| 내셔널 풋볼 리그 (National Football League, NFL)는 미국의 프로 미식축구 협회이다. 미국 최상위 프로축구 리그를 운영한다. NFL은 MLB, NBA, NHL와 더불어 미국의 4대 스포츠 리그 중 하나로 널리 알려져 있다. 1920년 오하이오 주 캔턴에서 아메리칸 프로페셔널 풋볼 어소시에이션(American Professional Football Association)이라는 이름으로 결성되었고, 1922년 현재의 이름으로 바뀌었다. 한편, 1959년, 새로운 상위 프로 미식축구 리그로 아메리칸 풋볼 리그(American Football League)가 결성되어 큰 인기를 모았으나, 1970년 아메리칸 풋볼 리그와 내셔널 풋볼 리그가 내셔널 풋볼 리그로 통합하여 현재에 이르고 있으며, 미국 최고의 인기 스포츠로 명성이 높다. 1970년 통합 당시 26개 팀이 있었고, 현재는 32개 팀으로 구성되어 있으며, 매년 9월 초에 개막해서 팀당 정규시즌 16경기를 뛰고(11주차까지 한 번 휴식), 이듬해 1월부터는 플레이오프에 돌입하여 2월의 첫째 주 일요일에 열리는 슈퍼볼에서 우승 팀의 승부를 가린다.|
같은 콘퍼런스 내 같은 디비전 소속 3팀과 홈 앤 어웨이 (6경기)
같은 콘퍼런스 내 나머지 세 디비전 중 특정 디비전 소속 4팀과 한 경기씩 (4경기)
같은 콘퍼런스에서 위 두 번째 항목에 해당되지 않는 나머지 두 디비전에서 같은 순위의(직전 시즌 기준) 2팀과 한 경기씩 (2경기)
다른 콘퍼런스의 특정 디비전 소속 4팀과 한 경기씩 (4경기)
각 콘퍼런스별 디비전 우승팀 4팀 + 성적이 좋은 와일드카드 2팀씩, 총 12팀이 플레이오프에 진출한다. 시드는 승률 순으로 결정된다.
콘퍼런스별 승률 1위, 2위는 1라운드를 면제받고 디비저널 라운드에 직행하며, 홈 필드 어드밴티지는 상위 시드팀이 갖는다.
슈퍼볼까지 모두 단판 경기이다.
버펄로 빌스 뉴욕 주 오차드 파크 뉴에라 필드 71,857명 1959년 1970년
마이애미 돌핀스 플로리다 주 마이애미가든스 하드록 스타디움 75,540명 1965년 1970년
뉴잉글랜드 패트리어츠 매사추세츠 주 폭스버러 질레트 스타디움 68,756명 1959년 1970년
뉴욕 제츠 뉴저지 주 이스트러더퍼드 메트라이프 스타디움 82,566명 1959년 1970년
볼티모어 레이븐스 메릴랜드 주 볼티모어 M&T 뱅크 스타디움 71,008명 1996년
신시내티 벵골스 오하이오 주 신시내티 폴 브라운 스타디움 65,535명 1967년 1970년
클리블랜드 브라운스 오하이오 주 클리블랜드 퍼스트에너지 스타디움 67,407명 1944년 1950년
피츠버그 스틸러스 펜실베이니아 주 피츠버그 하인즈 필드 65,500명 1933년
휴스턴 텍선스 텍사스 주 휴스턴 NRG 스타디움 71,500명 1999년 2002년
인디애나폴리스 콜츠 인디애나 주 인디애나폴리스 루커스 오일 스타디움 63,000명 1953년
잭슨빌 재규어스 플로리다 주 잭슨빌 에버뱅크 필드 67,246명 1993년 1995년
테네시 타이탄스 테네시 주 내슈빌 닛산 스타디움 69,143명 1959년 1970년
덴버 브롱코스 콜로라도 주 덴버 브롱코스 스타디움 앳 마일하이 76,125명 1959년 1970년
캔자스시티 치프스 미주리 주 캔자스시티 애로헤드 스타디움 76,416명 1959년 1970년
오클랜드 레이더스 캘리포니아 주 오클랜드 오클랜드–알라메다 카운티 콜리시엄 53,200명 1960년 1970년
로스앤젤레스 차저스 캘리포니아 주 로스앤젤레스 스텁헙 센터 30,000명 1959년 1970년
댈러스 카우보이스 텍사스 주 알링턴 AT&T 스타디움 80,000명 1960년
뉴욕 자이언츠 뉴저지 주 이스트러더퍼드 메트라이프 스타디움 82,566명 1925년
필라델피아 이글스 펜실베이니아 주 필라델피아 링컨 파이낸셜 필드 69,144명 1933년
워싱턴 레드스킨스 메릴랜드 주 랜도버 페덱스필드 82,000명 1932년
시카고 베어스 일리노이 주 시카고 솔저 필드 61,500명 1920년
디트로이트 라이언스 미시간 주 디트로이트 포드 필드 65,000명 1929년 1930년
그린베이 패커스 위스콘신 주 그린베이 램보 필드 80,735명 1919년 1921년
미네소타 바이킹스 미네소타 주 미니애폴리스 U.S. 뱅크 스타디움 65,000명 1960년 1961년
애틀랜타 팰컨스 조지아 주 애틀랜타 메르세데스-벤츠 스타디움 71,000명 1965년 1966년
캐롤라이나 팬서스 노스캐롤라이나 주 샬럿 뱅크 오브 아메리카 스타디움 74,455명 1993년 1995년
뉴올리언스 세인츠 루이지애나 주 뉴올리언스 메르세데스-벤츠 슈퍼돔 73,208명 1966년 1967년
탬파베이 버커니어스 플로리다 주 탬파 레이먼드 제임스 스타디움 65,857명 1974년 1976년
애리조나 카디널스 애리조나 주 글렌데일 유니버시티 오브 피닉스 스타디움 63,400명 1898년 1920년
로스앤젤레스 램스 캘리포니아 주 로스앤젤레스 로스앤젤레스 메모리얼 콜리세움 93,607명 1936년 1937년
샌프란시스코 포티나이너스 캘리포니아 주 샌타클래라 리바이스 스타디움 68,500명 1944년 1950년
시애틀 시호크스 워싱턴 주 시애틀 센추리링크 필드 67,000명 1974년 1976년
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference (four division winners and two wild card teams) advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.
The NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) before renaming itself the National Football League for the 1922 season. The NFL agreed to merge with the American Football League (AFL) in 1966, and the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that season; the merger was completed in 1970. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most watched television programs in American history, all occupying the Nielsen's Top 5 tally of the all-time most watched U.S. television broadcasts by 2015. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league.
The team with the most NFL championships is the Green Bay Packers with thirteen (nine NFL titles before the Super Bowl era, and four Super Bowl championships afterwards); the team with the most Super Bowl championships is the Pittsburgh Steelers with six. The current NFL champions are the Philadelphia Eagles, who defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, their first Super Bowl championship after winning three NFL titles before the Super Bowl era.
Founding and history
On August 20, 1920, a meeting was held by representatives of the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Rock Island Independents and Dayton Triangles at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio. This meeting resulted in the formation of the American Professional Football Conference (APFC), a group who, according to the Canton Evening Repository, intended to "raise the standard of professional football in every way possible, to eliminate bidding for players between rival clubs and to secure cooperation in the formation of schedules". Another meeting held on September 17, 1920 resulted in the renaming of the league to the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The league hired Jim Thorpe as its first president, and consisted of 14 teams. Only two of these teams, the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals), remain.
The Akron Pros won the first APFA (NFL) Championship.
Although the league did not maintain official standings for its 1920 inaugural season and teams played schedules that included non-league opponents, the APFA awarded the Akron Pros the championship by virtue of their 8–0–3 (8 wins, 0 losses, and 3 ties) record. The first event occurred on September 26, 1920 when the Rock Island Independents defeated the non-league St. Paul Ideals 48–0 at Douglas Park. On October 3, 1920, the first full week of league play occurred. The following season resulted in the Chicago Staleys controversially winning the title over the Buffalo All-Americans. On June 24, 1922, the APFA changed its name to the National Football League (NFL).
