The NFL Spring League Meeting is about to commence, and it will be the third time team owners have met in person since the pandemic. The NFL Spring League Meetings are designed to allow the league ownership to discuss critical issues that need to be addressed at the league level that cannot be handled at other levels of discussion. Typically, the meeting in May takes a back seat to the one in March, but this year there are a number of high-profile issues left unresolved.
These could include the approval of team sales, changes to commissioner compensation, and other league-wide matters needing ownership approval, whether that’s a new television deal or a comprehensive bargaining agreement with the player’s union.
Where Does the NFL Spring League Meeting Take Place?
- Dates: May 22-24
- City: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Location: TBD
What Is the Purpose of the NFL Spring League Meeting?
Every year at the annual NFL owners’ meeting, they cover a robust agenda. Due to the agenda’s size and complexity, it is certain some items will be pushed back to the Spring League Meeting. This could include NFL schedule matters, league-policy changes, team sales, etc.
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Additionally, the league holds a coach and front office accelerator program designed to increase the visibility of minority candidates for head coaching, coordinator, and general manager positions.
Will the Sale of the Washington Commanders Be on the Table?
It was announced on May 12 that Dan Snyder and the group led by Josh Harris, had reached an agreement for the sale of the Washington Commanders. This is the first time pen has been put to paper, and a contract has been signed. All that remains is a vote from the other 31 NFL owners, which is expected to allow the sale to go through. Two-thirds of the 32 owners need to vote in the affirmative.
Dan and Tanya Snyder released a statement announcing the purchase agreement:
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for the sale of the Commanders franchise with Josh Harris, an area native, and his impressive group of partners…We look forward to the prompt completion of this transaction and to rooting for Josh and the team in the coming years.”
It is very possible that this signed agreement paves the way for a vote to be held during the Spring League Meeting in Minnesota. If a vote is not held during this meeting, it’s possible it could be another few months before the sale is finalized. The update will formally be presented to owners. The hope is that that update will be ready to be voted on.
For his part, Josh Harris released a statement:
“On behalf of our entire ownership group — including Mitch Rales, my longtime sports business partner David Blitzer, and Earvin Magic Johnson I want to express how excited we are to be considered by the NFL to be the next owners of the Washington Commanders and how committed we are to delivering a championship-caliber franchise for this city and its fanbase.
“…Growing up in Chevy Chase, I experienced first-hand the excitement around the team, including its three Super Bowl victories and long-term winning culture. We look forward to the formal approval of our ownership by the NFL in the months ahead and to having the honor to serve as responsible and accountable stewards of the Commanders franchise moving forward.”
Roger Goodell Likely To Receive Extension
While an extension is very likely, enough details and contract nuances were not agreed to in March, resulting in the finalization of this being pushed to May. ESPN reported that ownership would finalize a multi-year extension for Roger Goodell to remain NFL Commissioner of the NFL. This was to be expected, as Goodell has done an excellent job commissioning the league in the only way that matters to league ownership: bringing in revenue and keeping heat off of ownership.
This was in the works since late 2022, when ownership voted 31-1 to permit negotiations to open on a new contract, according to ESPN. The lone holdout was Jerry Jones, who attempted to block an extension for Goodell back in 2017 because of the scandals the league was experiencing at the time.
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Having recently negotiated a media rights deal worth $110 billion over 11 years — better than the $27.9 billion deal signed in 2014 that ran eight years — it was essentially in the bag. Moving Sunday Ticket over from DirecTV to YouTube TV and launching streaming NFL games through Yahoo and Amazon have helped raise the league’s profile and kept them relevant in a changing media environment.
Because Goodell closed that deal and negotiated the most recent comprehensive bargaining agreement, he not only made his salary but massive bonuses on top of that, earning $128 million over the last two years, according to the New York Times.
That will not match his compensation going forward, as those were bonuses paid out over the course of two years to secure those deals. But it’s likely that Goodell’s base $6 million or so salary will increase while his bonus structure will stay intact. After all, his last extension in 2019 was tied largely to hitting his financial and non-financial goals and could have been worth up to $200 million.
Flex Scheduling For Thursday Night Football
This was an unexpected topic to come out of the meetings in March. Perhaps more unexpected was the public division between owners and officials on whether or not this was a good idea. Players also expressed concern, as anything related to Thursday Night Football is an ornery topic for them.
The push to allow Sunday afternoon games in Weeks 14-17 to be flexed to Thursday Night Football of that week was met with resistance and confusion — most notably from New York Giants owner John Mara. Since leaving linear television and being streamed by Amazon, the viewership number clearly declined.
Reportedly, some owners even questioned if this was a strong-arm attempt from Amazon. David Tepper asked that question directly and was not given a straight answer. All of the division on this issue and public commenting from owners forced this issue to be punted from the March owners’ meetings to the Spring League Meeting. We should find out if any headway was made on the issue.