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2020 NFL Season
101st season of the National Football League (NFL)
2020 National Football League season
September 10, 2020 (2020-09-10) - January 3, 2021 (2021-01-03)
The season has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, though the regular season began as scheduled. The most prominent changes were the cancellation of all preseason games and the 2021 Pro Bowl, the suspension of international games for the year, an allowance for players to opt out of playing the season without violating their contracts (66 players opted out), the playing of games with either a greatly reduced audience or no fans at all, and the postponement of multiple games due to COVID-19 cases among players and staff.
The 2020 NFL League year and trading period began on March 18. On March 16, teams were allowed to exercise options for 2020 on players with 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 2019 contracts and 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 16, clubs were allowed to contact and begin contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.
RB Darren Sproles - Three-time Pro Bowler, two-time First-Team All-Pro and Super Bowl LII champion. Played for the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans, and Philadelphia during his 15-year career.
OT Joe Staley - Six-time Pro Bowler and three-time Second-Team All-Pro. Played for San Francisco during his entire 13-year career.
CB Aqib Talib - Five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro (one first-team, one second-team), and Super Bowl 50 champion. Played for Tampa Bay, New England, Denver, and the Los Angeles Rams during his 12-year career.
FS Eric Weddle - Six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro (two first-team, three-second-team). Played for the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore, and the Los Angeles Rams during his 13-year career.
G Marshal Yanda - Eight-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro (two first-team, five-second-team), and Super Bowl XLVII champion. Played for Baltimore during his entire 13-year career.
The Draft took place on April 23-25, via videoconferencing; it was originally scheduled to take place in Paradise, Nevada, but was moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL announced on March 16 that it had canceled the public festivities. On April 5, commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the draft would be held virtually with coaches and GMs conducting it via phone and internet from home due to team facilities also being closed. Goodell unveiled the first-round picks from his home in Bronxville, New York.
The NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) agreed on July 24 to allow players to opt out of playing the 2020 season. A total of 66 players opted out by the August 6 deadline. New England had eight players opt out, the most in the NFL; Atlanta, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Pittsburgh had no players opt out. Players who opted out were not paid for the 2020 season, but received a salary advance of $350,000 for medical opt outs and $150,000 for voluntary opt outs. Players who voluntarily opted out will have their advances taken from their 2021 salary, while players who opted out for medical reasons will not. The following is a list of all players who have opted out:
Referee Walt Anderson was promoted to NFL senior vice president in charge of the officiating training and development program, a newly created position that works independently from the league's head of officiating, Alberto Riveron.Land Clark was promoted to referee to replace Anderson. Clark previously served as a referee in the Pac-12 Conference before joining the NFL in 2018 as a field judge.
Former coach Perry Fewell was named as a league senior vice president of officiating administration. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the officiating department and is the primary contact for coaches' and general managers' officiating questions, among other duties.
The NFL and the NFL Referees Association agreed on August 9 to allow officials to opt out of working the 2020 season. Officials who opted out received a $30,000 stipend and guaranteed job protection to return for the 2021 season. Five on-field officials - line judge Jeff Bergman, back judge Steve Freeman, field judge Greg Gautreaux, field judge Joe Larrew, and back judge Tony Steratore - opted out for the season by the August 13 deadline.
Permanent changes announced prior to season
The following rule changes for the 2020 season were approved at the NFL Owners' Meeting in May 2020:
Extend defenseless player protection to a punt/kick returner who possesses the ball but has not had time to avoid or ward off impending contact with an opponent.
Make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful try attempt.
Prevent teams from committing multiple dead-ball fouls in the fourth quarter or in overtime while the clock is running in an attempt to manipulate the game clock. The clock now starts on the snap following a dead-ball foul. This has been referred to as the "Bill Belichick Rule" for his use of this tactic.
Teams may bring three players back from injured reserve after missing eight games, up from two players.
Temporary rules for 2020 season
The following temporary rule changes were made on September 9 and will only be in place for 2020 and possibly 2021 if COVID-19 protocols remain in place:
A player on injured reserve is allowed to return after missing three games, down from eight.
Teams may return an unlimited number of players from injured reserve throughout the year, instead of the normal limit of three.
Practice squads may include up to 16 players from each team, up from 12.