In 1932, the season ended with the Chicago Bears (6–1–6) and the Portsmouth Spartans (6–1–4) tied for first in the league standings. At the time, teams were ranked on a single table and the team with the highest winning percentage (not including ties, which were not counted towards the standings) at the end of the season was declared the champion; the only tiebreaker was that in the event of a tie, if two teams played twice in a season, the result of the second game determined the title (the source of the 1921 controversy). This method had been used since the league's creation in 1920, but no situation had been encountered where two teams were tied for first. The league quickly determined that a playoff game between Chicago and Portsmouth was needed to decide the league's champion. The teams were originally scheduled to play the playoff game, officially a regular season game that would count towards the regular season standings, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, but a combination of heavy snow and extreme cold forced the game to be moved indoors to Chicago Stadium, which did not have a regulation-size football field. Playing with altered rules to accommodate the smaller playing field, the Bears won the game 9–0 and thus won the championship. Fan interest in the de facto championship game led the NFL, beginning in 1933, to split into two divisions with a championship game to be played between the division champions. The 1934 season also marked the first of 12 seasons in which African Americans were absent from the league. The de facto ban was rescinded in 1946, following public pressure and coinciding with the removal of a similar ban in Major League Baseball.
The NFL was always the foremost professional football league in the United States; it nevertheless faced a large number of rival professional leagues through the 1930s and 1940s. Rival leagues included at least three separate American Football Leagues and the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), on top of various regional leagues of varying caliber. Three NFL teams trace their histories to these rival leagues, including the Los Angeles Rams (who came from a 1936 iteration of the American Football League), the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers (the last two of which came from the AAFC). By the 1950s, the NFL had an effective monopoly on professional football in the United States; its only competition in North America was the professional Canadian football circuit, which formally became the Canadian Football League (CFL) in 1958. With Canadian football being a different football code than the American game, the CFL established a niche market in Canada and still survives as an independent league.
A new professional league, the fourth American Football League (AFL), began play in 1960. The upstart AFL began to challenge the established NFL in popularity, gaining lucrative television contracts and engaging in a bidding war with the NFL for free agents and draft picks. The two leagues announced a merger on June 8, 1966, to take full effect in 1970. In the meantime, the leagues would hold a common draft and championship game. The game, the Super Bowl, was held four times before the merger, with the NFL winning Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II, and the AFL winning Super Bowl III and Super Bowl IV. After the league merged, it was reorganized into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC), consisting of most of the pre-merger NFL teams, and the American Football Conference (AFC), consisting of all of the AFL teams as well as three pre-merger NFL teams.
Today, the NFL is considered[clarification needed] the most popular sports league in North America; much of its growth is attributed to former Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who led the league from 1960 to 1989. Overall annual attendance increased from three million at the beginning of his tenure to seventeen million by the end of his tenure, and 400 million viewers watched 1989's Super Bowl XXIII. The NFL established NFL Properties in 1963. The league's licensing wing, NFL Properties earns the league billions of dollars annually; Rozelle's tenure also marked the creation of NFL Charities and a national partnership with United Way. Paul Tagliabue was elected as commissioner to succeed Rozelle; his seventeen-year tenure, which ended in 2006, was marked by large increases in television contracts and the addition of four expansion teams, as well as the introduction of league initiatives to increase the number of minorities in league and team management roles. The league's current Commissioner, Roger Goodell, has focused on reducing the number of illegal hits and making the sport safer, mainly through fining or suspending players who break rules. These actions are among many the NFL is taking to reduce concussions and improve player safety.
