2018 NFL season

Last updated

2018 NFL season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 6, 2018 (2018-09-06) – December 30, 2018 (2018-12-30)
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 5, 2019
AFC Champions New England Patriots
NFC Champions Los Angeles Rams
Super Bowl LIII
DateFebruary 3, 2019
Site Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Champions New England Patriots
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 27, 2019
Site Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
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Patriots
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Bills
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Dolphins
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Jets
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Bengals
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Ravens
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Steelers
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Browns
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Colts
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Titans
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Jaguars
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Texans
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Broncos
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Chiefs
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Raiders
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Chargers
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Cowboys
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Giants
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Eagles
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Redskins
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Bears
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Lions
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Packers
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Vikings
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Falcons
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Panthers
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Saints
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Buccaneers
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Cardinals
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Rams
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Seahawks
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49ers
NFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, Blue pog.svg North, Red pog.svg South, White pog.svg East

The 2018 NFL season was the 99th season of the National Football League (NFL) and the 53rd of the Super Bowl era. The season began on September 6, 2018, with the NFL Kickoff Game with the defending Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Atlanta Falcons. The season concluded with Super Bowl LIII, the league's championship game, on February 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, in which the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth Super Bowl championship and their third title in five years.

Contents

Player movement

The 2018 NFL League year and trading period began on March 14. On March 9, clubs were allowed to exercise options for 2018 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 2017 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 hit below the actual cap). On March 12, clubs were allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.

Free agency

Over 550 players were eligible for some form of free agency during the free agency period. [1] Notable players to change teams include:

Trades

The following notable trades were made during the 2018 league year:

Retirements

Other retirements

Draft

The 2018 NFL Draft was held from April 26 to 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This was the first draft to take place in an NFL stadium, and the first to be held in Texas. [74] The Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.

Officiating changes

Offseason

The following officials were hired:

Four referees retired during the 2018 off-season, the most to do so since records on the statistics have been kept. [75]

Other officials retiring: [82]

In-season

Down judge Hugo Cruz was fired for performance-related issues culminating with a missed false start during a Week 6 game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns. It was the first time in the Super Bowl era that an official was dismissed in-season. [83]

Rule changes

The following playing rule changes have been approved by the Competition Committee for the 2018 season: [84] [85]

The following bylaws and resolutions were passed: [89]

The following changes to the kickoff rules were approved at the NFL Spring Owners' Meeting on May 23, 2018: [90]

The chain crew was reduced by one member; the "X" marker, usually unseen on television but used to mark the start of an offensive drive, was eliminated. [91]

In response to the recent National Anthem protests in the league the past two seasons, any player or staff member who is on the field during the performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" must stand for the duration of the performance. Such players and staff members are not required to be on the field at that time and may wait in the locker room as an alternative. The NFL will not directly fine offending players or staff members for defying the rule, instead fining the teams, who will in turn have power to fine the players or staff members at their own discretion. The National Football League Players Association filed a grievance with the league over the policy on July 11.

2018 deaths

The following people associated with the NFL (or AFL) died in 2018.

Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Tommy McDonald
A 1998 inductee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, McDonald played 12 seasons in the NFL, the majority of them with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he had the majority of his success. The six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro (first or second team) led the league in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 1961 and was the last non-kicking position player to play without a facemask. He died September 24 at the age of 84. [92]
Jim Taylor
The nine-year veteran of the Green Bay Packers was the first member of the team's 1961–1968 dynasty to be inducted into the Hall as a 1976 inductee. The fullback, who played from 1958 through the first World Championship, appeared in five Pro Bowls, was named first or second team All-Pro six times, and led the league in both rushing touchdowns and yards in 1962, leading the latter category in 1961 as well. He finished his career on the inaugural roster of the New Orleans Saints. He died October 13, aged 83. [93]

Team owners

Others

Preseason

Training camps for the 2018 season were held in late July through August. Teams started training camp no earlier than 15 days before the team's first scheduled preseason game.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, in which the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Chicago Bears 17–16, was played on August 2; [98] and was televised nationally by NBC. The Ravens, who made their first Hall of Fame Game appearance, were represented in the 2018 Hall of Fame class by former linebacker Ray Lewis, while the Bears were represented by former linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Regular season

The 2018 regular season's 256 games were played over a 17-week schedule that began on September 6. Each of the league's 32 teams played a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. The regular season concluded with a full slate of 16 games on December 30, all of which were intra-division matchups, as it had been since 2010.