After 4:00 p.m. ET on the Tuesday of a game week, a team may designate up to four practice squad players as "protected," meaning they are not allowed to sign with another team until after their current team plays its next game.
The NFL has instituted a reserve/COVID-19 list, which is for players who either test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has it. There is no minimum amount of time a player must remain on this list, only until he is medically cleared to play.
The league will administer COVID-19 tests to all players and other essential employees every day of the regular season except game days.
Any player who is on a team's Week 1 roster will earn an accrued season toward free agency as long as he is on full-pay status for at least one regular-season game, down from the normal minimum of six.
Sayers, a running back, spent his entire seven-year career with the Chicago Bears. He was inducted into the Hall in 1977 at the age of 34, the youngest player ever inducted. He died September 23, age 77.
Shula was head coach of the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins for a combined 33 years; he holds the record for both the most regular season wins by a head coach in NFL history (328) and the most total wins including the playoffs (347). Shula was inducted into the Hall in 1997. He died May 4, age 90.
Wilson spent 43 seasons in the NFL, all with the St. Louis, Phoenix and Arizona Cardinals, between 1960 and 2002: 13 as a player and 30 as a front office executive. As a player, Wilson, a free safety, appeared in eight Pro Bowls but never reached the playoffs (excluding one Bert Bell Benefit Bowl appearance). Wilson, a member of the Hall's class of 1978, died September 17, age 82.
The NFL released its regular season schedule on May 7. The season is played over a 17-week schedule beginning on September 10. Each of the league's 32 teams play a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. The regular season will conclude with a full slate of 16 games on January 3, 2021, all of which are intra-division matchups, as it had been since 2010.
Using contingencies similar to those built into the 2011 schedule in the event that season's lockout lasted into September, the 2020 schedule was designed to allow for the possibility that the season could be delayed and shortened in the event that conditions were unsafe to begin play as scheduled. Every game in Week 2 featured teams which share the same bye week later in the season, which would have allowed these games to be made up on the teams' original byes. Weeks 3 and 4 were set up so that there were no divisional games and that every team with a home game in Week 3 will be on the road in Week 4 and vice versa. This would have allowed the NFL to cancel these two weeks without eliminating any divisional games and keeping each team's home and away games balanced. These scheduling changes, along with eliminating the week off before the Super Bowl and moving the Super Bowl back three weeks, would have allowed the NFL to play a 14-game schedule beginning October 29 while still having the Super Bowl in February.
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 division from each conference. The remaining 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 the previous season (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 pairings for 2020 are as follows:
Christmas: As Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday, that week's Thursday Night Football game was moved to a 4:30 p.m. EST start on Christmas Day, December 25, with Minnesota at New Orleans. This will mark the NFL's first Friday game since 2009, which was also a Christmas game.
With the final round of The Masters (whose rights are held by CBS) rescheduled from its normal April date to November 15, CBS was not given any 1:00 pm ET games that day.
Saturday flexible scheduling
When the entire season schedule was released on May 7, the league announced that in both Weeks 15 and 16, two or three of the five designated games would be moved to Saturday, to be broadcast exclusively on NFL Network (four games total) and Amazon Prime (one game). The final times of these games will be announced no later than four weeks prior to game day.
The Indianapolis-Chicago game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. to fill the New England-Kansas City game's original time slot, remaining on CBS.
The Denver-New England game, which was originally scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS, was moved to 4:25 p.m. as part of the NFL's flex scheduling. The game was later postponed to Monday at 5:00 p.m. ET after multiple New England players tested positive for COVID-19. This game was again postponed to October 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET when another New England player tested positive. The game remains on CBS.
The Buffalo-Tennessee game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET, was postponed to Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET due to several positive COVID-19 tests for Tennessee, remaining on CBS.
The Kansas City-Buffalo game, originally scheduled for Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET, was moved to Monday at 5:00 p.m. ET, remaining on Fox and NFL Network, to avoid a situation in which the Bills would play games two days apart.
The New York Jets-Los Angeles Chargers game, originally scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET, was moved to November 22 at 4:05 p.m. ET, remaining on CBS, to accommodate the Week 5 Denver-New England game.
The Miami-Denver game, originally scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET, was moved to November 22 at 4:05 p.m. ET, remaining on CBS, to accommodate Denver-New England.