Season and playoff development
Main article: List of National Football League seasons
From 1920 to 1934, the NFL did not have a set number of games for teams to play, instead setting a minimum. The league mandated a 12-game regular season for each team beginning in 1935, later shortening this to 11 games in 1937 and 10 games in 1943, mainly due to World War II. After the war ended, the number of games returned to 11 games in 1946 and to 12 in 1947. The NFL went to a 14-game schedule in 1961, which it retained until switching to the current 16-game schedule in 1978. Proposals to increase the regular season to 18 games have been made, but have been rejected in labor negotiations with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
The NFL operated in a two-conference system from 1933 to 1966, where the champions of each conference would meet in the NFL Championship Game. If two teams tied for the conference lead, they would meet in a one-game playoff to determine the conference champion. In 1967, the NFL expanded from 15 teams to 16 teams. Instead of just evening out the conferences by adding the expansion New Orleans Saints to the seven-member Western Conference, the NFL realigned the conferences and split each into two four-team divisions. The four division champions would meet in the NFL playoffs, a two-round playoff. The NFL also operated the Playoff Bowl (officially the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) from 1960 to 1969. Effectively a third-place game, pitting the two conference runners-up against each other, the league considers Playoff Bowls to have been exhibitions rather than playoff games. The league discontinued the Playoff Bowl in 1970 due to its perception as a game for losers.
Following the addition of the former AFL teams into the NFL in 1970, the NFL split into two conferences with three divisions each. The expanded league, now with twenty-six teams, would also feature an expanded eight-team eight playoff, the participants being the three division champions from each conference as well as one 'wild card' team (the team with the best win percentage) from each conference. In 1978, the league added a second wild card team from each conference, bringing the total number of playoff teams to ten, and a further two wild card teams were added in 1990 to bring the total to twelve. When the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, the league realigned, changing the division structure from three divisions in each conference to four divisions in each conference. As each division champion gets a playoff bid, the number of wild card teams from each conference dropped from three to two.
At the corporate level, the National Football League considers itself a trade association made up of and financed by its 32 member teams. Up until 2015, the league was an unincorporated nonprofit 501(c)(6) association. Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code provides an exemption from federal income taxation for "Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, boards of trade, or professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players), not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.". In contrast, each individual team (except the non-profit Green Bay Packers) is subject to tax because they make a profit.
The NFL gave up the tax exempt status in 2015 following public criticism; in a letter to the club owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell labeled it a "distraction", saying "the effects of the tax exempt status of the league office have been mischaracterized repeatedly in recent years... Every dollar of income generated through television rights fees, licensing agreements, sponsorships, ticket sales, and other means is earned by the 32 clubs and is taxable there. This will remain the case even when the league office and Management Council file returns as taxable entities, and the change in filing status will make no material difference to our business." As a result, the league office might owe around US$10 million in income taxes, but it is no longer required to disclose the salaries of its executive officers.
The league has three defined officers: the commissioner, secretary, and treasurer. Each conference has one defined officer, the president, which is essentially an honorary position with few powers and mostly ceremonial duties (such as awarding the conference championship trophy).
The commissioner is elected by affirmative vote of two-thirds or 18 (whichever is greater) of the members of the league, while the president of each conference is elected by an affirmative vote of three-fourths or ten of the conference members. The commissioner appoints the secretary and treasurer and has broad authority in disputes between clubs, players, coaches, and employees. He is the "principal executive officer" of the NFL and also has authority in hiring league employees, negotiating television contracts, disciplining individuals that own part or all of an NFL team, clubs, or employed individuals of an NFL club if they have violated league bylaws or committed "conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football". The commissioner can, in the event of misconduct by a party associated with the league, suspend individuals, hand down a fine of up to US$500,000, cancel contracts with the league, and award or strip teams of draft picks.
In extreme cases, the commissioner can offer recommendations to the NFL's Executive Committee up to and including the "cancellation or forfeiture" of a club's franchise or any other action he deems necessary. The commissioner can also issue sanctions up to and including a lifetime ban from the league if an individual connected to the NFL has bet on games or failed to notify the league of conspiracies or plans to bet on or fix games. The current Commissioner of the National Football League is Roger Goodell, who was elected in 2006 after Paul Tagliabue, the previous commissioner, retired.