Scheduling formula

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 pairings for 2018 were as follows:

    Intra-conference
AFC East vs AFC South
AFC West vs AFC North
NFC East vs NFC South
NFC West vs NFC North

   Inter-conference
AFC East vs NFC North
AFC North vs NFC South
AFC South vs NFC East
AFC West vs NFC West

The entire season schedule was released on April 19. Highlights of the 2018 season included:

Scheduling changes

When the entire season schedule was released on April 19, the league announced flexible scheduling for Saturday games in weeks 15 and 16. The final times of these games were announced on October 24: [110]

Regular season standings

Division

Conference

Postseason

The 2018 playoffs began on the weekend of January 5–6, 2019, with the Wild Card Playoff round. The four winners of those playoff games visited the top two seeds in each conference in the Divisional round games the weekend of January 12–13. The winners of those games advanced to the Conference Championship games on January 20. (In the event that both Los Angeles teams had advanced to their respective conference championships with both teams as the home team, one of the two games would have been postponed to the evening of January 21.) [116] The 2019 Pro Bowl was held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on January 27. Super Bowl LIII was held on February 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Bracket

Jan 6 – M&T Bank Stadium Jan 13 – Gillette Stadium
5 LA Chargers 23
5LA Chargers28
4 Baltimore 17Jan 20 – Arrowhead Stadium
2 New England 41
AFC
Jan 5 – NRG Stadium 2New England37*
Jan 12 – Arrowhead Stadium
1Kansas City31
6 Indianapolis 21AFC Championship
6Indianapolis13
3 Houston 7Feb 3 – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
1 Kansas City 31
Wild Card playoffs
Divisional playoffs
Jan 5 – AT&T Stadium A2New England13
Jan 12 – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
N2LA Rams3
5 Seattle 22 Super Bowl LIII
4Dallas22
4 Dallas 24 Jan 20 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome
2 LA Rams 30
NFC
Jan 6Soldier Field 2LA Rams26*
Jan 13 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome
1New Orleans23
6 Philadelphia 16NFC Championship
6Philadelphia14
3 Chicago 15
1 New Orleans 20


* Indicates overtime victory

Records, milestones, and notable statistics

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Divisional round

Super Bowl

Regular season statistical leaders

Individual [145]
Scoring leader Ka'imi Fairbairn, Houston (150)
Most field goals madeKa'imi Fairbairn, Houston (37 FGs)
Touchdowns Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (21 TDs)
Rushing Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (1,434 yards)
Passing yards Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (5,129 yards)
Passing touchdowns Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (50 TDs)
Passer rating Drew Brees, New Orleans (115.7 rating)
Pass receptions Michael Thomas, New Orleans (125 catches)
Pass receiving yards Julio Jones, Atlanta (1,677 yards)
Combined tackles Shaquille Leonard, Indianapolis (163 tackles)
Interceptions Kyle Fuller, Chicago, Xavien Howard, Miami and Damontae Kazee, Atlanta (7)
Punting Andy Lee, Arizona (4,568 yards, 48.6 average yards)
Sacks Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (20.5)

Awards

Individual season awards

The 8th Annual NFL Honors, saluting the best players and plays from 2018 season, was held on February 2, 2019, at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. [146]

AwardWinnerPositionTeam
AP Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs
AP Offensive Player of the Year Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs
AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald DT Los Angeles Rams
AP Coach of the Year Matt Nagy HC Chicago Bears
AP Assistant Coach of the Year Vic Fangio DC Chicago Bears
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley RB New York Giants
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Shaquille Leonard LB Indianapolis Colts
AP Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck QB Indianapolis Colts
Pepsi Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley RB New York Giants
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Chris Long DE Philadelphia Eagles
PFWA NFL Executive of the Year Chris Ballard GM Indianapolis Colts
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Julian Edelman WR New England Patriots

All-Pro team

The following players were named First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press:

Offense
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City)
Running back Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Flex Tyreek Hill (Kansas City)
Wide receiver Michael Thomas (New Orleans)
DeAndre Hopkins (Houston)
Tight end Travis Kelce (Kansas City)
Left tackle David Bakhtiari (Green Bay)
Left guard Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis)
Center Jason Kelce (Philadelphia)
Right guard Zack Martin (Dallas)
Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (Kansas City)
Defense
Edge rusher J. J. Watt (Houston)
Khalil Mack (Chicago)
Interior lineman Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams)
Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia)
Linebacker Luke Kuechly (Carolina)
Bobby Wagner (Seattle)
Shaquille Leonard (Indianapolis)
Cornerback Kyle Fuller (Chicago)
Stephon Gilmore (New England)
Safety Eddie Jackson (Chicago)
Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers)
Special teams
Placekicker Justin Tucker (Baltimore)
Punter Michael Dickson (Seattle)
Kick returner Andre Roberts (New York Jets)
Special teams Adrian Phillips (Los Angeles Chargers)

Players of the week/month

The following were named the top performers during the 2018 season:

Week/
Month
Offensive
Player of the Week/Month
Defensive
Player of the Week/Month
Special Teams
Player of the Week/Month
AFCNFCAFCNFCAFCNFC
1 [147] Patrick Mahomes QB
(Chiefs)
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB
(Buccaneers)
T. J. Watt OLB
(Steelers)
Harrison Smith FS
(Vikings)
Jakeem Grant WR-KR
(Dolphins)
Greg Zuerlein K
(Rams)
2 [148] Patrick Mahomes QB
(Chiefs)
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB
(Buccaneers)
Shaquille Leonard OLB
(Colts)
Danny Trevathan ILB
(Bears)
Dane Cruikshank SS
(Titans)
Robbie Gould K
(49ers)
3 [149] Ben Roethlisberger QB
(Steelers)
Drew Brees QB
(Saints)
Matt Milano OLB
(Bills)
Efe Obada DE
(Panthers)
Justin Tucker K
(Ravens)
Blake Countess SS
(Rams)
4 [150] Marcus Mariota QB
(Titans)
Jared Goff QB
(Rams)
Jadeveon Clowney OLB
(Texans)
Demario Davis ILB
(Saints)
Dwayne Harris WR-KR
(Raiders)
Brett Maher K
(Cowboys)
Sept. [151] Patrick Mahomes QB
(Chiefs)
Jared Goff QB
(Rams)
J. J. Watt DE
(Texans)
Khalil Mack OLB
(Bears)
Justin Tucker K
(Ravens)
Wil Lutz K
(Saints)
5 [152] Isaiah Crowell RB
(Jets)
Drew Brees QB
(Saints)
T. J. Watt OLB
(Steelers)
Chandler Jones DE
(Cardinals)
Denzel Ward CB
(Browns)
Graham Gano K
(Panthers)
6 [153] Albert Wilson WR
(Dolphins)
Todd Gurley RB
(Rams)
Za'Darius Smith OLB
(Ravens)
Frank Clark DE
(Seahawks)
Jason Myers K
(Jets)
Mason Crosby K
(Packers)
7 [154] Emmanuel Sanders WR
(Broncos)
Cam Newton QB
(Panthers)
Mike Mitchell FS
(Colts)
Aaron Donald DT
(Rams)
Dont'a Hightower OLB
(Patriots)
Giorgio Tavecchio K
(Falcons)
8 [155] James Conner RB
(Steelers)
Adrian Peterson RB
(Redskins)
Dee Ford OLB
(Chiefs)
P. J. Williams CB
(Saints)
Adam Vinatieri K
(Colts)
Michael Dickson P
(Seahawks)
Oct. [156] James Conner RB
(Steelers)
Todd Gurley RB
(Rams)
Dee Ford OLB
(Chiefs)
Aaron Donald DT
(Rams)
Stephen Gostkowski K
(Patriots)
Graham Gano K
(Panthers)
9 [157] Kareem Hunt RB
(Chiefs)
Michael Thomas WR
(Saints)
Desmond King CB
(Chargers)
Danielle Hunter DE
(Vikings)
Matt Haack P
(Dolphins)
Bradley Pinion P
(49ers)
10 [158] Ben Roethlisberger QB
(Steelers)
Mitchell Trubisky QB
(Bears)
Wesley Woodyard ILB
(Titans)
Leighton Vander Esch MLB
(Cowboys)
Stephen Hauschka K
(Bills)
Tress Way P
(Redskins)
11 [159] Andrew Luck QB
(Colts)
Saquon Barkley RB
(Giants)
Von Miller OLB
(Broncos)
Samson Ebukam OLB
(Rams)
Daniel Carlson K
(Raiders)
Cody Parkey K
(Bears)
12 [160] Philip Rivers QB
(Chargers)
Amari Cooper WR
(Cowboys)
J. J. Watt DE
(Texans)
Eddie Jackson S
(Bears)
Cyrus Jones CB-PR
(Ravens)
Sebastian Janikowski K
(Seahawks)
Nov. [161] Andrew Luck QB
(Colts)
Drew Brees QB
(Saints)
Chris Jones DE
(Chiefs)
Eddie Jackson S
(Bears)
Justin Tucker K
(Ravens)
Michael Dickson P
(Seahawks)
13 [162] Phillip Lindsay RB
(Broncos)
Todd Gurley RB
(Rams)
Xavien Howard CB
(Dolphins)
Bobby Wagner LB
(Seahawks)
Desmond King CB-KR
(Chargers)
Aldrick Rosas K
(Giants)
14 [163] Derrick Henry RB
(Titans)
Amari Cooper WR
(Cowboys)
Denico Autry DE
(Colts)
Darius Slay CB
(Lions)
Michael Badgley K
(Chargers)
Taysom Hill QB-KR
(Saints)
15 [164] Mike Williams WR
(Chargers)
Dalvin Cook RB
(Vikings)
Joe Haden CB
(Steelers)
Grady Jarrett DT
(Falcons)
Ka'imi Fairbairn K
(Texans)
Robbie Gould K
(49ers)
16 [165] Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
Nick Foles QB
(Eagles)
Patrick Onwuasor LB
(Ravens)
Aaron Donald DT
(Rams)
Dwayne Harris WR-KR
(Raiders)
Brett Maher K
(Cowboys)
17 [166] Josh Allen QB
(Bills)
Blake Jarwin TE
(Cowboys)
Shaquille Leonard OLB
(Colts)
Fletcher Cox DT
(Eagles)
Justin Tucker K
(Ravens)
Matt Prater K
(Lions)
Dec. [167] Derrick Henry RB
(Titans)
Chris Carson RB
(Seahawks)
Shaquille Leonard OLB
(Colts)
Aaron Donald DT
(Rams)
Ka'imi Fairbarn K
(Texans)
Robbie Gould K
(49ers)
WeekFedEx Air Player of the Week
(Quarterbacks) [168]
FedEx Ground Player of the Week
(Running backs) [168]
Pepsi Rookie of the Week [169]
1 Ryan Fitzpatrick
(Buccaneers)
James Conner
(Steelers)
Denzel Ward CB
(Browns)
2 Patrick Mahomes
(Chiefs)
Matt Breida
(49ers)
Shaquille Leonard OLB
(Colts)
3 Drew Brees
(Saints)
Adrian Peterson
(Redskins)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
4 Mitchell Trubisky
(Bears)
Alvin Kamara
(Saints)
Nick Chubb RB
(Browns)
5Drew Brees
(Saints)
Isaiah Crowell
(Jets)
Denzel Ward CB
(Browns)
6 Aaron Rodgers
(Packers)
Todd Gurley
(Rams)
Saquon Barkley RB
(Giants)
7Patrick Mahomes
(Chiefs)
Kerryon Johnson
(Lions)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
8Patrick Mahomes
(Chiefs)
James Conner
(Steelers)
Shaquille Leonard OLB
(Colts)
9Drew Brees
(Saints)
Kareem Hunt
(Chiefs)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
10Mitchell Trubisky
(Bears)
Nick Chubb
(Browns)
Nick Chubb RB
(Browns)
11Drew Brees
(Saints)
Saquon Barkley
(Giants)
Tre'Quan Smith WR
(Saints)
12 Andrew Luck
(Colts)
Christian McCaffrey
(Panthers)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
13 Philip Rivers
(Chargers)
Phillip Lindsay
(Broncos)
Phillip Lindsay RB
(Broncos)
14 Dak Prescott
(Cowboys)
Derrick Henry
(Titans)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
15Philip Rivers
(Chargers)
Derrick Henry
(Titans)
Jaylen Samuels RB
(Steelers)
16 Nick Foles
(Eagles)
C. J. Anderson
(Rams)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
17Dak Prescott
(Cowboys)
Jordan Howard
(Bears)
Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
MonthRookie of the Month
OffensiveDefensive
Sept. [170] Calvin Ridley WR
(Falcons)
Shaquille Leonard OLB
(Colts)
Oct. [171] Quenton Nelson G
(Colts)
Bradley Chubb OLB
(Broncos)
Nov. [172] Baker Mayfield QB
(Browns)
Leighton Vander Esch OLB
(Cowboys)
Dec. [167] Lamar Jackson QB
(Ravens)
Tremaine Edmunds MLB
(Bills)