The Pittsburgh-Baltimore game, originally scheduled for October 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET, was rescheduled for November 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET, remaining on CBS, to accommodate the Pittsburgh-Tennessee game from Week 4.
The Los Angeles Chargers-Miami game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET, was moved to November 15 at 4:05 p.m. ET, remaining on CBS, to accommodate the Denver-New England game from Week 5.
The Tampa Bay-Las Vegas game, originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football, was moved to 4:05 p.m. ET on Fox, due to Las Vegas having multiple positive COVID-19 tests and to ensure a SNF game was available in case this game needed to postponed to a later date. The Seattle-Arizona game, originally scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET on Fox, was moved to SNF.
The Jacksonville-Los Angeles Chargers game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET, was rescheduled for October 25 at 4:25 p.m. ET, remaining on CBS, to accommodate the Denver-New England game from Week 5.
The New York Jets-Miami game originally scheduled for Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET was rescheduled for October 18 at 4:05 p.m. ET, remaining on CBS, to accommodate the Denver-New England game from Week 5. This also eliminated an unusual quirk in the schedule that would have had Miami and the New York Jets play each other in consecutive games, separated by their bye week.
The Los Angeles Chargers-Denver game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET, was moved to November 1 at 4:05 p.m. ET to accommodate the Denver-New England game from Week 5.
^ abChicago wins division tiebreaker over Green Bay based on record vs common opponents.
^ abChicago wins tiebreaker over Seattle based on conference record.
^ abLA Rams wins tiebreaker over New Orleans based on conference record.
^ abWashington wins tiebreaker over Dallas based on head-to-head victory.
^ abNew York Giants wins tiebreaker over Atlanta based on conference record.
^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 2020-21 NFL playoffs are scheduled to begin on the weekend of January 9-10, 2021 with the Wild Card Round. Under the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the playoffs will expand to 14 teams. There will be three Wild Card teams per conference, and only the conference's top seed receives a first round bye. Three games will be played each day.
In the Divisional Round scheduled for January 16-17, the top seed in the conference will play the lowest remaining seed and the other two remaining teams will play each other. The winners of those games will advance to the Conference Championships scheduled for January 24. Super Bowl LV is scheduled for February 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The 2021 Pro Bowl was originally scheduled for January 31 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, on October 14, the game was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Pro Bowl rosters for the 2020 season will still be voted upon, and the league plans to hold a virtual event to honor the players chosen.
This will mark the first time since the 1949 season in which a Pro Bowl is not held.
New Collective Bargaining Agreement
In March, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to a new CBA that will run through 2030. The previous CBA, signed in 2011, would have expired after this season.
expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams beginning this season.
allowing the league to expand the regular season from 16 to 17 games beginning in 2021 at the earliest, along with a corresponding reduction of the preseason from four games to three.
increasing the players' share of the league's overall revenue from 47% to 48% starting in 2021. This will increase to 48.8% if the regular season expands to 17 games.
Increasing team rosters from 53 to 55 players and game day rosters from 46 to 48 players, with a minimum of eight offensive linemen. Practice squads increased from 10 to 12 players in 2020 and will increase to 14 players in 2022.
allowing players to become eligible for pensions after three accrued seasons, down from four previously.
Fully guaranteeing fifth-year options for first round picks if picked up by the team. In addition, the fifth year option salary can rise based on the player's performance in his first three seasons. Previously, it was only tied to when he was selected in the draft.
shortening the drug testing window from four months to two weeks at the start of training camp and eliminating automatic suspensions solely based on positive tests.
establishing a "neutral decision-maker" to replace the NFL Commissioner on ruling most discipline cases.
improving teams' training facilities and establishing a network of hospitals in team's home cities with free healthcare for current and former players.
Washington Redskins' name change
On July 1, Following renewed attention to racial justice in wake of the George Floyd protests, a letter signed by 87 shareholders and investors was sent to sponsors of the then-Washington Redskins and NFL including Nike, FedEx, and Pepsi urging them to cut ties unless the team name was changed. Around the same time, several retail companies began to remove Redskins merchandise from their stores. In response, the team underwent a review of its name and logo. On July 23, the team announced that it would retire its name and logo. The team is playing as the "Washington Football Team" until a permanent name is chosen sometime after the 2020 season.