According to economist Richard Wolff, the NFL redistributes its wealth to all NFL teams equally in contravention of the typical corporate structure. By redistributing profits to all teams the NFL is ensuring that one team will not dominate the league through excessive earnings.
The NFL consists of 32 clubs divided into two conferences of 16 teams in each. Each conference is divided into four divisions of four clubs in each. During the regular season, each team is allowed a maximum of 53 players on its roster; only 46 of these may be active (eligible to play) on game days. Each team can also have a 10-player practice squad separate from its main roster, but the practice squad may only be composed of players who were not active for at least nine games in any of their seasons in the league. A player can only be on a practice squad for a maximum of three seasons.
Each NFL club is granted a franchise, the league's authorization for the team to operate in its home city. This franchise covers 'Home Territory' (the 75 miles surrounding the city limits, or, if the team is within 100 miles of another league city, half the distance between the two cities) and 'Home Marketing Area' (Home Territory plus the rest of the state the club operates in, as well as the area the team operates its training camp in for the duration of the camp). Each NFL member has the exclusive right to host professional football games inside its Home Territory and the exclusive right to advertise, promote, and host events in its Home Marketing Area. There are several exceptions to this rule, mostly relating to teams with close proximity to each other: the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders only have exclusive rights in their cities and share rights outside of it; and teams that operate in the same city (e.g. New York City and Los Angeles) or the same state (e.g. California, Florida, and Texas) share the rights to the city's Home Territory and the state's Home Marketing Area, respectively.
Every NFL team is based in the contiguous United States. Although no team is based in a foreign country, the Jacksonville Jaguars began playing one home game a year at Wembley Stadium in London, England in 2013 as part of the NFL International Series. The Jaguars' agreement with Wembley was originally set to expire in 2016, but has since been extended through 2020. The Buffalo Bills played one home game every season at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as part of the Bills Toronto Series from 2008 to 2013. Mexico also hosted an NFL regular-season game, a 2005 game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals known as "Fútbol Americano", and 39 international preseason games were played from 1986 to 2005 as part of the American Bowl series. The Raiders and Houston Texans played a game in Mexico City at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2016.
According to Forbes, the Dallas Cowboys, at approximately US$4 billion, are the most valuable NFL franchise and the most valuable sports team in the world. Also, all 32 NFL teams rank among the Top 50 most valuable sports teams in the world; and 14 of the NFL's owners are listed on the Forbes 400, the most of any sports league or organization.
The 32 teams are organized into eight geographic divisions of four teams each. These divisions are further organized into two conferences, the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference. The two-conference structure has its origins in a time when major American professional football was organized into two independent leagues, the National Football League and its younger rival, the American Football League. The leagues merged in the late 1960s, adopting the older league's name and reorganizing slightly to assure the same number of teams in both conferences.
The NFL season format consists of a four-week preseason, a seventeen-week regular season (each team plays 16 games), and a twelve-team single-elimination playoff culminating in the Super Bowl, the league's championship game.
The NFL preseason begins with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, played at Fawcett Stadium in Canton. Each NFL team is required to schedule four preseason games, two of which must be at its home stadium, but the teams involved in the Hall of Fame game, as well as any teams playing in an American Bowl game, play five preseason games. Preseason games are exhibition matches and do not count towards regular-season totals. Because the preseason does not count towards standings, teams generally do not focus on winning games; instead, they are used by coaches to evaluate their teams and by players to show their performance, both to their current team and to other teams if they get cut. The quality of preseason games has been criticized by some fans, who dislike having to pay full price for exhibition games, as well as by some players and coaches, who dislike the risk of injury the games have, while others have felt the preseason is a necessary part of the NFL season.[29
Currently, the thirteen opponents each team faces over the 16-game regular season schedule are set using a pre-determined formula: The league runs a seventeen-week, 256-game regular season. Since 2001, the season has begun the week after Labor Day (first Monday in September) and concluded the week after Christmas. The opening game of the season is normally a home game on a Thursday for the league's defending champion.
