2015 NFL season

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This article is about the American football season in the United States. For the Gaelic football season in Ireland, see 2015 National Football League (Ireland).
2015 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 10, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Playoffs
Start date January 9, 2016
Super Bowl 50
Date February 7, 2016
Site Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Pro Bowl
Date January 31, 2016
Site Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The 2015 NFL season, the 96th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL), is scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 10, 2015 with the annual kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. The season will conclude with Super Bowl 50,[note 1] the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.[1]

Player movement[edit]

The 2015 NFL League Year began on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 4PM ET. On Saturday, March 7, clubs started to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who became unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2014 contracts at 4PM ET on March 10.[2] On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 clubs exercised options for 2015 on all players who have option clauses in their 2014 contracts, submitted qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation, submitted a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2014 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit, Top-51[jargon] began, all clubs must be under the 2015 salary cap, all 2014 player contracts expired at 4PM ET and trading period for 2015 began. (4PM ET).[3]

Free agency[edit]

A total of 453 players were eligible for some form of free agency at the beginning of the free agency period.[4] In addition, a number of highly paid players were released after the start of the league year to allow their teams to regain space under the salary cap. Among the high profile players who changed teams via free agency were cornerbacks Darrelle Revis (left the Patriots, joined the Jets),[5] Antonio Cromartie (from Cardinals to Jets),[6] Tramon Williams (from Packers to Browns)[7] and Byron Maxwell (from Seahawks to Eagles);[8] defensive end Greg Hardy (from Panthers to Cowboys);[9] defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh (from Lions to Dolphins),[10][11] Terrance Knighton (from Broncos to Redskins),[12] Nick Fairley (from Lions to Rams),[13] Dan Williams (from Cardinals to Raiders)[14] and Vince Wilfork (from Patriots to Texans);[15] guards Mike Iupati (from 49ers to Cardinals),[16] James Carpenter (from Seahawks to Jets),[17] and Orlando Franklin (from Broncos to Chargers);[18] center Rodney Hudson (from Chiefs to Raiders);[19][20] wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (from Eagles to Chiefs),[21] Eddie Royal (from Chargers to Bears),[22] Torrey Smith (from Ravens to 49ers),[23] and Andre Johnson (from Texans to Colts);[24] running backs Demarco Murray (from Cowboys to Eagles),[25] Frank Gore (from 49ers to Colts)[26] and Ryan Mathews (from Chargers to Eagles);[27] and linebackers Brian Orakpo (from Redskins to Titans),[28] and Nate Irving (from Broncos to Colts).[29]

Draft[edit]

For more details on this topic, see 2015 NFL Draft.

The 2015 NFL Draft was held April 30–May 2, 2015, in Chicago.[30] The draft process began with the NFL Scouting Combine, where draft-eligible players were evaluated by team personnel, which was held in Indianapolis on February 17–23. On October 2, 2014, Auditorium Theatre in Chicago was announced as the official site of the draft.[31] The previous fifty NFL drafts (since 1965) had been held in New York.[32] The 2015 NFL Draft was the first to feature an outdoor component, where fans would be able to see the Commissioner on the Auditorium Theatre stage from across the street in Grant Park; this area was called Draft Town.[33] In the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston the first overall selection.[34]

Preseason[edit]

Training camps for the 2015 season began July 22 and will continue through the end of preseason, September 3. The normal training camp window runs from late July to late August or early September. Most of the camps will have rookies report first, then veterans. At this point, some teams will practice versus another organization, like the Bills practiced against the Browns this year. Teams may start training camp no earlier than fifteen days before the team's first scheduled preseason game. At this point, the rosters for each team will be open to 90 players. These rosters must be cut to 75 by Week 3 of preseason, and the final 53-man roster must be submitted by the end of preseason.