Shooting of Jacob Blake
In response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, Detroit cancelled its scheduled practice on August 25. Nine other teams cancelled their scheduled practices on August 27. Several teams that did not cancel practice issued statements about unity. The Jacksonville Jaguars cancelled their scheduled afternoon activities.
On September 30, it was reported that ten Tennessee players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Tennessee closed its practice facility through at least October 3 as the team continues testing and contact tracing. Tennessee's most recent opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, also closed their facility as a precaution until they receive more test results. The league postponed Tennessee's October 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to October 25 and later postponed their October 11 game against the Buffalo Bills to October 13.
On October 3, it was reported that New England QB Cam Newton and Kansas City practice squad QB Jordan Ta'amu tested positive for COVID-19. The October 4 New England-Kansas City game was postponed to October 5 in order to determine if there were any additional positive tests on either team, which there were not. New England CB Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 after this game, resulting in New England's October 11 game against the Denver Broncos to be postponed initially to October 12, to allow for additional testing and tracing of New England players and staff. After another Patriots player tested positive, the game was postponed again to October 18. This required the league to reschedule six games across multiple weeks affecting Denver, New England, and four other teams.
On October 21, it was reported that Las Vegas OT Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19. Five other players, who were close contacts of Brown, were also placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. Las Vegas' game against Tampa Bay was moved out of that week's Sunday Night Football game to ensure another game could be played in this timeslot.
On October 24, Buffalo tight end Dawson Knox tested positive for the virus. He and three other players, including all of the team's tight ends except Tyler Kroft (who was tending to the birth of his child and thus never in close contact with Knox), were placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. The Bills played their game against the New York Jets as scheduled, with fullback Reggie Gilliam serving as a backup tight end.
Records, milestones, and notable statistics
Drew Brees broke the career record for pass attempts with his 10,170th attempt. The previous record of 10,169 attempts was held by Brett Favre.
Tom Brady became the third player to attempt 10,000 passes, joining Brees and Favre.
Frank Gore broke the NFL record for the most regular season games played by a running back, with 227. The previous record of 226 was held by Emmitt Smith.
Brady also became the first starting quarterback to win 250 career games (regular season and playoffs).
Dak Prescott became the first quarterback to pass for 400 yards and rush for three touchdowns in a game.
The Atlanta Falcons became the first team to lose a game in which it scored 39+ points without recording a turnover. Teams had previously been 440-0 in these games since turnovers were officially recorded in 1933.
Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback to defeat the same opponent as a member of six different teams after leading Miami to a win over Jacksonville. Fitzpatrick also defeated Jacksonville as a starting quarterback for Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston, and the New York Jets.
Rivera was fired on December 3, 2019, after going 5-7 (.417) in the first 12 games of the season. In 8+ seasons as the Panthers head coach, he went 79-67-1 (.541), with four playoff appearances including three NFC South division titles and one Super Bowl appearance.
Fewell, the defensive backs coach, took over on an interim basis and went 0-4 the rest of the season.
Rhule, who spent the previous seven seasons as college football head coach of Temple and Baylor with a 47-43 (.522) record, was hired on January 7.
Kitchens was fired on December 29, 2019, after going 6-10 (.375) in one season as head coach.
Stefanski, who previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, was hired on January 13. He was on the Vikings staff for 14 years. This is his first head coaching position at any level.
On January 5, the Cowboys announced they would not renew Garrett's contract, which expired January 14. The Cowboys were 85-67 (.559) in 9 seasons under Garrett, making the playoffs 3 times but never advancing past the divisional round.
McCarthy was hired as the Cowboys' new coach on January 6. In 12+ seasons as the Green Bay Packers head coach, he had a record of 135-85-2 (.613) with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl title.
Shurmur was fired on December 30, 2019, after going 9-23 (.281) in two seasons as the Giants' head coach, with no playoff appearances.
Judge was hired on January 8, after serving as the special teams coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2015 to 2019, as well as the wide receivers coach in 2019. This is his first head coaching position at any level.
After an 0-5 start, Gruden was fired on October 7, 2019. He had a 35-49-1 (.418) record for his 5+ season tenure with the organization, with one playoff appearance.
Callahan, the team's assistant head coach/offensive line coach, was previously the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003, with a record of 15-17 (.469) and one Super Bowl appearance; he finished out the 2019 season with a 3-8 (.273) record.
Rivera, who had spent most of the previous nine seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, was hired on January 1, 2020.