Most NFL games are played on Sundays, with a Monday night game typically held at least once a week and Thursday night games occurring on most weeks as well. NFL games are not normally played on Fridays or Saturdays until late in the regular season, as federal law prohibits professional football leagues from competing with college or high school football. Because high school and college teams typically play games on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the NFL cannot hold games on those days until the third Friday in December. NFL games are rarely scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday, and those days have only been used twice since 1948: in 2010, when a Sunday game was rescheduled to Tuesday due to a blizzard, and in 2012, when the Kickoff game was moved from Thursday to Wednesday to avoid conflict with the Democratic National Convention.
NFL regular season matchups are determined according to a scheduling formula. Within a division, all four teams play fourteen out of their sixteen games against common opponents – two games (home and away) are played against the other three teams in the division, while one game is held against all the members of a division from the NFC and a division from the AFC as determined by a rotating cycle (three years for the conference the team is in, and four years in the conference they are not in). The other two games are intraconference games, determined by the standings of the previous year – for example, if a team finishes first in its division, it will play two other first-place teams in its conference, while a team that finishes last would play two other last-place teams in the conference. In total, each team plays sixteen games and has one bye week, where they do not play any games.
Although the teams any given club will play are known by the end of the previous year's regular season, the exact dates, times, and home/away status for NFL games are not determined until much later because the league has to account for, among other things, the Major League Baseball postseason and local events that could pose a scheduling conflict with NFL games. During the 2010 season, over 500,000 potential schedules were created by computers, 5,000 of which were considered "playable schedules" and were reviewed by the NFL's scheduling team. After arriving at what they felt was the best schedule out of the group, nearly 50 more potential schedules were developed to try and ensure that the chosen schedule would be the best possible one.[
Following the conclusion of the regular season, a twelve-team single elimination tournament, the NFL Playoffs, is held. Six teams are selected from each conference: the winners of each of the four divisions as well as two wild card teams (the two remaining teams with the best overall record). These teams are seeded according to overall record, with the division champions always ranking higher than either of the wild card teams. The top two teams (seeded one and two) from each conference are awarded a bye week, while the remaining four teams (seeded 3–6) from each conference compete in the first round of the playoffs, the Wild Card round, with the third seed competing against the sixth seed and the fourth seed competing against the fifth seed. The winners of the Wild Card round advance to the Divisional Round, which matches the lower seeded team against the first seed and the higher seeded team against the second seed. The winners of those games then compete in the Conference Championships, with the higher remaining seed hosting the lower remaining seed. The AFC and NFC champions then compete in the Super Bowl to determine the league champion.
The only other postseason event hosted by the NFL is the Pro Bowl, the league's all-star game. Since 2009, the Pro Bowl has been held the week before the Super Bowl; in previous years, the game was held the week following the Super Bowl, but in an effort to boost ratings, the game was moved to the week before. Because of this, players from the teams participating in the Super Bowl are exempt from participating in the game. The Pro Bowl is not considered as competitive as a regular-season game because the biggest concern of teams is to avoid injuries to the players.
Each April (excluding 2014 when it took place in May), the NFL holds a draft of college players. The draft consists of seven rounds, with each of the 32 clubs getting one pick in each round. The draft order for non-playoff teams is determined by regular-season record; among playoff teams, teams are first ranked by the furthest round of the playoffs they reached, and then are ranked by regular-season record. For example, any team that reached the divisional round will be given a higher pick than any team that reached the conference championships, but will be given a lower pick than any team that did not make the divisional round. The Super Bowl champion always drafts last, and the losing team from the Super Bowl always drafts next-to-last. All potential draftees must be at least three years removed from high school in order to be eligible for the draft. Underclassmen that have met that criterion to be eligible for the draft must write an application to the NFL by January 15 renouncing their remaining college eligibility. Clubs can trade away picks for future draft picks, but cannot trade the rights to players they have selected in previous drafts.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the first overall draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft
Aside from the 32 picks each club gets, compensatory draft picks are given to teams that have lost more compensatory free agents than they have gained. These are spread out from rounds 3 to 7, and a total of 32 are given. Clubs are required to make their selection within a certain period of time, the exact time depending on which round the pick is made in. If they fail to do so on time, the clubs behind them can begin to select their players in order, but they do not lose the pick outright. This happened in the 2003 draft, when the Minnesota Vikings failed to make their selection on time. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers were able to make their picks before the Vikings were able to use theirs. Selected players are only allowed to negotiate contracts with the team that picked them, but if they choose not to sign they become eligible for the next year's draft. Under the current collective bargaining contract, all contracts to drafted players must be four-year deals with a club option for a fifth. Contracts themselves are limited to a certain amount of money, depending on the exact draft pick the player was selected with. Players who were draft eligible but not picked in the draft are free to sign with any club.