Prior to the start of the regular season, each team will play at least four exhibition games. The preseason schedule got underway with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Sunday evening, August 9. The Hall of Fame game is a traditional part of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend celebrating new Hall of Fame members. It was played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium which is located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio. The game, which was televised in the U.S. on NBC, featured the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers; as in previous years, each team had an inductee in the class of 2015 (Mick Tinglehoff for the Vikings, Jerome Bettis for the Steelers).[35] The 65-game preseason schedule will end on Thursday, September 3, a week before the start of the regular season, with each team having played four preseason games, except for the Steelers and Vikings, who will play five games. The preliminary preseason schedule was released Thursday, April 9.

Regular season[edit]

The 2015 regular season will feature 256 games to be played out over a seventeen-week schedule which begins on the Thursday night following Labor Day. Each of the league's 32 teams will play a 16-game schedule with one bye week for each team scheduled between weeks four and twelve. The slate will also feature seventeen games on Monday night, two of which will be played at the end of the first week of the regular season. Additionally, there will be no Monday Night game at the end of the final week of the regular season, the same as in previous years. There will be games played on Thursday, including the opening game of the regular season on Thursday, September 10 and three games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season concludes with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, January 3, all of which are intra-divisional matchups, as it has been since 2010.

Scheduling formula

Under the NFL's scheduling formula, each team plays each of the other three teams in their own division twice (one home and one away). In addition, a team plays against all four teams in one other division within the conference, on a 3-year rotation; and one division from the opposite conference, on a 4-year rotation. 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 who 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 their conference that also finished first in its respective division). The pre-set division pairings for 2015 are as follows:[36]

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

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

Highlights of the 2015 schedule include:

  • Christmas: Christmas, December 25, falls on a Friday in 2015. In an unusual move for the league, the Oakland Raiders will host the San Diego Chargers at 8:25 p.m. EST (5:25 p.m. local time) on December 24. The game will be aired on the NFL Network. This is the second ever night game on Christmas Eve (the first was in 2007, which was also played in the Pacific Time Zone) and the first time the league has played on a Thursday Christmas Eve. The league has traditionally avoided playing night games on Christmas Eve and, in years past, moved games that would usually play on the night of Christmas Eve to another day of the week, an option the league did not exercise in 2015.

Postseason[edit]

The 2015 playoffs will begin with the Wild Card playoff round on the weekend of Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10, 2016. The Divisional round games will then be played on the weekend of Saturday, January 16 and Sunday, January 17, 2016, with the winner of each of the games visiting the top two seeded teams in each conference. The Conference championships will be held on Sunday, January 24, 2016 with AFC Championship Game and the NFC Championship Game.

Super Bowl 50 will be held on the first Sunday of February, The game will decide the 2015 NFL Champion and will be played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, February 7, 2016. Instead of naming it Super Bowl L with Roman numerals like in previous Super Bowls, this game will be marketed with the Arabic numeral "50".[1] According to Jaime Weston, the league's vice president of brand and creative, the primary reason was that the league's graphic designers had difficulty designing a suitable, aesthetically pleasing logo with only the roman numeral "L".[1]

Rule changes[edit]

The following rule changes were passed for the 2015 NFL season at the owner's meeting on Wednesday, March 25, 2015:[39]

  • Allow a certified medical trainer to call a medical time-out when a player appears disoriented and/or concussed. This time-out is not to be charged to the team whose player is injured, even inside the two-minute warning. The only substitution allowed is for the injured player and for a single player from the opposing team to match up.
  • Making the practice of a receiver declared ineligible lining up in the slot formation illegal; ineligible receivers must line up inside the tackle box. This was in response to the New England Patriots using this tactic in the 2014-15 NFL playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Extended the restriction for peel-back blocks to include all of the offensive team instead of just those inside of the tackle box.
  • Expanded the definition of a "defenseless receiver" to include intended receivers in the air during and after an interception.
  • Making offensive backs who chop a defender engaged above the waist by another offensive player subject to a chop-block penalty (15 yards).
  • Pushing teammates at the scrimmage line during punts/field goals is illegal.
  • Expanded instant replay to include whether time should be put back on the game clock at the end of any period.
  • Linebackers can now be numbered 40-49.