After an 0-4 start, O'Brien was fired on October 5. He had a 52-48 (.520) record during his 6+ season tenure with the Texans, with four AFC South titles.
Crennel, the team's associate head coach, was previously the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs, with a combined record of 28-55 (.337) and no playoff appearances. At age 73, he is the oldest head coach in NFL history.
Dorsey and the Browns parted ways on December 31, 2019, after three seasons.
Berry was hired on January 28, 2020 as general manager and executive vice president of football operations. He served as the Philadelphia Eagles' vice president of football operations in 2019, and had worked for the Browns from 2016 to 2018 as vice president of player personnel. At age 32, he is the youngest general manager in NFL history.
O'Brien was officially named general manager of the team during the 2020 offseason, after splitting general manager duties with Easterby, the executive vice president of football operations, and other team executives in 2019. His tenure was lowlighted by trading away star WR Deandre Hopkins.
Easterby took over GM duties for the rest of the season.
Prior to this season, the Buffalo Bills had a buyout window in their lease with their home stadium, allowing them to cancel it for a $29 million fee. The Bills were not expected to opt out of the lease, since plans for a future Buffalo Bills stadium are still in early preliminary discussions as of 2019 and conditions in the lease also prohibited the late founding owner Ralph Wilson and his estate from selling the franchise to anyone who would relocate the team out of Buffalo, which current owners Kim and Terry Pegula have no plans to do. On January 31, the team formally declined the buyout option. Since the Bills chose not to opt out, the team cannot exit the lease until it expires at the end of the 2022 season.
On July 15, New Era Cap Company cancelled its naming rights agreement on the Bills' stadium due to overall financial struggles. The Bills intend to seek a new naming rights sponsor for the stadium, which is known as "Bills Stadium" until a new sponsor is found.
The NFL is allowing teams to admit spectators to games if allowed under local health orders. As of October 23, 16 teams had confirmed plans to admit spectators at a reduced capacity for home games. The majority of teams played without spectators through September and will continue to do so into October. Most teams left open the possibility of spectators later in the season if conditions improve. The Las Vegas Raiders have ruled out spectators for the entire season. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's competition committee assessed that having spectators did not create a competitive advantage despite some coaches and executives disagreeing.
If spectators are admitted, they must wear face masks and may be required to sign a liability waiver. On-field entertainment is prohibited, including cheerleaders, mascots, marching bands, and flag wavers/holders, along with end zone-to-end zone American flag displays. To reduce the proximity of spectators to the field, the league requires the first six to eight rows of seats to be blocked with tarps.Halftime shows may be held, but only off-site.
The NFL initially mandated the use of artificial crowd noise inside all stadiums with attendance below 10,000, consisting of a non-dynamic ambience track that would play at around 70 decibels. The audio is monitored by the league, and teams may face sanctions if they are found to have manipulated it (such as by changing its volume). On September 25, these rules were adjusted, allowing the ambiance to be played at up to 80 decibels. The volume must be determined before the game and remain consistent through the entire game. Also, the minimum attendance required to turn off the crowd noise was reduced to 2,500.
As part of Microsoft's sponsorship of the NFL, a "Fan Mosaic" feature powered by Microsoft Teams will be featured on stadium video boards during select games.
Games with spectators allowed
Will play at least their first two home games behind closed doors.
Played their Week 1 home opener behind closed doors. The team tested stadium operations and protocols by hosting 500 friends, family, and associates in Week 3 in order to determine the capacity limit for the team's Week 5 game.
Current New York state health orders prohibit spectators at any sporting event. Local officials will recommend a 10% capacity, up to 7,000 fans; Governor of New YorkAndrew Cuomo has indicated initial willingness to approve the plan if social distancing is upheld but has not given final approval.
Played with a limited crowd of 500 friends, family, and associates during their home opener, has allowed up to 5,700 spectators--7.5% of Empower Field at Mile High's seating capacity--since Week 3, with the possibility to increase fan attendance later in the season.
In May, the team unveiled a concept for how it would adapt Hard Rock Stadium to suit safety recommendations and restrict attendance to 15,000. The team will admit 13,000 for each home game. On October 7, Governor of FloridaRon DeSantis gave clearance to allow full attendance in stadiums; however, the Dolphins chose to maintain its 13,000 fan limit.
