The National Football League (NFL) will celebrate its 102nd season in 2021. (NFL). The league increased the regular season schedule from 16 to 17 games. The regular season will run from September 9, 2021, when the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the NFL Kickoff Game, to January 9, 2022.
The playoffs will begin the following weekend and conclude with Super Bowl LVI, the league’s championship game, on February 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
On March 17, the NFL league year and trading period for 2021 began. On March 15, teams could exercise 2021 option clauses in their contracts, make qualifying offers to pending restricted free agents, and submit a Minimum Salary Tender to keep exclusive negotiating rights to players with expiring 2020 contracts and less than three seasons of free agent credit.
The “top 51” definition (in which the 51 highest paid players on the team’s payroll must have a combined salary cap) was used to ensure that teams stayed under the salary cap. On March 17, clubs were permitted to contact and begin contract negotiations with unrestricted free agents whose contracts had expired.
The first day of free agency was March 17. Among the notable players who switched teams were:
Quarterbacks are the quarterbacks of the football team. Mitchell Trubisky, Andy Dalton (Dallas to Chicago), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Miami to Washington), and Andy Dalton (Dallas to Chicago) (Chicago to Buffalo).
Backs on the ground Matt Breida (Miami to Buffalo), Tevin Coleman (San Francisco to New York Jets), James Conner (Pittsburgh to Arizona), Kenyan Drake (Arizona to Las Vegas), Wayne Gallman (New York to San Francisco), Mark Ingram Jr. (Baltimore to Houston), Phillip Lindsay (Denver to Houston), Damien Williams (Kansas City to Chicago), and Jamaal Williams (Kansas City to Chicago) are among the players who have (Green Bay to Detroit).
Nelson Agholor (New England), John Brown (Buffalo), Corey Davis (Tennessee to New York Jets), Will Fuller (Houston to Miami), A.J. Green (Cincinnati to Arizona), Kenny Golladay (Detroit to New York Giants), Marvin Jones (Detroit to Jacksonville), Cordarrelle Patterson (Chicago to Atlanta), Curtis Samuel (Carolina to Washington), Emmanuel Sanders (New Orleans to Washington) (Kansas City to Baltimore).
Ends that are too close together Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers to New England), Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota to New York Giants), and Jonnu Smith (New Orleans to Los Angeles Chargers) (Tennessee to New England).
Linemen on the offensive line Defensive linemen Denic Cotchery (New York Jets to Carolina), Matt Feiler (Pittsburgh to Los Angeles Chargers), Ted Karras (Miami to New England), Corey Linsley (Green Bay to Los Angeles Chargers), Alex Mack (Atlanta to San Francisco), Riley Reiff (Minnesota to Cincinnati), Matt Skura (Baltimore to Miami), Joe Thuney (New England to Kansas City), and Kevin Zeitler (New York Awuzie (Dallas to Cincinnati), Bouye (Denver to Carolina), Coleman (Detroit to Miami), Darby (Washington to Denver), Fuller (Chicago to Denver), Griffin (Seattle to Jacksonville), Erik Harris (Las Vegas to Atlanta), Hill (Los Angeles Rams to Cleveland), Hilton (Pittsburgh to Cincinnati), Jackson (Tennessee to New York Giants), Jackson (Tennessee to New York Giants) (Philadelphia to Houston)
During the 2021 league year, the following notable trades occurred:
On March 17, the Detroit Lions traded quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff, a No. 101 third-round pick in 2021, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick.
Philadelphia traded quarterback Carson Wentz to Indianapolis on March 17 in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick.
Las Vegas traded C Rodney Hudson and a 2021 seventh-round pick to Arizona on March 17 in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick.
New England traded OT Marcus Cannon, as well as 2021 fifth and sixth round picks, to Houston on March 17 in exchange for 2021 fourth and sixth round picks.
March 17: New England received OT Trent Brown and a 2021 fifth-round pick in exchange for a 2021 seventh-round pick from Las Vegas.
On April 5, the New York Jets traded quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2021 and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022.
Baltimore traded OT Orlando Brown Jr., a 2021 second round pick, and a 2022 sixth round pick to Kansas City on April 23 in exchange for 2021 first, third, and fourth round picks, as well as a 2022 fifth round pick.
On April 28, Carolina traded quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to Denver in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2021.
QB Drew Brees is a 13-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro (one first team, four second teams), two-time Offensive Player of the Year (2006 and 2011), Super Bowl XLIV Champion and MVP, 2004 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and 2006 Walter Payton Man of the Year. During his 20-year NFL career, he played for the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints.
Thomas Davis (LB) is a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro (one first team, one second team), and the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year. During his 16-year NFL career, he played for Carolina, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Washington.
Julian Edelman, wide receiver, is a three-time Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, and LIII) and the MVP of Super Bowl LIII. During his 12-year career, he was a member of the New England Patriots.
G Mike Iupati is a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler (one first-team, one second-team). During his 11-year career, he played for San Francisco, Arizona, and Seattle.
Maurkice Pouncey, C Maurkice Pouncey, C Maurkice Pouncey, C Maurkice Pouncey, C Maurkice Pouncey, C Maurkice Pouncey (three first-team, two second-team). Served as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for his entire 11-year career.
C Mike Pouncey is a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. During his 10-year NFL career, he played for the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Philip Rivers is an eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback who won the 2013 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. During his 17-year NFL career, he was a member of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts.
TE Jason Witten is an 11-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro (two first-team, two second-team) and the 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year. During his 17-year career, he played for Dallas and Las Vegas.
The 2021 NFL Draft was held in Cleveland from April 29 to May 1. Jacksonville, by virtue of having the worst record in 2020, held the first overall selection and selected QB Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson.
The league hired Maia Chaka as the NFL’s first African-American female official. She follows Sarah Thomas as the second female to join the league’s officiating staff.
On April 21, 2021, the NFL Owners Meeting approved the following rule changes:
The numbering system for jerseys was changed as follows:
Numbers 1-49 and 80-89 can be worn by running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers.
Defensive backs can wear numbers ranging from 1 to 49.
Linebackers can wear numbers ranging from 1 to 59 and 90 to 99.
Offensive linemen (50-79); defensive linemen (50-79, 90-99); and quarterbacks, punters, and kickers (50-79, 90-99); and punters, punters, and kickers (50-79, 90-99); and punters, punters, and kickers (50-79, 90- (1-19).
Any player who changes his number this season must buy out the inventory of his existing jersey before the change becomes official, according to league rules. A player who wants to switch numbers for the 2022 season can do so for free.
Preseason games will no longer feature overtime. It will be the first time since 1973 that there will be no overtime in the preseason.
During consecutive extra point or two-point conversion attempts, all accepted penalties committed by either team will be enforced. This closes a loophole that was discovered during a game between Chicago and Denver in 2019.
A loss of down will now be assessed for a second forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage and a pass thrown after the ball returns behind the line. This was passed in response to a play in a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.
The receiving team can only have nine players in the “set-up zone” during kickoffs (the area between 10 and 25 yards from the kickoff spot).
Replay officials will be able to advise on “specific, objective aspects of a play when clear and obvious video evidence is present and/or to address game administration issues” as a result of the expansion of booth-to-official communication on replays.