Head coaching and front office personnel changes

Head coaches

Off-season

Team2017 head coach2017 interim2018 replacementReason for leavingNotes
Arizona Cardinals Bruce Arians Steve Wilks RetiredArians retired from coaching following the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 8–8 (.500) and a cumulative record of 49–30–1 (.619) with two playoff appearances. [173]

Wilks was hired on January 22, after serving as a defensive coach for the Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, and Carolina Panthers since 2006. Wilks's only previous head coaching experience was at Savannah State in 1999. [174]

Chicago Bears John Fox Matt Nagy FiredFox was fired after the final game of the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 5–11 (.313) and a cumulative record of 14–34 (.292) with no playoff appearances. [175]

Nagy spent the past five seasons as an offensive assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs, the last two as offensive coordinator; the Bears hired Nagy on January 8 and this will be his first NFL head coaching job. [176]

Detroit Lions Jim Caldwell Matt Patricia Caldwell was fired after the final game of the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 9–7 (.563) and a cumulative record of 36–28 (.563) with two playoff appearances, but having never won a playoff game as head coach of the Lions. [177] Patricia was hired on February 5, the day after losing Super Bowl LII as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator. He had spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots, starting in 2004 as an offensive assistant before working his way up to defensive coordinator in 2012, winning 3 Super Bowls. This will be his first head coaching job. [178]
Indianapolis Colts Chuck Pagano Frank Reich Pagano was fired after the final game of the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 4–12 (.250), his first losing season as Colts' head coach, and a cumulative record of 53–43 (.552) with three playoff appearances. [179]