Played behind closed doors for their first three home games. The State of Louisiana gave approval for the Saints to have fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome starting with Week 3; however, the city denied the Saints permission to have fans for their next two games. THe Saints wsere allowed to have up to 3,000 fans in Week 7.
Played their Week 2 home opener behind closed doors; for Week 4, only season-ticket holders who had season tickets since 1998 or earlier were allowed to attend; beginning in Week 6, spectator capacity will be limited to 25%.
Played behind closed doors for their home opener, then will allow a limited amount of fans--between 10 and 15% capacity--for their October home games. The team is tentatively planning to increase their fan capacity to 21% for games in November and December.
Eight teams unveiled uniform changes, ranging from minor adjustments to full rebrands.
Atlanta: On April 8, the Falcons unveiled new uniforms, featuring a matte shell helmet, a larger helmet logo, silver facemasks, new fonts for the numbers, and a prominent "ATL" placed above the numbers. The team returned to black as the primary jersey color. A new alternate jersey features a red gradient.
Cleveland: On April 15, the Browns revealed new uniforms that reverted to the design used prior to 2015. Some elements of the 2015 style were retained, including the brighter shade of orange, the modernized version of block numbers, and brown facemasks.
Indianapolis: On April 13, the Colts announced that serifs were added to their jersey numbers similar to the design used in the 1950s and 1960s and revealed a new modernized wordmark and secondary logo that features the outline of Indiana carved out of a "C". They also introduced a new color, anvil black.
Los Angeles Chargers: On March 24, the Chargers announced that they would eliminate navy blue from their official branding, building on their 2019 change of the primary jersey color to powder blue. They also debuted a modified logo and a new wordmark to reflect this. On April 21, the Chargers revealed new uniforms, which use elements from previous sets, including numbers on the helmets and the addition of a navy blue alternate set.
Los Angeles Rams: On March 23, the Rams unveiled new logos and color scheme. The new colors are brighter shades of the royal blue and gold used on their 1999 throwback jerseys, dubbed "Rams Royal" and "Sol" by the team, respectively. The team's new logo features a stylized "LA" with a ram's horn spiraling out from the top of the "A". The team unveiled new uniforms on May 13. Notable features include the addition of an off-white "Bone" away jersey, team wordmark logo patches on the right side of the chest and a unique fabric for the numbers. The helmet also has a metallic "Rams Royal" colored shell and a new ram horn design to match the logos.
New England: The Patriots former all-blue alternate design became the primary home uniform set, with updated block letters and numbers and blue/red/white socks. A corresponding white jersey was also unveiled and will also be paired with the blue pants. Both uniforms feature truncated shoulder striping as a nod to the "Pat Patriot" uniforms.
Tampa Bay: On April 7, the Buccaneers unveiled new uniforms resembling the ones used from 1997 to 2013, including that design's block numbers, black masks, pewter pants, and all-white road set. Some elements of the previous design remain, including the enlarged flag-and-crossed-swords logo and the secondary ship logo on the sleeves. The team also unveiled an all-pewter alternate uniform.
Washington: On July 23, the franchise announced it would play the season as the "Washington Football Team" and dropped the Redskins logo. However, they retained the color scheme. The team's uniforms essentially remained the same, but without the helmet stripe and with the logo being replaced by the player's jersey number in gold, as well as a "Washington" wordmark on the chest replacing "Redskins."
Dallas: An "Established in 1960" patch to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the team's inception.
Las Vegas: A patch to commemorate the team's inaugural season in Las Vegas.
Miami: A patch to commemorate the death of Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula, featuring his name and the number 347 to signify his NFL record career victories.
This is the seventh year under the current broadcast contracts with CBS, ESPN, 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 continues to air Sunday Night Football, the Kickoff Game, and the Thanksgiving night game. ESPN continues to air Monday Night Football and a Wild Card Game with the latter being simulcast on ABC. ESPN and ABC were also scheduled to air the 2021 Pro Bowl, but the game was canceled. Fox continues to air Thursday Night Football alongside NFL Network.
As of the 2019 season, local stations in markets with NFL teams have been allowed on to air another NFL game opposite the game involving that city's home team on a limited basis. Cities were initially limited to two such games per season. This was expanded to four in 2020.
