The 2019 NFL league year and trading period began on March 13. On March 8, teams were allowed to exercise 2019 options for players with option clauses in their contracts, to submit qualifying offers to their pending restricted free agents and to submit minimum salary tenders to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2018 contracts who had fewer than three accrued seasons of free-agent credit. Teams were required to be under the salary cap using the "Top 51" definition (in which the team's 51 highest-paid players must have a combined salary cap). On March 11, clubs were allowed to contact and begin contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.
Free agency began on March 13. Notable players to change teams included:
- Quarterbacks Blake Bortles (Jacksonville to Los Angeles Rams), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tampa Bay to Miami), and Nick Foles (Philadelphia to Jacksonville).
- Running backs CJ Anderson (Los Angeles Rams to Detroit), Le'Veon Bell (Pittsburgh to New York Jets), Tevin Coleman (Atlanta to San Francisco), Frank Gore (Miami to Buffalo), Kareem Hunt (Kansas City to Cleveland), Mark Ingram Jr. (New Orleans to Baltimore), and Lesean McCoy (Buffalo to Kansas City).
- Wide receivers Danny Amendola (Miami to Detroit), Cole Beasley (Dallas to Buffalo), John Brown (Baltimore to Buffalo), Randall Cobb (Green Bay to Dallas), Cordarrelle Patterson (New England to Chicago), Andre Roberts (New York Jets to Buffalo), Golden Tate (Philadelphia to New York Giants), and Demaryius Thomas (Houston to New England).
- Tight ends Charles Clay (Buffalo to Arizona) and Jesse James (Pittsburgh to Detroit).
- Offensive linemen Trent Brown (New England to Oakland), Ja'Wuan James (Miami to Denver), Mitch Morse (Kansas City to Buffalo), and Rodger Saffold (Los Angeles Rams to Tennessee).
- Defensive linemen Trey Flowers (New England to Detroit), Malik Jackson (Jacksonville to Philadelphia), Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay to Carolina), Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota to Cleveland), Ndamukong Suh (Los Angeles Rams to Tampa Bay), and Cameron Wake (Miami to Tennessee).
- Linebackers Kwon Alexander (Tampa Bay to San Francisco), Vontaze Burfict (Cincinnati to Oakland), Thomas Davis (Carolina to Los Angeles Chargers), Jordan Hicks (Philadelphia to Arizona), Justin Houston (Kansas City to Indianapolis), Clay Matthews (Green Bay to Los Angeles Rams), CJ Mosley (Baltimore to New York Jets), Preston Smith (Washington to Green Bay), Za'Darius Smith (Baltimore to Green Bay), and Terrell Suggs (Baltimore to Arizona).
- Defensive backs Adrian Amos (Chicago to Green Bay), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Washington to Chicago), Landon Collins (New York Giants to Washington), Lamarcus Joyner (Los Angeles Rams to Oakland), Tyrann Mathieu (Houston to Kansas City), Earl Thomas (Seattle to Baltimore), and Eric Weddle (Baltimore to Los Angeles Rams).
- Kicker Jason Myers (New York Jets to Seattle).
The following notable trades were made during the 2019 league year:
- March 13: Baltimore traded QB Joe Flacco to Denver for their 2019 fourth-round selection (113th overall).
- March 13: The New York Giants traded WR Odell Beckham Jr. and DE Olivier Vernon to Cleveland for G Kevin Zeitler, SS Jabrill Peppers, their 2019 first-round selection (17th overall), and their 2019 third-round selection (95th overall)
- March 13: Philadelphia traded DE Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round selection to New England for their 2020 fifth-round selection.
- March 13: Pittsburgh traded WR Antonio Brown to Oakland for their 2019 third-round selection (66th overall) and their 2019 fifth-round selection (141st overall).
- March 13: Oakland traded G Kelechi Osemele and their 2019 sixth-round selection (196th overall) to the New York Jets for their 2019 fifth-round selection (140th overall).
- March 13: Tampa Bay traded WR DeSean Jackson and their 2020 seventh-round selection to Philadelphia for their 2019 sixth-round selection (197th overall).
- March 13: Kansas City traded OLB Dee Ford to San Francisco for their 2020 second-round selection.
- March 15: Miami traded QB Ryan Tannehill and their 2019 sixth-round selection (188th overall) to Tennessee for their 2019 seventh-round selection (233rd overall) and their 2020 fourth-round selection.
