Should the NFL release the schedule after the draft?

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The schedule is coming.

Yes, this is the week (probably on Tuesday night) during which the league will rip the sheet from the slate of 256 regular-season games to be played in 2019. We know who will play whom and where those games will be played, but the question of when those games will be played takes on great significance, especially when it comes to figuring out which games will land in the highest-profile TV slots of each and every week of the campaign.

Currently, the league waits until mid-to-late April to finalize the schedule, allowing the dust to fully settle on free agency before deciding the all-important “when.” But one significant offseason player-acquisition event remains undecided when the schedule is determined: The draft.

For that reason, at least one owner (and possibly more) would like to see the schedule release delayed until after it’s known where the top rookies will be playing.

It actually makes sense. This year, quarterback Kyler Murray stands out as the biggest potential drawing card from a September-December TV standpoint. With Arizona’s plans for the first overall pick still unknown (and the NFL likes it that way, from a late-April TV standpoint), a decision to drop 49ers-Cardinals into the second half of the traditional Week One Monday night doubleheader risks that the game won’t be as compelling as it could be, because it may not entail the official debut of the most fascinating prospect of 2019.

If the league were to wait until after the draft, it would know who has Murray, along with whether any other team’s picks, trades, etc. make a given game more or less compelling. What if Jack Del Rio’s hunch as to Russell Wilson is right, and he gets traded? What if some other trade that would shake up the landscape of the league happens?

On the other side of the coin, what’s the benefit of knowing the schedule before the draft? Are team really picking incoming players based on whether they’ll be facing Patrick Mahomes in Week One or in Week 14?

If the ultimate goal is to have the most compelling regular-season schedule possible, the league should wait until after the draft. And then the league would have one last made-for-TV offseason tentpole that would frame the final countdown for the coming on the new season.

43 responses to “Should the NFL release the schedule after the draft?

  1. I respectfully disagree. Focusing some of the prime viewing window games around the top few picks rewards bad teams and takes away from better teams. Secondly, as a fan I’d be more inclined to watch a Steelers vs Ravens or Chiefs vs Chargers matchup (even though I’m not a fan of any of them) than say a Cardinals vs Falcons matchup. A good game will keep me watching, and if I want rookie highlights there are plenty of avenues to get them.

  2. From what I’ve read over the years, putting the actual schedule together is a very complex undertaking and each team will have requests depending on what other events (concerts, a pope visit, etc.) may be happening at their stadiums. It would make no sense to add another headache to the schedule makers. Chances are, the schedule is already done and they’re just waiting for the time of most pr impact.

  3. I love that Jack del Rio made it in to this article. He’s doing well for himself…

  4. A computer makes the schedule anyways. All they do is input their dozens of problem dates and it is automated to do the rest. Man is always left to simply edit it afterwards during the review process.

  5. I wish they would focus more on improving the experience for fans that attend the games. This would just create one further roadblock for fans trying to plan attending a game.

    Less ads, less reviews, less flexing,less Thursday games…

  6. Release the schedule asap. This way fans can decide whether or not to renew their season tickets. Too many late start games after November are a big problem for fans in the north.

  7. Believe it or not, some people like to plan vacation or travel plans if that includes going to a team’s road game. You can maybe get good airline discounts, etc. Delaying it is a pain to those who like to plan their fall schedules. Enough messing around with everything!!

  8. So, you honestly think Kyler Murray is somehow a bigger draw than all of the existing QBs, that we already know are good? Or, for that matter, that any rookies are guaranteed to be bigger draws than other established good players? There is zero guarantee that Murray or any other rookie is even starting or playing at any point in the year. I would hope the schedule makers are looking for good teams not individual players when determining who gets prime time games.

  9. It should be released as soon as possible.

    Not only do I need to make travel arrangements, I need to budget for this stuff.

    I don’t make Goodell money!

  10. Probably won’t happen because ownership wants to sell individual game tickets as soon as possible. Waiting another three to four weeks for the schedule delays that. I agree though that it should be released after the draft for the reasons you stated. Makes complete sense. Right on Mike.

  11. Rookies have enough going on without the added pressure the league could place on them, by designing title bouts for them in year 1. This is not a good idea for these kids, they have enough pressure already. Being that its so hard to stick in the league this would seem to be exploiting them in year 1. Something only greedy 1%’ers or a lawyer would be happy with.