Although ESPN's current MNF deal expires in 2021 and the contracts with CBS, Fox, and NBC end in 2022, the NFL may begin negotiations on new broadcast deals in 2020. Prior to this season, the league had the option to cancel DirecTV's exclusive contract to air NFL Sunday Ticket, the league's out-of-market sports package. However, the NFL did not opt out.
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of Monday Night Football, ESPN simulcast the September 21, New Orleans at Las Vegas game as a Megacast on ABC (simulcasting the main ESPN broadcast as its first regular season contest since 2005) and ESPN2 airing an alternate broadcast with various guests joining throughout the game.
CBS and NBC acquired rights to the two new Wild Card Round games, with each network paying around $70 million for the additional game. CBS plans to air an alternate broadcast for this game on sister network Nickelodeon, oriented toward a youth audience. NBC will air its game in Spanish on Telemundo.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports renewed its broadcast rights to the NFL under a five-year deal, marking its 25th season of coverage. It also announced that it would devote its multiplex channel Sky Sports Action exclusively to NFL programming and coverage during the season, temporarily rebranding it as Sky Sports NFL. It marks the first time that the NFL has partnered on a league-oriented channel in an international market. ViacomCBS-owned free-to-air channel Channel 5 also acquired rights to air Monday Night Football (marking the league's return to the network for the first time since 2009), with a Los Angeles-based studio show featuring Maurice Jones-Drew, and a weekly magazine show, NFL End Zone, hosted by Cori Yarckin.
On April 29, Amazon renewed its digital rights to Thursday Night Football through the 2022 season, maintaining the existing arrangement to simulcast the 11 games aired by Fox on Prime Video and for free on Twitch, and offer alternative broadcasts of the games on the two services. It also added exclusive worldwide rights to one late-season game per-season, which will be produced by CBS and simulcast on over-the-air stations in the two teams' home markets. Amazon also acquired rights to simulcast the additional AFC Wild Card game assigned to CBS.
This season, the TNF games include a new "Scout's Feed" broadcast featuring extended play analysis by Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, and a new "NFL Next Live" feed on Twitch hosted by Cari Champion and Andrew Hawkins and, which will feature viewer interactivity. The British English broadcasts were dropped this season. For supplemental content, Amazon is expanding its Tuesday-night studio program NFL Next, and introducing two new interactive programs on Twitch -- the Hawkins and Kyle Long-hosted NFL Comment Box, and the Chad Johnson and Kyle Long-hosted The NFL Machine (which will feature presentations of content from the NFL Films archives).
Tony Romo, CBS' lead color commentator, renewed his contract with CBS in a long-term, $17 million per-year deal, the most lucrative contract for a commentator in NFL history.
Broadcasters are allowed up to 46 staff members at each game. Sideline reporters are not allowed on the field. CBS Fox and NBC have commentators on-site, but some production is conducted remotely from the networks' headquarters. The NFL requires personnel returning from outside of the United States to quarantine for 14 days before returning to work; Fox commentator Kenny Albert missed the first two weeks of the season due to this requirement. He previously was in Canada working NBC's coverage of the National Hockey Leagueplayoffs through September 10.
The league is providing an enhanced artificial crowd noise track to be used by its broadcasters, separate from the non-dynamic crowd noise that is used at stadiums below 2,500 in attendance. The soundtrack uses crowd audio collected by NFL Films from past games involving the home team, including general ambience, team-specific chants, and contextual reactions. It is mixed by a local sound engineer at the stadium in synchronization with the game.Fox had explored the possibility of masking empty stands with CGI crowds. Fox introduced such a system on-air for its Major League Baseball broadcasts, and later announced that it planned to employ the technology for selected NFL games.
NBC ruled out virtual fans, citing the large number of camera angles that would have to be configured for it. The network added a 180-degree 8K resolution camera to the Skycam unit for "intimate" overhead views, supplanting wide-angle shots that would expose stands with little to no spectators. At games played with no spectators, CBS plans to allow its Skycam to be in positions over the stands that are not usually allowed in order to provide new angles.
The pandemic has also affected pre-game shows: ESPN's Monday Night Countdown and NFL Network's NFL GameDay Kickoff are not traveling to game sites this season, instead being broadcast from their respective networks' stdios.Fox NFL Sunday panelist Jimmy Johnson announced that he would contribute from his home in Florida, rather than join the rest of the panel at the Fox Sports studio in Los Angeles.