On February 6, the Colts announced that they had planned to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the team's next head coach, however, McDaniels informed the Colts that he had changed his mind and was returning to the Patriots. [180] The Colts then hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who was previously a Colts' assistant from 2008 to 2011. This will be Reich's first head coaching job. [181]

New York Giants Ben McAdoo Steve Spagnuolo Pat Shurmur McAdoo became the Giants' head coach in 2016, leading the Giants to a 13–15 (.464) record over parts of two seasons with one playoff appearance. After accruing a 2–10 (.167) record and benching starter Eli Manning during the season, he was fired on December 4, 2017, and replaced in the interim by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. [182]

Shurmur was announced as the Giants' new head coach on January 22. He had previously served as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2012, compiling a record of 9–23 (.281), and an offensive coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings since 2013. [183]

Oakland Raiders Jack Del Rio Jon Gruden Del Rio was fired after the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 6–10 (.375) and a cumulative record of 25–23 (.521) with one playoff appearance. [184] Gruden, who previously coached the Raiders from 1998 to 2001 and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, confirmed on-air on January 6, that he would be returning to the team as coach. He had spent the previous nine seasons as an on-air analyst for Monday Night Football . [185]
Tennessee Titans Mike Mularkey Mike Vrabel Mutual decisionMularkey and the Titans agreed to part ways after they "couldn't come to an agreement over the future," two days after the Titans' playoff loss to the Patriots. Mularkey had a cumulative record of 20–21 (.488) with one playoff appearance in parts of three seasons with the Titans and guided Tennessee to back-to-back 9–7 (.563) records in his two years as the team's full-time head coach. [186] Vrabel spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant with the Houston Texans, the last as defensive coordinator; the Titans hired Vrabel on January 20 and this will be his first NFL head coaching job. [187]

In-season

TeamDeparting coachReason for leavingInterim replacementNotes
Cleveland Browns Hue Jackson Fired Gregg Williams Jackson was fired on October 29, accumulating a 2–5–1 (.313) record during the 2018 season and a 3–36–1 (.088) record for his 2.5-season tenure with the Browns. His dismissal follows a power struggle with offensive coordinator Todd Haley (who was fired at the same time) and the team's 25th consecutive loss away from home; Jackson failed to win a single road game during his tenure and lost every game in 2017. [188] Williams, the team's defensive coordinator, was previously the head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2001 to 2003, with a record of 17–31 (.354). Jackson currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Head Coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy Joe Philbin McCarthy was fired on December 2, 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, was previously the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2012 to 2015, with a record of 24–28 (.462). [189]

Front office personnel

Off-season

TeamPosition2017 office holder2017 interim2018 replacementReason for leavingNotes
Cleveland Browns VP/GM Sashi Brown John Dorsey FiredBrown was fired on December 7, 2017. He had been the team's attorney since 2013 and de facto general manager since 2016. [190] Dorsey was named the new general manager hours later. [191]
Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson Brian Gutekunst ReassignedThompson, who had been the team's general manager since 2005, became the team's senior advisor to football operations. [192] Brian Gutekunst, who had been the team's director of player personnel since 2016, was promoted to become the team's new general manager on January 7. [193]
Houston Texans GM Rick Smith Brian Gaine Medical leaveSmith announced that he would take a leave of absence to care for his wife, who is battling breast cancer. He will remain Executive Vice President of Football Operations. [194] Former Buffalo Bills' vice president of player personnel, Brian Gaine, was named the new general manager on January 13, 2018. Previously, Gaine was Texans' director of pro personnel and then director of player personnel from 2014 to 2016. [195]
New York Giants GM Jerry Reese Kevin Abrams Dave Gettleman FiredHaving been in the organization since 1994, Reese was the Giants' general manager since 2007, leading them to two Super Bowl championships and several years of success. He was fired on December 4 along with head coach Ben McAdoo. He was replaced in the interim by assistant general manager Kevin Abrams. [196] Dave Gettleman, previously general manager of the Carolina Panthers and a 14-year veteran of the Giants' front office (from 1999 to 2012), was hired on December 28, 2017. [197]
Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon Kim Pegula ResignedBrandon resigned his position on May 1, 2018. A newspaper report claimed that Brandon was the subject of an internal investigation regarding his personal conduct and workplace behavior, which neither the Bills nor Brandon mentioned in separate statements regarding his departure; Brandon stated he is seeking other opportunities after spending 20 years with the Bills franchise. He was immediately succeeded by co-owner Kim Pegula. [198]

In-season

TeamPosition2018 office holderInterim replacement2018 ReplacementReason for leavingNotes
Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Shaun Herock Mike Mayock FiredMcKenzie was fired on December 10, 2018, after six-plus seasons as Raiders' GM. [199] Herock, current teams' Director of College Scouting, served as the Raiders' interim General Manager until Oakland hired Mike Mayock on December 31, 2018. [200]

Stadiums

Two teams, the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders, entered the final year of their lease agreements with their current stadium.