- March 28: Miami traded DE Robert Quinn to Dallas for their 2020 sixth-round selection.
- March 28: Chicago traded RB Jordan Howard to Philadelphia for their 2020 sixth-round selection.
- April 1: Cleveland traded DE Emmanuel Ogbah to Kansas City for SS Eric Murray.
- April 23: Seattle traded DE Frank Clark and their 2019 third-round selection (92nd overall) to Kansas City for their 2019 first-round selection (29th overall), their 2019 third-round selection (84th overall), and a 2020 second-round selection.
- April 26: Arizona traded QB Josh Rosen and a 2020 fifth-round selection to Miami for their 2019 second-round selection (62nd overall).
- August 8: Cleveland traded RB Duke Johnson to Houston for a 2020 third round pick.
- August 9: Buffalo traded DE Eli Harold to Philadelphia for OL Ryan Bates.
- August 22: Arizona traded S Rudy Ford to Philadelphia for DT Bruce Hector.
- August 28: New England traded a 2020 fourth-round pick to Baltimore for a 2020 sixth-round pick and G Jermaine Eluemunor.
- August 31: Miami traded OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills to Houston for S Johnson Bademosi, OT Julién Davenport, for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick and second-round pick.
- August 31: Houston traded OT Martinas Rankin to Kansas City for RB Carlos Hyde.
- September 1: Houston traded DE Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle for a 2020 third round pick, DE Jacob Martin, and DE Barkevious Mingo.
- September 2: Miami traded LB Kiko Alonso to New Orleans for LB Vince Biegel.
- September 10: New England traded WR Demaryius Thomas to the New York Jets for a 2021 sixth-round selection.
- September 16: Miami traded S Minkah Fitzpatrick and a 2020 fifth round pick and 2021 sixth round pick to Pittsburgh in exchange for their 2020 first and fifth round picks, and their 2021 sixth-round pick.
- September 30: Philadelphia traded S Jonathan Cyprien and a 2020 seventh-round pick to Atlanta for LB Duke Riley and a 2020 sixth-round pick.
- October 7: Buffalo traded WR Zay Jones to Oakland to for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
- October 15: The Los Angeles Rams traded CB Marcus Peters to Baltimore for LB Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick.
- October 15: The Los Angeles Rams traded a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for CB Jalen Ramsey.
- October 21: Oakland traded CB Gareon Conley to Houston for a 2020 third-round pick.
- October 22: New England traded a 2020 second-round pick to Atlanta for WR Mohamed Sanu.
- October 22: Denver traded WR Emmanuel Sanders and a 2020 fifth-round pick to San Francisco for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick.
- October 24: New England traded DE Michael Bennett to Dallas for a 2021 seventh-round pick that may turn into a sixth-round pick.
- October 28: The New York Jets traded DL Leonard Williams to the New York Giants for a 2020 third-round pick and a condition 2021 fifth-round pick.
- October 28: Cleveland traded DE Genard Avery to Philadelphia for 2021 fourth-round pick.
- October 29: The Los Angeles Rams traded CB Aqib Talib and a 2020 fifth-round pick to Miami for a 2022 seventh-round pick.
- LB NaVorro Bowman - Three-time Pro Bowl and four-time 1st-Team All-Pro. Played for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders in an eight-year career.
- RB Jamaal Charles - Four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro (two first team, one second team). Played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars in an 11-year career.
- LB Derrick Johnson - Four-time Pro Bowl Selection and two-time All Pro (one first team, one second team). Played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in a 14-year career.
- TE Rob Gronkowski - Five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion. Played for the New England Patriots for his entire nine-year career. Later came out of retirement in 2020 and was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- P Shane Lechler - Seven-time Pro Bowler and nine-time All-Pro (six first team, three second team). Played for the Raiders and Texans during his 18-year career.
- QB Andrew Luck - Four-time Pro Bowler, first overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. Played his entire seven-year career with the Indianapolis Colts.
- DT Haloti Ngata - Five-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro (two first team, three second team) and Super Bowl XLVII champion. Played nine of his 13 years with the Ravens, with shorter stints with the Lions and Eagles.
- LB Brian Orakpo - Four-time Pro Bowler. Played for the Redskins and Titans over a ten-year career.
