisional Round games, scheduled for January 11-12. The winners of those games will advance to the Conference Championships scheduled for January 19. The 2020 Pro Bowl will be held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando scheduled for January 26. Super Bowl LIV, scheduled for February 2, will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
The start times for the Divisional Round games on Sunday, January 12, will be moved to 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET (as is already the case with the conference championship games), rather than the typical 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. windows used for this round in prior seasons.
Lewis and the Bengals mutually agreed to part ways on December 31 after a 6-10 (.375) season. In 16 years as the Bengals' head coach, Lewis was 131-122-3 (.518), with 7 playoff appearances. Famously, the Bengals never won a playoff game under Lewis and had missed the playoffs in each of his last three seasons. Lewis joined NFL Network as a commentator for Alliance of American Football games shortly after his departure.
Taylor was officially named as head coach on February 5, 2019. This is his first experience as head coach after serving as the Los Angeles Rams' quarterbacks coach and at 35 years old, is now currently the 2nd youngest active coach in the NFL, after Sean McVay, whom coaches Taylor's former team, the Rams.
Jackson was fired on October 29, 2018, accumulating a 3-36-1 (.088) record during his 2½-season tenure with the Browns. Jackson failed to win any away games during his tenure and lost every game in 2017. He rejoined the Cincinnati Bengals as an assistant coach immediately after his firing. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams finished out the 2018 season with a 5-3 (.625) record. Released by the Browns on January 9, 2019, Williams later joined the New York Jets as a defensive coordinator.
Kitchens was promoted to head coach on January 12, 2019, after serving as the interim offensive coordinator following Jackson's firing. This is his first head coaching position.
Joseph was fired on December 31, 2018, after a 6-10 (.375) season. The Broncos were 11-21 (.344) in Joseph's two losing seasons as head coach, with no playoff appearances. He joined the Arizona Cardinals as a defensive coordinator.
Fangio, a first-time head coach with over 30 years experience as an assistant dating back to the USFL, most recently as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, was hired on January 10, 2019.
McCarthy was fired on December 2, 2018, shortly after the Packers' loss to the Arizona Cardinals. McCarthy leaves with a record of 135-85-2 (.613) with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl championship. Philbin, the team's offensive coordinator, finished the season as interim coach with a record of 2-2 (.500).
LaFleur was hired on January 8, 2019. Previously the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2018, this is his first head coaching position.
Gase was fired on December 31, 2018, after a 7-9 (.438) season. The Dolphins were 23-25 (.479) in Gase's three years as head coach, with one playoff appearance in 2016. He was later hired by Dolphins' division rivals, the New York Jets, as head coach.
Flores, formerly the New England Patriots' long time assistant, recently as linebackers coach, was announced as head coach on February 5, 2019. After being with the Patriots organization since their 2004 Super Bowl-winning season, this is his first head coaching position.
Bowles was fired on December 30, 2018, finishing the season with a record of 4-12 (.250) and a cumulative record of 24-40 (.375) with no playoff appearances in four seasons with Jets. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive coordinator.
Gase, who was previously the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, posting a 23-25 (.479) record in three seasons, was hired on January 11, 2019.
Koetter was fired on December 30, 2018, after a 5-11 (.313) season. The Buccaneers were 19-29 (.396) in Koetter's three years as head coach, with no playoff appearances. Previously, Koetter was Buccaneers' offensive coordinator for one season in 2015. He rejoined the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive coordinator.
Arians was announced as the Buccaneers' new head coach on January 8, 2019. He was previously the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons with 49-30-1 (.619) record from 2013 to 2017, leading them to an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2015.
The Ravens announced on February 2, 2018 that Newsome would retire after 16 years as the team's GM and that Eric DeCosta, most recently the Ravens' assistant GM, would succeed Newsome. Newsome was the first African-American to occupy the GM position in the NFL.
McKenzie was fired on December 10, 2018, after six-plus seasons as Raiders' GM. Herock, team's director of college scouting, served as the Raiders' interim GM until the team settled on a full-time replacement.
Mayock had previously been a television commentator for the past 26 seasons and has never held a front office position.
Maccagnan was fired on May 15, 2019 after four seasons; vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger was also dismissed. Head coach Adam Gase was named interim GM.  Douglas was named the new GM on June 7, 2019. 
A buyout window in the Buffalo Bills' lease on New Era Field opens after the 2019 season ends. The window allows the team to cancel its lease on the stadium for a $28 million fee and relocate. If the Bills choose not to exercise the buyout window, they will not be allowed to relocate until the lease expires after the 2022 season.