The following changes to the extra point rules were passed for the 2015 NFL season at the owner's meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015:[40]

  • The line of scrimmage for extra point tries will move to the 15-yard line from the two-yard line. Two-point conversions will still be spotted at the two-yard line.
  • Defenses will be allowed to return turnovers on two-point tries, or blocked or missed PAT kicks to the opposing end zone for two points, mirroring the NCAA College football rule adopted in the 1988 season.

The following changes to game ball protocol were passed for the 2015 NFL season on Monday, July 27, 2015.[41]

  • There will be increased testing, oversight and security surrounding the balls. At random games, officials will measure the PSI of 24 footballs at halftime. Two officials, instead of only the referee, will measure and record the inflation of footballs before the game. These changes were made in response to the "deflategate" scandal.

An additional rule was also passed during the offseason allowing both teams to wear their colored jerseys for Thursday Night Football contests.[42]

Head coach/front office personnel changes[edit]

Head coach[edit]

Team 2014 head coach 2014 interim head coach Reason for leaving 2015 replacement Story/Accomplishments
Atlanta Falcons Mike Smith Fired Dan Quinn Smith compiled a record of 67–50 (.573), including the postseason, in seven seasons with the Falcons. He is the only coach to lead the franchise to consecutive winning seasons and consecutive playoff berths.[43]

Quinn, who never held a head coaching position prior to 2015, had served as defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks; under league anti-tampering rules, the Falcons had to wait several weeks, while the Seahawks completed their playoff run, before formally hiring Quinn.[44]

Buffalo Bills Doug Marrone Resigned Rex Ryan Marrone compiled a record of 15–17 (.469) in two seasons with the Bills and resigned on December 31, 2014.[45] His tenure was marked by the team's first winning season since 2004 but also by tensions with general manager Doug Whaley and players, especially Mike Williams, who requested a trade during the season. Marrone's contract had an opt-out clause which allowed him to resign his position within three days of the end of the season and still collect his full salary for the rest of the contract (he had one year remaining) if the team changed ownership which it did when the Bills were sold to the Pegula family in September. Marrone joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as offensive line coach.[46]

On January 12, 2015, the Bills hired Rex Ryan as their head coach. Ryan had spent the previous six seasons as head coach of the New York Jets.[47]

Chicago Bears Marc Trestman Fired John Fox Trestman compiled a record of 13–19 (.406) in two seasons with the Bears, and had finished the 2014 season with a 5–11 record. He and general manager Phil Emery were both dismissed on December 29, 2014.[48] Trestman then became offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.[49]

Fox was hired on January 16, 2015 to become the head coach. Fox spent the past 4 season as the head coach of the Denver Broncos.[50]

Denver Broncos John Fox Mutual decision Gary Kubiak In four seasons with the Broncos, Fox compiled a record of 49–22 (.690) including postseason games, won his division all four seasons, and appeared in Super Bowl XLVIII, but was bounced from the playoffs in the divisional round the other three years. By mutual agreement, Fox left the team on January 12, 2015, following the most recent divisional playoff loss.[51]

Kubiak was hired on January 19, 2015 to become the head coach. Kubiak, formerly head coach of the Houston Texans from 2006 to 2013, spent the past season as the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.[52]

New York Jets Rex Ryan Fired Todd Bowles Ryan compiled a record of 50–52 (.490), including postseason games, in six seasons as head coach of the Jets. Ryan led the Jets to two AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons, losing both, but failed to earn a winning season or playoff berth in his last four. He and general manager John Idzik, Jr. were both dismissed December 29, 2014.[53]

Bowles was hired on January 14, 2015, to become their head coach after serving as defensive coordinator for Arizona Cardinals since 2013; he previously served as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2011.[54]

Oakland Raiders Dennis Allen Tony Sparano Fired Jack Del Rio Allen was fired on September 29, 2014 after a 8–28 (.222) record as Raiders head coach, and an 0–4 start to the 2014 season.[55] Allen joined the staff of the New Orleans Saints for the 2015 season.[56]