Carolina Panthers

On December 17, 2017, Jerry Richardson, the Panthers' founding owner, announced he was putting the team up for sale. [201] [202] Richardson had previously indicated the team would be put up for sale after his death, [203] but Richardson was accused of paying hush money to cover up questionable conduct, including racial slurs and sexually suggestive requests of employees, hastening Richardson's decision. [204] The Panthers' lease on Bank of America Stadium expires after the 2018 season, [205] which would allow any incoming owner to relocate the team out of Charlotte, North Carolina, to another market if they so desired, only being liable for the remaining debt from stadium renovation. At an estimated $35 million, the debt payment would be a small expense compared to the relocation fee the NFL charged for the two teams that relocated in 2016 and 2017. [206] The two most likely candidates to buy the team as of May 2018 were David Tepper, a hedge fund manager with a higher net worth and a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers but fewer ties to Charlotte; and Ben Navarro, a financial services CEO based in Charlotte who had the backing of Richardson's only living son. [207] Tepper was announced as the new owner on May 16, with the announcement coming in time for the league to vote on his bid at the owners meeting on May 19. [208] The sale closed on July 9 with Richardson-era chief operating officer Tina Becker (who ran the franchise after Richardson stepped away from operations) resigning. Tepper immediately stated the franchise would retain the Carolina Panthers name for the time being, but that a new stadium would likely be necessary; he stated that he hoped to build said stadium in Charlotte but would not guarantee the team remains there, claiming he did not know enough about the situation to guarantee the team stays in the Charlotte area. [209]

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders, prior to the 2017 season, committed to relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada, once a new stadium was constructed for them in 2020. In 2016, the Raiders signed a three-year extension with the Oakland Coliseum. [210] In order to secure another season in Oakland, California, Coliseum management indicated in September 2017 that the Raiders would need to offer major concessions to compensate for the financial losses the Coliseum incurs by hosting Raiders games. [211]

Naming rights agreements

Arizona Cardinals

On September 4, University of Phoenix Stadium, the home field of the Arizona Cardinals, was renamed State Farm Stadium. The naming rights agreement is for 18 years; however, the cost of the deal was not disclosed. [212]

Denver Broncos

On June 20, the Denver Broncos' home stadium was renamed Broncos Stadium at Mile High. [213] The sporting goods chain Sports Authority had held naming rights to the stadium's field (as "Sports Authority Field at Mile High") but had gone out of business in 2016. The previous signage referring to Sports Authority was removed in March. [214] [215] Just prior to the 2019 season, the naming rights were sold to Empower Retirement, ultimately renaming the stadium to "Empower Field at Mile High".

Jacksonville Jaguars

On February 16, EverBank Field, the home field of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was renamed TIAA Bank Field, after TIAA's 2017 acquisition of EverBank. The naming rights agreement was for 10 years and $43 million. [216]

Uniforms

Color Rush discontinuation

The Color Rush program was discontinued, and teams were no longer required to wear the special uniforms for Thursday Night Football. Teams had the option to continue using the existing Nike designs for the program as standard third jerseys. [217] [218]

Uniform changes

Throwback uniforms

Patches

Media

Broadcast rights

Television

This was the fifth year under the current broadcast contracts with ESPN/ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This included "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season (regardless of the conference of the visiting team). NBC continued to air Sunday Night Football , the annual Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN continued to air Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl, with the latter being simulcast on ABC. CBS broadcast Super Bowl LIII in English with ESPN Deportes airing the game in Spanish (the First time since 2006 in airing the game).