The NFL operates several other drafts in addition to the NFL draft. The league holds a supplemental draft annually. Clubs submit emails to the league stating the player they wish to select and the round they will do so, and the team with the highest bid wins the rights to that player. The exact order is determined by a lottery held before the draft, and a successful bid for a player will result in the team forfeiting the rights to its pick in the equivalent round of the next NFL draft. Players are only eligible for the supplemental draft after being granted a petition for special eligibility. The league holds expansion drafts, the most recent happening in 2002 when the Houston Texans began play as an expansion team. Other drafts held by the league include an allocation draft in 1950 to allocate players from several teams that played in the dissolved All-America Football Conference and a supplemental draft in 1984 to give NFL teams the rights to players who had been eligible for the main draft but had not been drafted because they had signed contracts with the United States Football League or Canadian Football League.
Like the other major sports leagues in the United States, the NFL maintains protocol for a disaster draft. In the event of a 'near disaster' (less than 15 players killed or disabled) that caused the club to lose a quarterback, they could draft one from a team with at least three quarterbacks. In the event of a 'disaster' (15 or more players killed or disabled) that results in a club's season being cancelled, a restocking draft would be held. Neither of these protocols has ever had to be implemented.[
Free agents in the National Football League are divided into restricted free agents, who have three accrued seasons and whose current contract has expired, and unrestricted free agents, who have four or more accrued seasons and whose contract has expired. An accrued season is defined as "six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists". Restricted free agents are allowed to negotiate with other clubs besides their former club, but the former club has the right to match any offer. If they choose not to, they are compensated with draft picks. Unrestricted free agents are free to sign with any club, and no compensation is owed if they sign with a different club.
Clubs are given one franchise tag to offer to any unrestricted free agent. The franchise tag is a one-year deal that pays the player 120% of his previous contract or no less than the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, whichever is greater. There are two types of franchise tags: exclusive tags, which do not allow the player to negotiate with other clubs, and non-exclusive tags, which allow the player to negotiate with other clubs but gives his former club the right to match any offer and two first-round draft picks if they decline to match it.
Clubs also have the option to use a transition tag, which is similar to the non-exclusive franchise tag but offers no compensation if the former club refuses to match the offer. Due to that stipulation, the transition tag is rarely used, even with the removal of the "poison pill" strategy (offering a contract with stipulations that the former club would be unable to match) that essentially ended the usage of the tag league-wide. Each club is subject to a salary cap, which is set at US$143.28 million for the 2015 season, US$10 million more than in 2014 and US$20 million more than in 2013. The salary cap for the 2016 NFL season was $155.27 million. The salary cap for the 2017 NFL season was about $167 million.
