Offseason overhaul close to happening

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Yes, the NFL offseason will be changing.  But not the way the NFL had envisioned.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the league and the NFLPA are on the verge of a deal that would move the draft to May, something the league has wanted.  The change would apply to at least the next three years.

It’s unclear when in May the draft would occur, but it’s safe to assume that the draft would fall in the window for the Nielsen’s ratings sweeps.

The quid pro quo apparently will come from the movement of the start of the league year (and in turn the launch of free agency) from after the Scouting Combine to before it.  While at first blush this suggests the new league year will land in February, the more likely outcome is that the Scouting Combine will happen in March.

Regardless of the precise dates for the Scouting Combine, the change means that the Combine no longer would be the league’s annual tampering swap meet.  The market already would be open, and agents would be trying to do deals with teams instead of merely laying the foundation for those deals in a way that violates NFL rules.

The league had wanted to move the Combine to March, to delay the launch of free agency to April, and to nudge the draft to May.  The NFLPA wisely balked, since it would delay the transfer of offseason funds from teams to players.

Instead, free agency (and the “signing day” concept the NFL is developing) would happen in late February or early March (like it used to), the Combine would come after that, and the third significant event in the NFL offseason would happen in May, blending seamlessly into OTAs that extend into June, followed by a six-week quiet period that never really is quiet.

If the new approach maximizes opportunities for fans to follow the NFL and further increases interest, it’s hard for a website that derives its audience and revenue from covering the NFL to complain.  But we’ll probably find a reason to.

28 responses to “Offseason overhaul close to happening

  1. I hope they stay away from mothers day just for the fact I don’t want to have to face my wife when over that weekend I want to watch the draft.

  2. It really doesn’t matter to me, I won’t follow it more or less if they change things around, it’s not like the distance between the super bowl and preseason will move, so it’s all the same.

    I would love it if they got rid of the dreadful Thursday and Friday night draft. It was perfect when it was just an all day Saturday and Sunday affair.

  3. I like the idea, there will be a major event every month of the offseason. Im going out on a limb calling June OTAs a major event, I got it.

  4. Schefter tweeted this, “per sources” (which means anything from a GM to something the waterboy mumbled after a few too many adult beverages then told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who reposted it who then retweeted it and became a “source”) I’m gonna throw this into the pile of “reporters making things up to have stuff to talk about in May”.

    May belongs to the NBA, it’s the time that even the most casual fans are watching, and you’ve got the NHL playoffs (also the one time casuals are watching) and baseball is in full swing, while it’s still cool enough to go to a game without dying in the heat. “per sources” isn’t gonna change that.

  5. Starting free agency early, and more time with kiper and mcshay. Who could ask for more?

  6. I would prefer the 1st weekend in May for the draft. The next weekend would possibly offer me a chance for redemption on Mother’s Day since I will likely be sitting on the couch during the draft.

  7. Hate it. They system “as is” keeps fan interest 365 days a year. My friends and I aren’t talking about the NBA or MLB or NHL nearly as much these days, as we do NFL draft talk and what’s next. Pushing it to May is certainly going to create a hole when other sports will step in. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is more of a wive’s tale. GIVE US OUR GAME, Commish!

  8. I hate that rookies have to miss part of OTA’s due to the end of semester conflicts and this would clear that up, so that is one added benefit. But it allows the focus to be on free agency first, then combine, then draft. The more time in between each set of events allows for more build up in between each event, which will make the league happy. The combine is becoming an event unto itself, so it will be nice to give it time to be its own platform.

  9. Why would Nielsen ratings really affect the NFL draft? Only ESPN and the NFL network televise the draft, so it’s not like we’re talking about NBC vs CBS here.

    Unless of course, one (or both) of those networks wants to televise the event at some point. That’d be a different story.

  10. Because there wasn’t enough talk about the draft already and endless mock drafts that are never accurate, now we get another whole month of it. Awesome. Goodell is the worst.

