|Duration||September 7, 2017- December 31, 2017|
|Start date||January 6, 2018|
|Super Bowl LII|
|Date||February 4, 2018|
|Site||U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Date||January 28, 2018|
|Site||Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida|
The 2017 NFL season, the 98th and current season in the history of the National Football League (NFL), began on September 7, 2017, with the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the defending Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots 42-27 in the NFL Kickoff Game. The season will conclude with Super Bowl LII, the league's championship game, on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The 2017 NFL League year began on March 9 at 4:00 p.m. EST. On March 7, clubs were allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who became unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their contracts two days later. On March 9, clubs exercised options for 2017 on players who have option clauses in their contracts, submitted qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts and to whom desire to retain a Right of Refusal/Compensation, submitted a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agent credit, and 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 collected salary cap hit below the actual cap). The 2017 trading period also began the same day.
A total of 496 players were eligible for some form of free agency at the beginning of the free agency period. Among the high-profile players who changed teams via free agency were cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (from Texans to Jaguars), Logan Ryan (from Patriots to Titans), and Stephon Gilmore (from Bills to Patriots); safeties Barry Church (from Cowboys to Jaguars), Johnathan Cyprien (from Jaguars to Titans), Micah Hyde (from Packers to Bills), and Tony Jefferson (from Cardinals to Ravens); linebackers Jabaal Sheard (from Patriots to Colts), Malcolm Smith (from Raiders to 49ers), and Manti Te'o (from Chargers to Saints); defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins (from Giants to Colts) and Calais Campbell (from Cardinals to Jaguars); offensive tackles Andrew Whitworth (from Bengals to Rams), Kelvin Beachum (from Jaguars to Jets), Matt Kalil (from Vikings to Panthers), Mike Remmers (from Panthers to Vikings), Ricky Wagner (from Ravens to Lions), Riley Reiff (from Lions to Vikings), and Russell Okung (from Broncos to Chargers); offensive guards Kevin Zeitler (from Bengals to Browns), Larry Warford (from Lions to Saints), Ronald Leary (from Cowboys to Broncos), and T.J. Lang (from Packers to Lions); tight ends Martellus Bennett (from Patriots to Packers) and Jared Cook (from Packers to Raiders); wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (from Bears to Eagles), Brandon Marshall (from Jets to Giants), DeSean Jackson (from Redskins to Buccaneers), Kenny Britt (from Rams to Browns), Pierre Garçon (from Redskins to 49ers), Robert Woods (from Bills to Rams), Terrelle Pryor (from Browns to Redskins), and Torrey Smith (from 49ers to Eagles); running backs Latavius Murray (from Raiders to Vikings), Adrian Peterson (from Vikings to Saints), Eddie Lacy (from Packers to Seahawks), and Jamaal Charles (from Chiefs to Broncos); fullbacks Mike Tolbert (from Panthers to Bills) and Patrick DiMarco (from Falcons to Bills); quarterback Mike Glennon (from Buccaneers to Bears).
Training camps for the 2017 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.
Prior to the start of the regular season, each team played four preseason exhibition games, beginning on August 10. The preseason began on the evening of August 3 with the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, that featured the Dallas Cowboys (represented in the 2017 Hall of Fame Class by owner Jerry Jones) who hosted Arizona Cardinals (represented by former quarterback Kurt Warner). It was televised nationally on NBC. The 64-game preseason schedule ended on August 31; a 65th game, that of the 2017 Texas Governor's Cup, was canceled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The 2017 regular season's 256 games will be played over a 17-week schedule which began on September 7. Each of the league's 32 teams plays a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. The slate also features games on Monday nights. There are games played on Thursday, including the National Football League Kickoff game in prime time on September 7 and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season will conclude with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, December 31, all of which will be intra-division matchups, as it has been since 2010.
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 teams in the team's own conference in the divisions the team was not set to play which finished the previous season in the same rank in their division (e.g. the team which finished first in its division the previous season would play each other team in its conference that also finished first in its respective division). The preset division pairings for 2017 will be as follows.
Highlights of the 2017 schedule include:
The entire schedule was released on April 20, 2017.