Members of clubs' practice squads, despite being paid by and working for their respective clubs, are also simultaneously a kind of free agent and are able to sign to any other club's active roster (provided their new club is not their previous club's next opponent within a set number of days) without compensation to their previous club; practice squad players cannot be signed to other clubs' practice squads, however, unless released by their original club first.[13
Buffalo Bills Orchard Park, New York New Era Field 71,608 42.774°N 78.787°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Sean McDermott
Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens, Florida Hard Rock Stadium 65,326 25.958°N 80.239°W 1966 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Adam Gase
New England Patriots Foxborough, Massachusetts Gillette Stadium 66,829 42.091°N 71.264°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Bill Belichick
New York Jets East Rutherford, New Jersey MetLife Stadium[D] 82,500 40.814°N 74.074°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Todd Bowles
Baltimore Ravens Baltimore, Maryland M&T Bank Stadium 71,008 39.278°N 76.623°W 1996[E] John Harbaugh
Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati, Ohio Paul Brown Stadium 65,515 39.095°N 84.516°W 1968 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Marvin Lewis
Cleveland Browns Cleveland, Ohio FirstEnergy Stadium 67,431 41.506°N 81.699°W 1946 (AAFC), 1950 (NFL)[E] Hue Jackson
Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Heinz Field 68,400 40.447°N 80.016°W 1933 Mike Tomlin
Houston Texans Houston, Texas NRG Stadium 72,220 29.685°N 95.411°W 2002 Bill O'Brien
Indianapolis Colts* Indianapolis, Indiana Lucas Oil Stadium 67,000 39.760°N 86.164°W 1953 Frank Reich
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville, Florida TIAA Bank Field[F] 67,246 30.324°N 81.638°W 1995 Doug Marrone
Tennessee Titans* Nashville, Tennessee Nissan Stadium 69,143 36.166°N 86.771°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Mike Vrabel
Denver Broncos Denver, Colorado Sports Authority Field at Mile High 76,125 39.744°N 105.020°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Vance Joseph
Kansas City Chiefs* Kansas City, Missouri Arrowhead Stadium 76,416 39.049°N 94.484°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Andy Reid
Los Angeles Chargers* Carson, California StubHub Center[G] 27,000 33.864°N 118.261°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Anthony Lynn
Oakland Raiders* Oakland, California Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 56,063 37.752°N 122.201°W 1960 (AFL), 1970 (NFL) Jon Gruden
National Football Conference
Dallas Cowboys Arlington, Texas AT&T Stadium 80,000 32.748°N 97.093°W 1960 Jason Garrett
New York Giants East Rutherford, New Jersey MetLife Stadium[D] 82,500 40.814°N 74.074°W 1925 Pat Shurmur
Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Lincoln Financial Field 69,596 39.901°N 75.168°W 1933 Doug Pederson
Washington Redskins* Landover, Maryland FedExField 82,000 38.908°N 76.864°W 1932 Jay Gruden
Chicago Bears*† Chicago, Illinois Soldier Field 61,500 41.863°N 87.617°W 1920 Matt Nagy
Detroit Lions* Detroit, Michigan Ford Field 65,000 42.340°N 83.046°W 1930 Matt Patricia
Green Bay Packers Green Bay, Wisconsin Lambeau Field 81,435 44.501°N 88.062°W 1921 Mike McCarthy
Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S. Bank Stadium 66,655 44.974°N 93.258°W 1961 Mike Zimmer
Atlanta Falcons Atlanta, Georgia Mercedes-Benz Stadium 71,000 33.755°N 84.401°W 1966 Dan Quinn
Carolina Panthers Charlotte, North Carolina Bank of America Stadium 75,419 35.226°N 80.853°W 1995 Ron Rivera
New Orleans Saints New Orleans, Louisiana Mercedes-Benz Superdome 73,000 29.951°N 90.081°W 1967 Sean Payton
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa, Florida Raymond James Stadium 65,890 27.976°N 82.503°W 1976 Dirk Koetter
Arizona Cardinals*† Glendale, Arizona University of Phoenix Stadium 63,400 33.528°N 112.263°W 1920 Steve Wilks
Los Angeles Rams* Los Angeles, California Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum[G] 93,607 34.014°N 118.288°W 1936 (Second AFL), 1937 (NFL) Sean McVay
San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara, California Levi's Stadium 68,500 37.403°N 121.970°W 1946 (AAFC), 1950 (NFL) Kyle Shanahan
Seattle Seahawks Seattle, Washington CenturyLink Field 68,000 47.595°N 122.332°W 1976 Pete Carroll