On January 31, the NFL announced that Fox had acquired the broadcast television rights to the Thursday Night Football package under a five-year deal (aligned with the remainder of the NFL's current broadcast contracts). Fox aired 11 games, [230] in simulcast with NFL Network, [231] [232] with the remaining games in the package airing exclusively on NFL Network to satisfy its carriage contracts (with local broadcasts syndicated broadcast stations in the markets of the teams in each game). [233] CBS and NBC had made bids to renew their previous contracts (CBS had held the rights since 2014, joined by NBC since 2016), but were reluctant to pay a higher rights fee due to the league's ratings downturn. [234]

This was the first season that the league implemented Saturday flexible scheduling for NFL Network's late season Saturday games. Thus, it also marked the first time that games would be rescheduled to a different day (excluding games rescheduled due to severe weather). Under this system, four week 16 games were initially designated as possible matchups to be moved to Saturday. The league would then announce no later than week 8 which two of those four games would be moved and which two would remain on Sunday. [235]

Digital

The NFL agreed to an extension of its digital rights agreement with Verizon Communications under a 5-year, $2.5 billion deal. Unlike the previous deal, it no longer includes exclusivity for streaming in-market and nationally televised NFL games on mobile devices with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or less in size (such as smartphones), in order to account for changes in viewing habits, but still includes enhanced access to highlights and other digital content for Verizon-owned properties. In addition, Verizon announced that it would no longer make these streams exclusive to Verizon Wireless subscribers, and would leverage its portfolio of media brands (such as Yahoo!, which it acquired in 2017) to distribute them to a larger audience. [236] [237] All of the NFL's current television partners have added mobile streaming rights (which were previously reserved to Verizon) to their existing contracts for the 2018 season, with telecasts becoming available via CBS All Access, the Fox Sports App, the ESPN app, and the NBC Sports app. [238] [239] Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon must give the majority of the advertising revenue to the broadcast partners. [240]

On April 26, 2018, the NFL announced that it had reached a two-year extension of its agreement with Amazon for shared digital rights to the Thursday Night Football games simulcast with Fox, with a 15% increase in rights fees. To fulfill a request that the streams be available freely, the games will also be made available on Twitch, an Amazon-owned streaming service that was originally designed for video game streaming. [241]

Radio

Both of the NFL's national radio contracts, Westwood One for English language [242] and Entravision for Spanish language, [243] expired after the 2017 season. Westwood One's parent company Cumulus Media filed for bankruptcy in November 2017 [244] and began terminating national broadcast contracts and sports agreements in January 2018, [245] [246] putting any contract extensions on hold. The company emerged from bankruptcy on June 4, 2018. [247]

With the release of the 2018 schedule, NFL.com listed ESPN Deportes Radio (which had shared NFL rights with Entravision in 2017 and had carried Super Bowl LII [248] ) as the league's national Spanish-language broadcaster. The national English-language broadcaster was still identified as Westwood One, which Westwood One has also confirmed; [249] no press release has been issued in regard to a contract extension with that network, and it is unknown when the current arrangement was signed or when it will end. Additionally, Westwood One removed Sunday afternoon games from their package, instead focusing on the primetime matchups as well as the postseason. SportsUSA, Compass and ESPN Radio, which also has broadcast select Sunday afternoon NFL games, will continue to do so. [250] Meanwhile, Entravision extended the Sunday night rights for 3 years, through 2021, and gained two Super Bowls, the entire AFC Playoff package, the Thursday Night Opener, and a Thanksgiving Day game as part of their new deal. [251]

Personnel changes

All four broadcast partners will employ rules analysts for the 2018 season, citing changes in the league's rules that have become too complicated for its broadcast teams to handle. [75] NBC hired Terry McAulay to be their rules analyst for Sunday Night Football. CBS hired Gene Steratore to fill their rules analyst position, a position that had been vacant since CBS released Mike Carey in 2015. ESPN hired Jeff Triplette for Monday Night Football. Fox retained both Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino. Additionally, Pereira assists with Fox's Thursday Night Football Coverage.

ESPN introduced a fully new broadcast team for Monday Night Football. Joe Tessitore replaced Sean McDonough as lead play-by-play man; McDonough will remain with ESPN as a college football announcer. [252] [253] With previous color analyst Jon Gruden returning to coaching, Monday Night Football hired Jason Witten and Booger McFarland as their color commentators; while McFarland offers his commentary from the sidelines, he fills a role similar to the "non-football" player position that Monday Night Football has traditionally relied upon in its past three-person booths (such as Howard Cosell, Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser). [254] Lisa Salters, the sideline reporter, carries over from the previous broadcast team. [255] Jeff Triplette will replace Gerald Austin as rules analyst. [256]

Fox initially had planned to hire a new broadcast team for its Thursday Night Football, making an overture to Peyton Manning to serve as color commentator. Since Manning declined the offer, the network announced that it will be placing its existing lead broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the package, reducing the number of games the duo will call on Sundays (Buck and Aikman will only call the nationally televised "America's Game of the Week" telecasts on Sundays). [257] A version of Fox NFL Sunday will serve as the lead-in to Thursday Night Football, without Curt Menefee or Jimmy Johnson; the show will instead be hosted by panelist Michael Strahan from New York City, displacing Rich Eisen, the studio host for Thursday night pregame since the package's inception in 2006. [258] Strahan will be joined by fellow Fox colleagues Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long.