The Oakland Raiders' lease on Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (renamed RingCentral Coliseum under a naming rights sale in May 2019) expired after the 2018 season. The team is slated to move to Las Vegas, Nevada once Allegiant Stadium is completed; it is currently scheduled to open in 2020. The Coliseum management has expressed a reluctance to allow the Raiders to continue using the Coliseum after the lease expires unless the team pays more to cover the losses the Coliseum incurs by hosting Raiders games. In December 2018, the city of Oakland filed a lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL seeking financial damages and unpaid debt, claiming the proposed relocation is illegal but not asking for an injunction forcing the team to stay. The Raiders have stated that if any legal action were filed against them, that they would not renew with the Coliseum and find another, undetermined, temporary home for 2019 until Allegiant Stadium is finished. The Raiders then attempted to negotiate a lease with Oracle Park in San Francisco before the San Francisco 49ers allegedly vetoed the plan as an infringement on their territorial rights and the mayor of the city spoke in opposition to the Raiders playing there.
With the 49ers refusing to waive territorial rights, the Raiders were forced to either renegotiate with the Coliseum or find a temporary stadium outside the San Francisco Bay Area (something that the Raiders management was reluctant to do, though the team acknowledged and considered bids from San Antonio, Texas and Tucson, Arizona). The Raiders, despite reservations about providing funds to the lawsuit being filed against them, opted to negotiate a return to the Coliseum for 2019; a tentative agreement, pending Coliseum and league approval, was announced February 25. The lease agreement was approved by the Oakland Coliseum Authority, the Oakland city council, and Alameda County supervisors by March 21.
New York Jets: On April 4, the Jets unveiled a new uniform. The new uniforms introduce black as an accent color and resemble a modernized version of the uniform layout the Jets used from 1978 to 1997, including a return to green helmets and "TV numbers" on the shoulders.
Los Angeles Chargers: On April 16, the Chargers announced that they were making their powder blue alternate jerseys the new primary uniforms. In addition to this announcement, they also swapped out their navy blue facemask for gold.
Houston Texans: On April 22, the Texans announced on social media that they would add their primary logo on the back of their jerseys, making this their first uniform update in franchise history. The addition of the logo on the jersey's back makes them the third team in the NFL to do so, after the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers silently switched to Nike's newest uniform template and updated their pants, removing the team logo from it and streamlining the piping stripe.
Chicago Bears: To celebrate their 100th season, the Bears will wear throwback jerseys based on their 1936 uniforms for two home games.
Thirty-one teams will wear a version of the NFL centennial emblem, with the NFL shield beneath the "100", on the yoke of their jerseys in place of the regular NFL shield. The Chicago Bears will instead wear their own centennial team patch, a customized version of the league-wide centennial emblem with the Bear's colors and logo, on the left side of the jersey.
This will be the sixth year under the current broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC. This includes "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season (regardless of the conference of the visiting team). NBC will continue to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff Game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN will continue to air Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl with the latter being simulcasted on ABC. Fox will continue to air Thursday Night Football alongside with NFL Network, with Amazon Video and Twitch.tv continuing to simulcast those games online in the second and final year of the two sites' current contract. Fox will also broadcast Super Bowl LIV.
In November 2018, ESPN announced that it would air coverage for all three days of the 2019 NFL Draft on ABC, replacing Fox's broadcast television simulcast of NFL Network in 2018. ABC's coverage catered towards a mainstream audience and was hosted by the panel of ESPN's College GameDay, while ESPN and NFL Network continued to carry more conventional coverage of the draft.
Under a newly introduced rule change, local stations in markets with NFL teams will be allowed to air another NFL game opposite the game involving that city's home team, something that had previously been forbidden (this rule had already been waived for the Washington, D.C. market when the Baltimore Ravens are playing at the same time as the Washington Redskins on the opposite network - Washington, D.C. is a secondary market for the Ravens, for the Los Angeles market after the Rams' and Chargers' moves to LA and league-wide for Week 17 since 2014). This means that all media markets in the U.S. who have CBS and Fox affiliates will have access to three Sunday afternoon games every week regardless of whether the local team is playing at home.
On February 28, 2019, Jason Witten announced he would be leaving his color commentator position on Monday Night Football after one season, as he would be pursuing a comeback with the Dallas Cowboys, where he had played tight end for fifteen seasons before joining ESPN in 2018. Witten will not be replaced.
Former referee Jeff Triplette also is leaving Monday Night Football as rules analyst. He is being replaced with John Parry, who retired the same day his ESPN position was announced; Parry is the third rules analyst ESPN has hired in two years, following Triplette and Gerald Austin.
Steve Tasker departed CBS after 21 seasons with the network, 20 as a color commentator and one as a sideline reporter, after CBS declined to renew Tasker's contract. Tasker anticipates moving to radio and calling games for Westwood One for the 2019 season.
^Bergman, Jeremy (April 4, 2019). "New York Jets unveil new uniforms, green helmets". NFL.com. NFL Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved 2019. For the first time in over 20 years, the New York Jets will take the field with a new look, to go with their new head coach and high-priced free agents. The Jets unveiled on Thursday evening their new uniforms, helmets and branding for the 2019 season and beyond. Their team colors are "Gotham Green, Spotlight White and Stealth Black."