Sparano, formerly head coach of the Miami Dolphins, finished the season as interim head coach, compiling a record of 3–9.[57] He then became tight ends coach for the San Francisco 49ers.[58]

Jack Del Rio was hired on January 14, 2015, to become their head coach after serving as defensive coordinator for Denver Broncos since 2012; he previously served as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003–2011.[59]

San Francisco 49ers Jim Harbaugh Mutual decision Jim Tomsula Harbaugh compiled a record of 49–22–1 (.688), including postseason games, in four seasons with the 49ers, and led the team to three NFC Championship Game appearances and a berth in Super Bowl XLVII. After a mediocre 8–8 season in 2014 (the first time his team did not make the playoffs) and amid tensions between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office, Harbaugh left to become head coach at his alma mater, the Michigan Wolverines football team.[60]

On January 14, 2015, Jim Tomsula was promoted to head coach after serving as defensive line coach with the team since 2007; it is his second time at the helm, as he previously served as the 49ers' interim head coach for one game, after Mike Singletary's firing in 2010.[61]

Front office[edit]

Team Position 2014 office holder Reason for leaving 2015 replacement Story/Accomplishments
New York Jets GM John Idzik Fired Mike Maccagnan Idzik was fired after two seasons with the New York Jets.[53] He then joined the staff of the Jacksonville Jaguars as a consultant.[62]

On January 13, 2015, the Jets hired Maccagnan as new general manager of the team. He was the director of college scouting for the Houston Texans prior to his hiring.[63]

Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery Ryan Pace Emery was fired after three seasons in Chicago.[64]

Pace was hired on January 8, 2015, after serving as the director of player personnel with the Saints since 2013.[65]

Philadelphia Eagles EVP-FO Tom Gamble Howie Roseman Roseman, who served as General Manager of the Eagles from 2010 to 2014, was promoted up to Executive Vice President of Football Operations. The General Manager position Roseman leaves behind will remain unfilled, and head coach Chip Kelly will fulfill the duties of that position.[citation needed]

Stadiums[edit]

Naming rights deals[edit]

LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans, was renamed Nissan Stadium. Though financial terms remain undisclosed, the naming rights deal is expected to last for 20 years. The previous naming rights, which had been held by Nashville-based building materials manufacturer Louisiana-Pacific (LP) since 2006, was set to expire in 2015.[66]

U.S. Bank Stadium[edit]

It is expected that this will be the Minnesota Vikings' final season playing at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus before moving to their new U.S. Bank Stadium in Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, which still remains under construction.

NFL relocation candidates[edit]

Oakland Raiders[edit]

San Antonio[edit]

On July 29, 2014, reports surfaced that the Oakland Raiders may consider relocating to San Antonio in 2015 after owner Mark Davis met with San Antonio civic leaders the week before at the encouragement of former Raider Cliff Branch, which Davis was in town to visit for a local ceremony for Branch. The Raiders themselves had acknowledged Davis being in San Antonio for the event for Branch before news broke about a possible relocation, but would not confirm nor deny that Davis also mentioned being there discussing moving his team east.[67] Among the two existing NFL teams in Texas, Houston Texans' owner Bob McNair and Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones — the latter of which has San Antonio as part of his territorial rights and previously voiced support of an NFL team moving there when the New Orleans Saints temporarily played in San Antonio in 2005 due to damages to the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina — both favor an NFL team playing in San Antonio.[68]

Though San Antonio is a smaller market than the San Francisco Bay Area, the Raiders wouldn't be sharing the market with another NFL team, and would only compete with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs among major sports teams. Additionally, the Raiders would use the Alamodome as a temporary home until an NFL-specific stadium could be constructed.[67] The team's lease at the O.co Coliseum expired after the 2013 season, and the Raiders are tenants of the Coliseum on a year-to-year basis.[69]

