With this move — and a rescheduling of the combine from early March to mid-to-late March — the NFL pretty much has an event in every single month of the off-season.
January is the Playoffs.
February is the Super Bowl (and the Pro Bowl if it continues on…).
March is the Combine.
April is the start of free agency signings.
And now May is the Rookie Draft.
Say what you want about Goodell, this is smart marketing.
Roger Goodell confirmed Tuesday at the NFL’s spring meetings in Boston that the draft will be moved to May in 2014, sometime between the 8th and 17th of the month.
Goodell said the change was needed next year because the venue, Radio City Music Hall, will host an Easter show in April.
“At this late stage, for us to do it the right way, we don’t see having any choice but to move the date,” he said.
However, Goodell said he expects the draft to remain in May, with other adjustments to the NFL’s calendar, including the dates for the combine and the opening of free agency, to be discussed with the players’ union.
He said trying to stage the draft in April would mean the NFL would have to find a different venue or city. He emphasized, however, that the league is pleased with its experiences at Radio City Music Hall.
“We think we have found a location in New York that meets our requirements and where we think we can continue to grow the event,” he said.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, Goodell can set the date of the draft without the NFLPA’s approval, although he would prefer to have the union’s blessing to maintain league harmony.
Goodell said owners “didn’t reach any conclusion” in their discussion about changing the dates of the combine and free agency.
“We are negotiating that with the union,” he said. “We have a discussion with them sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I am sure that will come up. We think that is a good change for fans and for football.”
By the way, June now would be the start of mini-camps and “OTA’s” otherwise known as “Organized Team Activities,” July has the start of Training Camp, August has pre-season games; with the real thing kicking off in September.
The move also has one other benefit for teams after the Draft. If the Draft really is this late, nearly all four-year seniors in college will have had their commencements and received their degrees. That will allow team to not have to worry about new draft picks missing OTAs (as happened this year for some) and other activities because they don’t have their college degrees yet.
[NFL union bylaws and the CBA currently state that you must be three years removed from high school before entering the league. If you stay for the fourth year and are graduating, you can’t participate until awarded said degree with the rest of your graduating class at your college. Actually happened to a few teams this year.]
The biggest hurdle to any sort of schedule and calendar change is going to be convincing the NFLPA that there will be enough time for veteran free agents to be signed and learn the systems their new teams use. Usually, the Combine is the start of the “NFL New Year,” which means that’s when free agents can begin looking for new teams. Reportedly, the new calendar is supposed to say the new start of the year is a few weeks after the Super Bowl.
With some veterans still unsigned as of right now, or currently striking last-minute deals, that’s something the NFLPA may have a hard time believing will be possible under a new calendar.