  11. looking for plusses I guess if they do the free agency first your management can concentrate at the combine at watching what their main needs are knowing b4 then that certain needs have already been filled thereby giving them a more effective use of time other than that the only other is the teams have more time to find dirt on the college kids b4 they have to draft them and now the kids will have to be good a bit longer to insure the best draft position

  12. “Why would Nielsen ratings really affect the NFL draft? Only ESPN and the NFL network televise the draft, so it’s not like we’re talking about NBC vs CBS here.

    Unless of course, one (or both) of those networks wants to televise the event at some point. That’d be a different story.”

    Nielsen does do ratings for ESPN and NFLN, but I don’t think sweeps affects cable networks. Maybe the NFL does want NBC, CBS, and/or Fox taking over the draft, or at least the first few rounds.

  13. The signing day concept is one of the stupidest (retarded, for those not easily offended) ideas the league has put forth.

  14. The NFL needs to quit while it is ahead.

    The Pro Bowl is a joke. The lead in to the draft is a joke. The Super Bowl halftime garbage show is a joke. Super Bowl Sunday has become a joke. The price of Sunday Ticket is obscene.

    Alienate the fans a bit more, NFL, go ahead.

  15. Don’t like this idea. Don’t remember who, but someone recommended having the draft first and free agency signings occur AFTER the draft.

    I guess that would be a mess logistically, but it would make more sense football wise for teams to fill their holes with young players first before overpaying for another team’s spare parts.

    As I write this, it occurs to me the HFLPA would probably hate this idea.

  16. 2 things that need to change but never will because of money…
    1. Put the draft back to the weekend so I can just get yelled at 2 days rather than 4 days of watching it.

    2. Move the Super Bowl to Thursday, Friday, or Saturday so we can work on Monday.

    That’s it. That’s all I ask.

  17. Since the Packers rarely jump into the FA pool, I can’t say that waiting longer for the draft would make the off-season better for me. And after all, that’s what is important – or should be.

  18. It might also be appropriate for the league to designate an official Lobby Week, in which NFL lobbyists far and wide concentrate their political influence to suck more tax dollars out of your pockets and into theirs.

  19. We have some misinformation in the comments section (as usual).

    Nielsen ratings and sweeps do affect cable channels. The data gathered during sweeps is used to set ad rates for the coming cycles. More eyeballs watching a channel means the channel can charge more for ad placement.

    Why is the NFL interested in this? If they sell their programming (which they do), they can charge more for it, because they will garner more eyeballs and allow the network to charge more for ads. And since the NFL owns its own network and just happens to air the Draft, they can make themselves a bit more coin on ad rates, too. This is the same reason the first round of the Draft moved to Thursdays: they can charge more for ads during Thursday primetime than they can during Saturday afternoon.

  20. Yay. Another month of waiting on the draft and seeing 1000 more mock drafts. How thrilling.

  21. May 20, 2013 2:37 PM
    I hope they stay away from mothers day just for the fact I don’t want to have to face my wife when over that weekend I want to watch the draft.
    It would still be Thurs, Fri, Sat I’m guessing so it wouldn’t conflict with Mother’s Day. No worries.

    I like FA starting before the Combine to eliminate “illegal” maneuvering, and I agree the union finally did something good for its members by opposing the delay of FA to April. That would be terrible.

  22. More hypocrisy from the NFL. They accept bilions from networks who rightly want that investment returned. The networks and the NFL encourage fans to watch TV from home and promote great pre-game, in-game, and post-game analysis.

    Then the NFL throws a hissy fit and actually ban fans from watching their favorite teams on TV when not enough fans can afford to go the taxpayer funded stadiums to watch the games live. The NFL puts cameras in locker rooms as if that will attract fans.

    Oh, and the NFL is a “non-profit” entity and doesn’t get taxed.

  23. Any changes to the offseason schedule should be to accommodate a true springtime nfl minor league. If the NFL really wants to be a year round sport, a couple days of the draft and a couple days of free agency doesn’t cut it for me,
    Maybe 4-6 teams with a 6 week schedule. Ideally it starts around the end of the nba regular season, and ends prior to the supplemental draft. Each team could submit practice squad players, but what would really be fun is to see the washouts compete to get back to the big league.
    Who wouldn’t watch JaMarcus Russel trying to throw to T.O.??? That would attract a hell of a lot more viewers than nba/nhl/mlb.

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