On September 3, 2014, the city of Oakland reached a tentative deal to build a new football stadium in Oakland, which would result in the Coliseum being demolished; Davis did not respond to the proposal, which would also force the Oakland Athletics to build a new stadium of their own (which they have yet to agree to do), while Alameda County (co-owners of the current stadium) indicated they would probably not support the plan.[70] Davis has, in the meantime, continued to negotiate with San Antonio officials and had team officials scout the Alamodome to determine if it would be suitable for the NFL.[71]

Shared stadium with San Diego Chargers and possible realignment[edit]
Main article: Carson Stadium

On February 19, 2015, the Raiders and San Diego Chargers announced plans for a privately-financed $1.7 billion stadium that the two teams would build in Carson, California if they were to move to the Los Angeles market.[72] Such a move would mark a return to the nation's second-largest market for both teams; the Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994 while the Chargers called LA home for their inaugural season in the American Football League. The Chargers are currently the only NFL team to play in Southern California, with San Diego being a 125-mile (201 km) distance from Los Angeles and currently have Los Angeles as a secondary market. The Chargers have been looking to replace Qualcomm Stadium (which, like the O.co Coliseum opened in the late 1960s) since at least 2003, and have had an annual out clause in which it can move in exchange for paying a fine to the city of San Diego for its remaining years on its lease.

Due to both television contracts and NFL bylaws, if both of the longstanding division rivals were to move to LA, one of the teams would have to move to the NFC West, something that Mark Davis volunteered the Raiders to be willing to do. The Raiders moving to the NFC would be considered ironic seeing that Davis's father Al Davis was a staunch opponent of the NFL during its rivalry and eventual merger with the AFL. If such a realignment were to occur, one of the existing NFC West teams would take their spot in the AFC West. The early rumor was that the Seattle Seahawks, who played in the AFC West from 1977 to 2001, would be the favorite to switch conferences with the Raiders. However, that team's growing rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers (who are assured of staying in the NFC West) now point to either the Arizona Cardinals or the St. Louis Rams (if the latter stays in St. Louis) moving to the AFC West to take the Raiders spot. If the Rams stay in St. Louis, switching them to the AFC would allow for a yearly home-and-home with the cross-state Kansas City Chiefs.[73]

St. Louis Rams[edit]

The Rams and the St. Louis CVC (Convention & Visitors Commission) began negotiating deals to get the Rams home stadium, the Edward Jones Dome into the top 25 percent of stadiums in the league (i.e., top eight teams of the thirty two NFL teams in reference to luxury boxes, amenities and overall fan experience). Under the terms of the lease agreement, the St. Louis CVC was required to make modifications to the Edward Jones Dome in 2005. However, then-owner, Georgia Frontiere, waived the provision in exchange for cash that served as a penalty for the city's noncompliance. The City of St. Louis, in subsequent years, made changes to the score board and increased the natural lighting by replacing panels with windows, although the overall feel remains dark. The minor renovations which totaled about $70 million did not bring the stadium within the specifications required under the lease agreement. On February 1, 2013, an Arbitrator (3 panel) selected to preside over the arbitration process found that the Edward Jones Dome was not in the top 25% of all NFL venues as required under the terms of the lease agreement between the Rams and the CVC. The Arbitrator (3 panel) further found that the estimated $700 million in proposed renovations by the Rams was not unreasonable given the terms of the lease agreement. Finally, the City of St. Louis was Ordered to pay the Rams attorneys' fees which totaled a reported $2 million.

Publicly, city, county and state officials have expressed no interest in providing further funding to the Edward Jones Dome in light of those entities, as well as taxpayers, continuing to owe approximately $300 million more on that facility. As such, if a resolution is not reached by the end of the 2014-2015 NFL season and the City of St. Louis remains non-compliant in its obligations under the lease agreement, the Rams would be free to nullify their lease and relocate.