In previous seasons, Buck did not call any NFL games during late October, working Major League Baseball playoff games instead. For 2018, Fox coordinated its schedule with MLB so that none of its scheduled broadcasts would land on a Thursday (Fox carries the NLCS and the World Series), so Buck will continue to broadcast both sports, crisscrossing the country in seven cities over a 22-day period. [259]

In addition, NBC introduced a new studio team for Football Night in America . Mike Tirico, who was the on-site host and secondary play-by-play announcer in 2017, became the show's studio host from Stamford, Connecticut, while Liam McHugh moved into Tirico's former role. Dan Patrick, who had been the studio host for FNiA since 2008, declined to sign a long-term contract and left NBC. [260]

On radio, Kurt Warner replaced Boomer Esiason as the color commentator for Westwood One's Monday Night Football broadcasts, after Esiason had filled the role for the previous 18 years. Esiason will continue as a studio host for CBS. [261]

In a surprise announcement made two days before its first game, Amazon announced it would provide its own broadcast team for its eleven games, with Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer serving as the lead broadcast team. The announcement makes Kremer the first-ever female color analyst for an NFL game, the first time a game has been broadcast with no men involved in the broadcast team, and the first time since the 1987 season of ESPN Sunday Night NFL that no former coach or player served on the broadcast team in any capacity. Amazon will offer the standard Fox broadcast team, a British broadcasting team, and a Spanish language feed as alternate audio choices. [262]

Only one game into the pre-season, Indianapolis Colts announcer Bob Lamey, who had been with the team for most of the time since their 1984 relocation from Baltimore, retired suddenly after a complaint of him using a racial slur in the 1980s was revealed. Sideline reporter Matt Taylor was named his de facto replacement for the season. [263]

Greg Papa, after 21 years calling play-by-play for the Oakland Raiders, joined the San Francisco 49ers as their play-by-play announcer; [264] Papa cited an ongoing feud with Raiders owner Mark Davis for his departure. [265] Replacing Papa with the Raiders is Brent Musburger, who came out of retirement from sports announcing to sign a three-year deal with the team that will see him serve as broadcaster through the team's relocation to Las Vegas (Musburger maintains a side business, the Vegas Sports Information Network, in Las Vegas). [266] [267]

Primetime game time shifts

The kick-off times for all three primetime series were moved up to start 5 to 15 minutes earlier to facilitate local newscasts and SportsCenter to start earlier and cause less disruption to late night television schedules in the Eastern and Central time zones. Thursday and Sunday Night games now kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET, while Monday Night games now kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET. [235]

Most watched regular season games

After two years of decline, television viewership for the NFL slightly rebounded in 2018, with ratings up 3% as a whole through the first ten weeks of the season, despite a major decline (16%) in other programming on the same networks. [268] The season finished with ratings up 5% compared to 2017. [269]

RankDateMatchupNetworkViewers (millions)TV rating [270] WindowSignificance
1November 22, 4:30 ET Washington Redskins 23 Dallas Cowboys 31 Fox 30.512.5 Thanksgiving Cowboys–Redskins rivalry
2November 22, 12:30 ET Chicago Bears 23 Detroit Lions 16 CBS 26.512.3 Thanksgiving Bears–Lions rivalry
3December 9, 4:25 ET Philadelphia Eagles 23 Dallas Cowboys 29 Fox 25.114.2Late DH [a] Cowboys–Eagles rivalry
4December 16, 4:25 ET New England Patriots 10 Pittsburgh Steelers 17 CBS 24.614.2Late DH [b] Patriots–Steelers Rivalry
5December 23, 4:25 ET Pittsburgh Steelers 28 New Orleans Saints 3123.913.4Late DH [c]
6November 4, 8:20 ET Green Bay Packers 17 New England Patriots 31 NBC 23.713.7 SNF
7November 25, 4:25 ET Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Denver Broncos 24 CBS 23.713.5Late DH [d] Broncos–Steelers rivalry
8September 9, 4:25 ET Dallas Cowboys 8 Carolina Panthers 16 Fox 23.313.1Late DH [e]
9December 2, 4:25 ET Minnesota Vikings 10 New England Patriots 2423.213.5Late DH [f]
10September 23, 4:25 ET Dallas Cowboys 13 Seattle Seahawks 2422.212.7Late DH [g]

*Note – Late DH matchups listed in table are the matchups that were shown to the largest percentage of the market.

  1. ^ PHI/DAL was shown in 84% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  2. ^ NE/PIT was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  3. ^ PIT/NO was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  4. ^ PIT/DEN was shown in 87% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  5. ^ DAL/CAR was shown in 80% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  6. ^ MIN/NE was shown in 90% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  7. ^ DAL/SEA was shown in 85% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.

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