This offseason was full of drama and excitement for fans of professional football
The 2019 NFL season is officially underway, following a 10-3 Green Bay Packers victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Thursday, meaning the offseason has officially come to a close. It was one of the most enthralling offseasons in recent history, and it is quite apparent that NFL players are looking to take more control of their careers.
It’s not uncommon to hear that the NBA is a player’s league. More than ever before, NBA players are able to plan out their future and determine where they suit up and how much money they earn annually. On the other hand, the NFL has experienced the polar opposite, with long-tenured contracts benefitting teams rather than players thanks to the concept of guaranteed and non-guaranteed money.
With that said, the superstars of the NFL are looking to change the nearly authoritarian dichotomy between executives and players. In the span of six months, a total of 12 players reached out to their organizations and requested a transaction that would benefit their career, whether that be a trade, contract extension or so on. Some players were rewarded, while others were not.
Here are four things that made this offseason so memorable.
In terms of extensions, the quarterback position has benefited heavily this offseason. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz signed a four-year, $128 million extension in June, and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff signed a four-year, $134 million extension in late August. Owners and general managers of NFL franchises have made it clear– quarterbacks are the priority.
Of course, this has led to speculation about unfair treatment to other important skill position players, particularly running backs and wide receivers. Nevertheless, some elite players, including Dallas Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliot and Kansas City Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill were given solid deals before the regular season began, with Elliot earning $90 million over the span of six years and Hill earning $54 million over three years. Realistically these two deals will not mark the end of the financial trouble between top position players and teams, but it is clear that several players are no longer willing to be simply franchise tagged. They are going to demand extensions for years to come.
If there is one piece of evidence that proves the previous point true, it was the record number of holdouts this offseason. In fact, there are players who are still holding out, namely Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams. Although holdouts have been common for years, it wasn’t until Le’Veon Bell didn’t play for a whole season in 2018 when players realized the full impact they could have by sitting out. Despite Williams and Gordon, other star players that sat out throughout training camp and beyond were Elliot, Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
In total there were eight new head coaching hires who will be at the helm this season. Six of them have never been a head coach in the NFL. This is the highest number of new head coaching hires since the 2013 season, and as always, it will be interesting to see how they pan out. New Packers coach Matt LaFleur earned his first victory as a head coach Thursday night; however, Green Bay’s offense only scored 10 points during the contest. LaFleur was brought into this system to improve the offense, as were other hires such as Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals, Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals and Adam Gase of the New York Jets. Several of these new head coaches are very young and follow in the footsteps of Rams head coach Sean McVay.
Maybe instead of “helmets,” I should have put “Antonio Brown”. The Oakland Raiders new receiver has been all over the news recently, with the latest drama surrounding his suspension, and then a few hours later, that same suspension being disbanded. However, Brown’s issue with the league-wide regulations on helmets was consistently covered by media outlets throughout August. Any professional athlete is generally a creature of habit, and Brown showed his true colors after being incredibly parsimonious about the league’s transition. According to reports, he has found a helmet he enjoys playing with–the Xenith Shadow. It is likely he will play with it in his debut against the rival Denver Broncos on Sunday. Time will tell if he will continue playing with the helmet throughout the 17-week season.