The following games were moved or canceled because of severe weather, by way of flexible scheduling, or for other reasons:
|5||Kansas City Chiefs||West||2||0||0||1.000||0-0||1-0||.000||.000||W2|
|In the hunt|
|11||New England Patriots||East||1||1||0||.500||0-0||0-1||.000||.000||W1|
|12||Los Angeles Chargers||West||0||2||0||.000||0-1||0-2||.000||.000||L2|
|15||New York Jets||East||0||2||0||.000||0-1||0-2||.000||.000||L2|
|3||Los Angeles Rams||West||2||1||0||.667||1-0||1-1||.000||.000||W1|
|6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||South||1||0||0||1.000||0-0||1-0||.000||.000||W1|
|In the hunt|
|9||Green Bay Packers||North||1||1||0||.500||0-0||1-1||.000||.000||L1|
|14||New York Giants||East||0||2||0||.000||0-1||0-2||.000||.000||L2|
|15||New Orleans Saints||South||0||2||0||.000||0-0||0-1||.000||.000||L2|
|16||San Francisco 49ers||West||0||3||0||.000||0-2||0-3||.000||.000||L3|
Dan Rooney was chairman and plurality owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and one of the sons of founding owner Art Rooney, Sr. Having been officially involved with the franchise since 1960, Rooney was a part of all six of the Steelers' Super Bowl victories. In addition to this, Rooney was considered an active and progressive owner in the league's operations, most famously by successfully pushing for the Rooney Rule, an affirmative action policy requiring all NFL franchises to interview persons of color for head coaching vacancies. Concurrently with his role with the Steelers, Rooney also served as United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2014. Rooney died on April 13 at the age of 84.
The following rule changes were approved for the 2017 NFL season at the owner's meeting on March 28, 2017:
The following rule changes were approved for the 2017 NFL season at the NFL Spring League meeting on May 23, 2017:
The following will be "points of emphasis" for the 2017 season:
The ban on teams contacting potential coaching candidates until that candidate's team has been eliminated from the playoffs was tabled.
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|Team||2016 head coach||2016 interim||2017 replacement||Reason for leaving||Story/accomplishments|
|Buffalo Bills||Rex Ryan||Anthony Lynn||Sean McDermott||Fired||Ryan was fired with one week remaining in the 2016 regular season and a 15-16 record with no playoff appearances in two seasons. His twin brother, assistant head coach Rob Ryan, was also dismissed. Ryan signed on as a commentator for ESPN, replacing Trent Dilfer. Lynn began the 2016 season as running backs coach, then moved to offensive coordinator when Greg Roman was fired in week 3, then interim head coach after the Ryans' dismissal. Lynn lost his one game as interim head coach. Former Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was named as the Bills' new head coach on January 11, 2017. Meanwhile, Lynn was hired as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.|
|Denver Broncos||Gary Kubiak||Vance Joseph||Retired||Kubiak stepped down after two seasons due to health concerns, with a victory in Super Bowl 50 and a 24-10 record, including postseason games. Vance Joseph, who spent the previous season as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator, was hired on January 11, 2017.|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Gus Bradley||Doug Marrone||Fired||Bradley was fired with two weeks remaining in the 2016 season and a 14-48 (.226) record with no playoff appearances in four seasons. He is expected to join Anthony Lynn with the Chargers, with Bradley as defensive coordinator. Marrone, the Jaguars' offensive line coach, was previously head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14; he went 1-1 in his two games as interim head coach of the Jaguars. On January 9, 2017, the Jaguars announced that Marrone would be named permanent head coach.|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Mike McCoy||Anthony Lynn||McCoy was fired after four seasons, with one playoff appearance and a 27-37 record. He then joined the Denver Broncos, serving as Vance Joseph's offensive coordinator.|
|Los Angeles Rams||Jeff Fisher||John Fassel||Sean McVay||After receiving a two-year contract extension prior to the season, Fisher was fired after going 4-9 through the first 13 games of the 2016 season, and 31-45-1 (.414) in his five-year tenure in St. Louis and Los Angeles. Under his tenure, the Rams never finished better than 7-8-1 (2012) and never reached the playoffs. Fassel, the son of former NFL head coach Jim Fassel, has been the Rams' special teams coach since 2012; he went 0-3 in the interim. On January 12, Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay was named head coach. Sean McVay is the grandson of former San Francisco 49ers GM John McVay. At the time of his hiring, McVay was age 30, making him the youngest person to become a head coach (excluding the player-coaches of the 1920s) in NFL history.|
|San Francisco 49ers||Chip Kelly||Kyle Shanahan||Kelly was fired after one season with a 2-14 record. Kyle Shanahan, who most recently served as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator, was named the new coach of the 49ers on February 6, 2017. Due to league anti-tampering rules, the 49ers had to wait until after the completion of the Falcons' playoff run, before formally hiring Shanahan.|
|Team||Position||2016 office holder||Reason for leaving||2017 office holder||Notes|