On January 31, 2014, both the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land adjacent to the Forum in Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California. It would be, by the most conservative estimates, sufficient land on which a NFL-proper stadium may be constructed. The purchase price was rumored to have been between US$90–100 million. Commissioner Roger Goodell represented that Mr. Kroenke informed the league of the purchase. As an NFL owner, any purchase of land in which a potential stadium could be built must be disclosed to the league. This development has further fueled rumors that the Rams intend to return its management and football operations to Southern California. The land was initially targeted for a Walmart Supercenter but Walmart could not get the necessary permits to build the center. Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke who is a member of the Walton family and many of Kroenke's real estate deals have involved Walmart properties.[74][75] On January 5, 2015, Kroenke formally announced his plans to build an NFL-caliber stadium on the Inglewood property.[76] The city of St. Louis responded by unveiling a plan for a new, open-air, riverfront stadium that could accommodate either the NFL or a Major League Soccer expansion team on January 9 and hopes the city can use the NFL's bylaws to force the Rams to stay in St. Louis. On January 5, 2015, The Los Angeles Times reported that Stan Kroenke and Stockbridge Capital Group are partnering up in to developing a new NFL Stadium owned by Kroenke. The project will include a stadium of up to 80,000 seats and a performance venue of 6,000 seats while reconfiguring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access. The stadium is likely be ready by 2018. On February 24, 2015, the Inglewood City Council approved the stadium and the initiative with construction on the stadium planned to begin in December 2015.

With the Chargers, Raiders and Rams proposing their own stadiums as part of their Los Angeles relocation contingency plans, the proposed Farmers Field project was permanently scrapped in March 2015.[77] Farmers Field was a proposal from Anschutz Entertainment Group to lure an NFL team to Los Angeles by promising a new stadium, but AEG placed restrictions on any relocation that the rest of the league found unacceptable, and the project had laid dormant since 2012.[78]

Super Bowl 50 promotion[edit]

To mark the 50th year of the Super Bowl, various gold-themed promotions and initiatives will be held during the 2015 season. Gold-tinted logos were implemented across the NFL's properties (including the Draft, Kickoff, and Playoffs) and will be painted on fields, the numbering of the 50-yard line on fields will be painted gold, and beginning on week 7, all sideline jackets and hats will feature gold-trimmed logos. The 2015 schedule will feature a number of Super Bowl re-matches, gold footballs will be given to each high school that has had a player or coach appear in the Super Bowl, and "homecoming" events will also be held by teams at games.[79][80]

New uniforms and patches[edit]

  • The Cleveland Browns unveiled new uniforms on April 14, 2015. There are three jersey colors and three pants colors: orange, brown, and white, allowing for nine possible uniform combinations. The uniforms have "Cleveland" above the numbers on the front, "Browns" down the leg, and "Dawg Pound" inside the collar. The uniforms are the first in the NFL to utilize contrast stitching and chainmail/raised numbers. The city name in front and team name down the leg are also NFL firsts.[81] On February 24, the Browns slightly tweaked their logo. The orange on their helmet is brighter and the facemask, which was gray, is now brown. The team also updated their secondary logo.[82]
  • The San Francisco 49ers unveiled a new black alternate uniform on May 1, 2015. The jerseys have red numerals with matching black pants. This will be the first alternate uniform in the team's franchise history.[83]
  • The Tennessee Titans will switch their primary colored jerseys from light "Titans Blue" to navy blue, the latter of which was the team's primary home jersey color from 1999–2007. Former president and CEO Tommy Smith stated that the light "Titans Blue" jerseys were being phased out.[84]
  • The Green Bay Packers unveiled a new throwback uniform on July 28, 2015. The design features the same layout the Packers used between 1937 and 1949, and again in 1994. Like the previous 1920s-inspired throwbacks, the base colors will be brown, navy blue and yellow.[85]
  • The Miami Dolphins unveiled a new throwback uniform to commemorate the team's 50th season on July 29, 2015. The uniform is a throwback to the Dolphins' inaugural season in 1966. The team will also wear a patch during the entirety of the season.[86]
  • The Oakland Raiders upgraded their uniforms to take advantage of the "Elite 51" technology from Nike, which most teams had been using since 2012.[89]
  • The New England Patriots will be changing the logo on their jerseys from their traditional cursive wordmark to the serif block lettering they adopted when the updated their logo in 2013.[90]