  12. We already know the location the teams are playing, the teams they are playing. The only piece we are missing is the time. Teams that get the number one pick are not worth putting on prime-time.

  13. The earlier the better so fans wanting to travel to follow their team, can arrange vacation days and get airline tickets. But who am I to put the fans first?

  14. If the ultimate goal is to have the most compelling regular-season schedule possible, the league should wait until after the draft.


    How many times have we seen games later in the season, only to find out a team is not as good as we thought.

  15. Yeah sorry I got the respect but totally disagree, but then I also disagree with flex games because…you know….I care more about the fans who buy tickets than I do league or network revenue. I get that is a big part of the model, but I mean if I guy a ticket for a 1 pm game in September I sure expect that game to be at 1 pm in November.

    Fans first. Paying ones.

  16. Just release it the week after the SB. They already know the draft order. That way teams can sign free agents

  17. Just release the schedule the week after the SB. They already know the draft order and strength of schedule anyway. They can begin signing free agents and draft planning right away. We already know 8 games in their own division and four games from their designated rotation in a particular division. So only four games are a possible unknown. It’s not rocket science. Just don’t place perriennel losers in prime time unless you want your ratings to drop.

  18. So, you want to schedule primetime games for a bunch of rookies, and not the established, multi all-pro veterans?

  19. magnusthe1st says:
    April 13, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    God the season can’t come soon enough.

    You must be young otherwise you’d know you don’t wish your life away!
    Older people sit around wondering where time went and wish they could turn back the clock and younger people want to fast-forward through their lifes. They’ll see sooner than they want to that they’re now on this side, wanting to turn back that clock. And the older you get the faster it goes by.

    If you got everything you wanted instantly what fun would that be? Take it from on old fart the anticipation of waiting for something you want only adds to the enjoyment when you actually get it! But you’ll learn that soon enough.

  20. I follow the Saints, but I live in West Virginia, and until a few months ago, I was in California for 20 years. So when I see my team, it requires travel plans and coordination with others who also live nowhere near New Orleans. So please just release the schedule when it’s ready.

  21. Spoken from someone who has never paid to attend a game, i have to schedule vacation time, hotels, etc. It doesnt matter what overhyped rookie is playing. I now also have to take my phone in for mobile tickets…after i have sat thru drenching rain for 4 hours (see pit v cle ’18 week 1) who is paying for the ruined phone…price the common fan out of existence, pigs get fed…hogs get slaughtered

  22. Terrible idea. It’s already Mid-April and if you need to request vacation time, your chances of getting it diminishes with every week they delay releasing the schedule.

  23. WOW, the angst and drama for some is never ending. I couldn’t make my vacation plans very far in advance because seniority ruled. Even then it could get cancelled because of project priority and manpower requirements.

  24. I.Don’t.Care. I have baseball and hockey and basketball playoffs to occupy me. I care little about the schedule until they begin playing games that count…in September. Release…don’t release….whatever.

  25. With respect I gotta disagree Mr Florio. Many of my fellow season ticket holders & single game buyers like to be at a road game now & then. The sooner we know the schedule the better. Road trips will be even more common when Vegas gets the Raiders. So how about thinking about the fans THAT ACTUALLY BUY THE PRODUCT. Bad enough to have a game “flexed”.

  26. albloch says:
    April 13, 2019 at 11:32 am
    I wish they would focus more on improving the experience for fans that attend the games. This would just create one further roadblock for fans trying to plan attending a game.

    Less ads, less reviews, less flexing,less Thursday games…

    TV pays the bills. the game experience for the fans is just icing on the cake

  27. I find it baffling that you actually believe people are going to make viewing decisions based on where top rookies get drafted rather than good team based matchups.

    Especially when you get after thought teams drafting high. No person Arizona can draft would make me want to watch that lousy team, more so if we were robbed of a good team vs good team to put them on tv instead

  28. if I were an NFL GM I would want to know the scedule before the draft as it could affect my draft or free agency strategy for drafted players, by knowing that I have a few games in cold weather cites late in the year for example.

  29. They’ve already released the preseason, as well as listing who teams will play in regular season. Fans know who are in their Division that they will play twice, so it’s not that big of a deal figuring out the order. It can only benefit teams and franchises looking to sell tickets…the timing of the release
    is based on how it would best benefit ticket sales. No big intrigue for season ticket holders, it is what it is, just like the draft…
    Actually, this is a dumb headline as the schedule always comes after the draft eventually!

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