|San Francisco 49ers||GM||Trent Baalke||Fired||John Lynch||Baalke, who spent the past twelve years with the team, informed KNBR-AM in San Francisco on January 1, 2017, that he had been fired. On January 29, 2017, Lynch, a former player and broadcaster, was named the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers; it is his first front office position.|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||EVP-FO||position created||Tom Coughlin||Coughlin, the team's inaugural head coach, was rehired as executive vice president of football operations on January 9, 2017. He had spent the 2016 season out of football after several years of coaching the New York Giants.|
|Indianapolis Colts||GM||Ryan Grigson||Fired||Chris Ballard||Grigson was relieved of his duties as Colts general manager on January 21, 2017. On January 30, 2017, Chris Ballard, who had spent the past four seasons as director of football operations for the Kansas City Chiefs, was named the new GM of the Colts.|
|Washington Redskins||GM||Scot McCloughan||TBA||McCloughan was fired on March 9, 2017, after two seasons with the Redskins. Doug Williams was named senior vice president of player personnel on June 13, 2017.|
|Buffalo Bills||GM||Doug Whaley||Brandon Beane||Whaley was fired the morning of April 30, 2017, immediately following the draft. He had spent seven seasons with the Bills, four of them as general manager. Brandon Beane, who had spent the previous 19 seasons with the Carolina Panthers (most recently as assistant general manager), was hired as the new general manager on May 9, 2017.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||GM||John Dorsey||Brett Veach||Dorsey was unexpectedly fired on June 22, 2017 after four seasons. Brett Veach, who had spent the past four seasons as the Chiefs co-director of player personnel, was promoted to general manager on July 10, 2017.|
|Carolina Panthers||GM||Dave Gettleman||Marty Hurney||Gettleman was unexpectedly fired after four seasons on July 17, 2017.Marty Hurney, who was the Panther's GM from 2002-2012, was rehired as the interim general manager for the 2017 season. The team plans to conduct a search for a permanent general manager after the season ends.|
The stadium in which the Arizona Cardinals play their home games is in the process of obtaining a new naming rights agreement. The University of Phoenix, which owns the naming rights to the Cardinals' home field, is planning to terminate the final nine years of a 20-year agreement, but will continue to keep its name on the stadium.
The stadium in which the Denver Broncos play their home games is in the process of obtaining a new naming rights agreement. Sporting goods retailer Sports Authority, which had owned the naming rights to the Broncos' home field since 2011, filed for bankruptcy in March 2016, and liquidated all of their stores. The Broncos bought out the existing naming rights contract with permission from the Delaware District United States bankruptcy court in August 2016. Three months later, the Broncos selected American talent agency WME-IMG to secure a new naming rights partner for their home field, which, to date, still carries the name Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
On January 12, 2017, the San Diego Chargers exercised their option to relocate to Los Angeles as the Los Angeles Chargers. They will be joining the Los Angeles Rams as tenants in their new stadium, Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California when that stadium is complete in 2020. For the time being, the Chargers will play at the 30,000 seat StubHub Center in Carson, California, the smallest venue (in terms of number of seats) the league has used for a full season since 1956.
On January 19, 2017, the Oakland Raiders filed paperwork to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada. The NFL officially approved the Raiders relocation to Las Vegas on March 27. Unlike the Chargers, the Raiders will remain at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through at least the 2018 season (with the 2019 season to be determined) while Las Vegas Stadium is built, with the team moving to Nevada in 2019 or 2020.
The Los Angeles Rams announced to have 60,128 spectators in the first home game on week 1. However, reports estimate that spectators only filled a third of the 93,607 seats of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Los Angeles Chargers did not sell out their week 2 game at the 30,000 seat StubHub Center.
This is the fourth season under the current broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This includes "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday Afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season (regardless of the conference of the visiting team). NBC will continue to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN will continue to air Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl. NBC will also serve as the broadcaster of Super Bowl LII. This will also be the second and final year of the current Thursday Night Football contract with CBS, NBC, and NFL Network. Along with ESPN's simulcasted Wild Card game on ABC, ESPN announced on May 24, 2017 that the 2018 Pro Bowl will also be simulcast on ABC, marking the return of the Pro Bowl to the network for the first time since 2003. For the first 9 weeks of the regular season, ESPN2 will simulcast ESPN Deportes' Spanish-language Monday Night Football broadcasts. The simulcast will end after Week 9 due to ESPN2's Monday-night college basketball broadcasts.