New officials[edit]

Referee Bill Leavy retired after the 2014 season.[91] On May 13, 2015, the NFL promoted line judge John Hussey to the referee position.[92] In addition to Hussey's promotion to referee, the NFL hired 10 more officials, including the first full-time female official in NFL history, Sarah Thomas, who will work as a line judge,[93] as well as Walt Coleman IV, the son of referee Walt Coleman, who will work as a side judge.[94]

Media[edit]

This will be the second season under 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 whether the visiting team is in the AFC (which CBS normally airs) or the NFC (which is normally carried by Fox). NBC will continue to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN will continue carrying Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl. NFL Sunday Ticket will continue to be exclusive to DirecTV customers under an eight-year agreement that begins with this season.[95] On May 12, 2015, it was announced that ABC would simulcast ESPN's wildcard game, marking the first time that ABC has broadcast any NFL game in nearly 10 years.[96] Fox will also expand its coverage by moving its additional pre-game show, Fox NFL Kickoff, to the main Fox network from Fox Sports 1.[97]

After its successful inaugural season under the arrangement, the NFL extended CBS's contract for Thursday Night Football into the 2015 season; as with the previous season, NFL Network will air all of the games in the package, but they will be produced by CBS—which will air the first seven games (Weeks 2-8) of the package and an additional Thursday Night Football game in Week 13 (the week after Thanksgiving). The package also includes one Saturday game in Week 15 and one in Week 16, both of which will be exclusive to NFL Network. CBS will also serve as the broadcaster of Super Bowl 50.

On March 23, 2015, league owners voted to, as an experiment, suspend the NFL's blackout rules for the 2015 season; no games will be blacked out in their home markets because of insufficient ticket sales. These moves came after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's September 2014 decision to stop enforcing blackout rules on terrestrial television stations, and the fact that, ultimately, no games were blacked out at all during the 2014 season.[98]

The NFL will also experiment with online streaming of games; the International Series game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills will be streamed online worldwide; Yahoo! will handle distribution and promotion, while CBS will handle production of the game.[99] The game will only air on television in the team's home markets, in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports, and in China.[100] Brian Rolapp, the league's executive vice president of media, explained that the experiment was part of the NFL's efforts to attempt alternative distribution models for games, such as those that would appeal to cord cutters.[99][101]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For this Super Bowl only, the league will use the Arabic numeral "50" instead of the Roman numeral "L." See the postseason section for details.

References[edit]

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  4. ^ "2015 Free Agent List" (PDF). National Football League. 
  5. ^ Martin, Kimberley (March 10, 2015). "Darrelle Revis to return to Jets, who also add cornerback Buster Skrine". Newsday. Archived from the original on March 11, 2015. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ Pedulla, Tom. Antonio Cromartie is reunited with Darelle Revis on the Jets. The New York Times. March 12, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Gribble, Andrew (March 16, 2015). "Browns sign DB Tramon Williams". Cleveland Browns. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ Rosenthal, Gregg. "Byron Maxwell to join Eagles on six-year, $60M deal". NFL.com. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Tyler Conway. "Greg Hardy to Cowboys: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction". Bleacher Report. 
  10. ^ Suh signs with Dolphins, cites money as the reason Detroit Free Press, March 11, 2015
  11. ^ Walker, James. "Ndamukong Suh signs record deal". ESPN. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Wesseling, Chris. "Terrance Knighton set to sign with Redskins". NFL.com. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Alper, Josh (March 13, 2015). "Nick Fairley signs with Rams". Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  14. ^ Rosenthal, Gregg (March 11, 2015). "Raiders pick up Curtis Lofton, Dan Williams for defense". NFL.com. 
  15. ^ McClain, John. "Veteran defensive lineman Wilfork agrees to two-year deal with Texans". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  16. ^ Gantt, Darin. "Mike Iupati cashes in with $40 million deal from Cardinals". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
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