- DE Julius Peppers - Nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro (three first team, three second team). Played for the Panthers, Bears and Packers during his 17-year career.
- G Josh Sitton - Four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro (one first team, two second team) and Super Bowl XLV champion. Played for the Packers, Bears and Dolphins during his 11-year career.
- DT Kyle Williams - Six-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro. Played for the Buffalo Bills for his entire 13-year career.
The 2019 NFL Draft was held from April 25–27 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Arizona Cardinals selected Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall selection.
- Walt Coleman III retired: With 30 seasons as an NFL official, Coleman was the longest-tenured. Former NFL Europe referee Adrian Hill, a longtime official in various positions, replaced Coleman.
- Pete Morelli: Morelli retired after having spent 22 seasons as an NFL official. Scott Novak, one of the Big 12 Conference's most decorated referees, succeeded Morelli.
- John Parry retired after being the referee in Super Bowl LIII to join the Monday Night Football booth as a rules analyst. He had spent 19 seasons as an official and 12 as a head referee. Brad Rogers, a field judge for the past two seasons who was previously a referee in Conference USA and the Southeastern Conference, succeeded Parry. Combined with the 2018 offseason retirements of Ed Hochuli, Terry McAulay, Gene Steratore and Jeff Triplette, the league was forced to replace seven of its 17 referee positions within a two-year period. In July 2019, the NFL announced that all of the league's officials would return to part-time status. For the previous two seasons, under a pilot program, a small number of NFL officials were classified as full-time employees of the NFL.
The following rule changes were approved for the 2019 season at the NFL owners' meeting on March 26:
- Make permanent the experimental kickoff rules from the 2018 season.
- Abolish all blindside blocks anywhere on the field (personal foul, 15 yards).
- As a one-year experiment, make the following plays reviewable, subject to coaches' challenges outside of the final 2:00 of each half, and subject to booth review after the two-minute warning of each half or entire overtime:
- Pass interference, whether called or not (modified in June 2019)
- Scoring plays and turnovers negated by penalties.
- Any extra point or two-point conversion attempt.
- Change how double fouls are enforced after a change in possession; the last team to possess retains the ball at the spot of enforcement. If the enforcement spot is after a touchback, the ball is placed at the 20-yard line (after punt or turnover) or 25-yard line (free kick). If the spot of enforcement is in the end zone, the ball is placed at the 1-yard line.
- Make scrimmage kick rules apply if a missed field goal is touched in the end zone before hitting the ground, and if the ball is touched by either team behind the line of scrimmage.
- Allow teams to enforce a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty committed during a touchdown on either the try or on the ensuing kickoff. Previously, these fouls were required to be enforced on the ensuing kickoff.
- Individuals not in uniform who enter the field to celebrate a play will draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (15 yards, and automatic first down if on the defensive team).
- Players who make any flagrant "football" play risk immediate disqualification. Previously, this was limited to players who make a flagrant "non-football" play.
An additional rule change was built upon a rule originally passed in 2018. The NFL limited helmets to a list of 34 league-approved models, up from the 23 originally approved in 2018. The grandfather clause allowing existing players to wear their previous non-approved helmets expired, and 32 players were required to change helmets. In May 2019, the NFL banned Oklahoma drills, "bull in the ring," and other high-contact drills from team practices. In June 2019, the league clarified the March 2019 temporary rule change regarding reviews of pass interference plays as follows:
- The initial rule passed in March 2019 regarding review of pass interference stays.
- A ruling will only be changed if there is clear and obvious evidence that pass interference did or did not occur (as is the standard for any other replay review).
- All pass plays are subject to review for pass interference, including the "Hail Mary" play.
Midway through the season, another rule was introduced without explicit approval from the competition committee:
- Drop kicks may no longer be used on kickoffs. This ruling came after the use of a drop kick in by the Baltimore Ravens against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens received clearance to use the drop kick, but after the game, the league office claimed that the maneuver was illegal, without specifying what was illegal about it other than claiming that it had not been kicked immediately after hitting the ground (recorded video of the kick proved that it had indeed been kicked immediately after hitting the ground). The game officials allowed the kick to stand unpenalized during the game. This rule change also came after the Seattle Seahawks attempted several drop-kick kickoffs in 2018.