In over-the-top rights, Amazon Video acquired non-exclusive streaming rights to the 10 broadcast television Thursday Night Football games for $50 million. These streams will be exclusive to paid Amazon Prime subscribers, in contrast to Twitter, which held the rights to the same package in 2016 and had made those streams free to most of the world.
Verizon Communications acquired international streaming rights to an NFL International Series game in London between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, in a similar arrangement to the 2015 game that was streamed by Yahoo!--which has since been acquired by Verizon. The game will stream across Verizon's platforms, including Yahoo!, AOL, go90, and Complex. Despite the loss of TNF streaming, NFL Network will continue to partner with Twitter for streaming shows, including NFL Blitz Live (which premiered on August 29, 2017 and will run on Monday to Thursday nights through the season), and other video content.
The league has sought to reduce the number of standard commercial breaks (media timeouts) on its telecasts from 21 to 16, four in each quarter, with each break extended by one additional 30-second commercial. One particular scenario the league sought to eliminate is the "double-up," in which a network cuts to a commercial after a scoring play, then airs the kickoff, and again goes to commercial before play from scrimmage resumes. Under the proposal, the league will allow networks to cut to commercial during instant replay reviews, which it had not been allowed to do before. Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the changes are being made in an attempt to consolidate downtime between the actual game play so that there are fewer and less noticeable interruptions; he does not expect the changes to have an appreciable impact on the real-time length of a game, which currently clocks in at slightly over three hours.
The NFL will also, as a trial, lift its ban on the broadcast of commercials for distilled spirits during its telecasts. However, they are subject to restrictions; a maximum of four liquor ads may be broadcast per-game, along with two per-pregame and postgame show. These ads may not contain football-related themes or target underage viewers, and must contain a "prominent social responsibility message".
Tony Romo, who announced his retirement as a player on April 4, 2017, was hired by CBS, and will replace Phil Simms as lead color commentator. Simms and Nate Burleson, who comes over from NFL Network, will replace Tony Gonzalez and Bart Scott on CBS's pregame show, The NFL Today.Jay Cutler also announced his retirement from professional football on May 5 and was slated to join Fox as a color analyst for its NFL coverage; he later rescinded that announcement in August and joined the Miami Dolphins. Gonzalez will move to Fox, where he will join Fox NFL Kickoff; upon his departure, Gonzalez stated that he wished to pursue opportunities closer to his home in California, rather than travel to New York weekly to appear on CBS. James Lofton, coming over from radio, will replace Solomon Wilcots as a CBS analyst.
On May 31, 2017, it was announced that Mike Tirico would replace Al Michaels on play-by-play on NBC's portion of the Thursday Night Football package, joined by Cris Collinsworth. The NFL had previously required this role to be filled by NBC's lead broadcast team of Michaels and Collinsworth; Tirico called a limited slate of games in 2016, including several NBC-broadcast games as a fill-in for Michaels (who voluntarily took several games off due to the increased number he was calling that season), and as part of a secondary team for selected games the TNF package. He will also succeed Bob Costas as the lead studio host for NBC. Due to its proximity to the 2018 Winter Olympics (where he is also succeeding Bob Costas as lead host), Tirico will not participate in NBC's Super Bowl LII coverage.
Beth Mowins was the second woman to call play-by-play for a national NFL broadcast, and was the first to do so since Gayle Sierens in 1987, when she served as play-by-play announcer for the nightcap in ESPN's Week 1 Monday Night doubleheader, with Rex Ryan as her color commentator. In an unusual case of a broadcaster working for two networks in the same season, Mowins will also call a regional game for CBS in Week 3, with Jay Feely as her partner.
|Rank||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV rating ||Window||Significance|
|1||September 17, 4:25 ET||Dallas Cowboys||17||Denver Broncos||42||Fox||26.0||14.3||Late DH[a]|
|2||September 10, 8:30 ET||New York Giants||3||Dallas Cowboys||19||NBC||24.4||13.4||SNF||Cowboys-Giants Rivalry|
|3||September 10, 4:25 ET||Seattle Seahawks||9||Green Bay Packers||17||Fox||22.8||12.7||Late DH[b]|
|4||September 7, 8:30 ET||Kansas City Chiefs||42||New England Patriots||27||NBC||21.8||12.6||Kickoff Game|
|5||September 17, 8:30 ET||Green Bay Packers||23||Atlanta Falcons||34||20.2||11.3||SNF||NFC Championship Game Rematch|
*Note -- Late DH matchups listed in table are the matchups that were shown to the largest percentage of the market.
All games are televised live, which can't help ticket sales for what amounts to practice games.