- Pat Bowlen
- Bowlen owned the Denver Broncos since 1984. His Broncos won three Super Bowls during his tenure (XXXII, XXXIII and 50). He was inducted in 2019 but died from complications of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 75 on June 13, before the induction ceremonies. Under the terms of a succession plan, the team will be operated by a trust headed by longtime executive Joe Ellis until it can be determined which of Bowlen's five surviving children will inherit the team.
- Willie Brown
- Brown spent his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos (1963–1966) and his last twelve with Oakland Raiders (1967–1978), winning Super Bowl XI with the Raiders. Brown was also a nine-time Pro Bowler and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984. He died on October 22 at the age of 78.
- Nick Buoniconti
- Buoniconti, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, was an eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played seven seasons with the Boston Patriots from 1962–1968 and seven more with the Miami Dolphins from 1969–1974 and 1976. He won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins in 1972 and 1973. Buoniconti died on July 30 at the age of 78.
- Forrest Gregg
- Gregg, a guard, spent all but the final season of his playing career with the Green Bay Packers, a member of the Packers' 1960s dynasty. In his final year, he helped the Dallas Cowboys team win Super Bowl VI. Gregg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility. He also had a less illustrious coaching career in the NFL, college football and the Canadian Football League in the late 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s, most successfully leading the 1981 Cincinnati Bengals to an AFC championship and a loss in Super Bowl XVI to the San Francisco 49ers. Gregg died on April 12 at the age of 85.
- Jim Langer
- Langer, who played center for 11 NFL seasons, nine with the Miami Dolphins alongside Buoniconti (with the team earning its perfect season during his rookie year) and two with the Minnesota Vikings, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. He died on August 29 at the age of 71.
- Gino Marchetti
- Marchetti was a defensive end who played 14 seasons in the NFL, 13 with the Baltimore Colts. Marchetti won two NFL championships, was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and made earned first-team All-Pro designations with the Colts. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. Marchetti died on April 29 at the age of 93.
- Bart Starr
- Starr played quarterback for the Green Bay Packers during his entire 16-year career (1956-1971) and was the team's undisputed starter for the last 12 of those seasons. He was the Packers' starting quarterback for all five of the NFL championships the team won in the 1960s and was the Most Valuable Player of the first two World Championship Games. He also had a nine-season run as the Packers' head coach from 1975–1983, but only two of the nine were winning seasons (one of those, 1982, was shortened by a strike, and was also Starr's only playoff appearance as a coach). Starr was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. He died on May 26 at the age of 85.
- Bill Bidwill
- Bidwill was the owner of the Arizona Cardinals since the 1960s. He died on October 2 at the age of 88. The Bidwill family has been associated with the Cardinals since Bidwill's father Charles bought the team in 1933. His son Michael is expected to succeed his father as team owner.
- Barron Hilton
- Hilton was the original owner of the Los Angeles Chargers from 1960–1966. He was the last living member of the original Foolish Club, the group of owners who established the American Football League (Hilton divested in 1966; second- and third-generation heirs of two members, Kenneth S. Adams, Jr. (daughters and grandsons) and Lamar Hunt (son), continue to operate their clubs).
Training camps for the 2019 season were held in late July through August. Teams started training camp no earlier than 15 days before their first scheduled preseason game. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, in which the Denver Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons 14–10, was played on August 1, televised nationally by NBC and held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the league was founded 99 years prior. The Broncos were represented in the 2019 Hall of Fame class by owner Pat Bowlen (posthumously) and former cornerback Champ Bailey, while the Falcons were represented by former tight end Tony Gonzalez.
On August 17, the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams played a preseason game at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, the former home of the Pro Bowl.
On August 22, the Oakland Raiders beat the Green Bay Packers 22–21 at IG Field in Winnipeg, home of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers; it was the first NFL game on Canadian soil since the end of the Bills Toronto Series in 2013. Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan was another potential site for the game, and the teams had secured the cooperation of the city and local sports promoter On Ice Management, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders vetoed the proposal, as the Roughriders feared they would be unable to reconfigure the field from NFL to CFL standards in time for their August 24 home game (the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were away that weekend and thus did not have a scheduling conflict). Because of safety concerns caused by the reconfiguration of the goalposts, the NFL, at the last minute, shortened the playing field to only 80 yards long (the first such known NFL usage of a field that short since 1932) and eliminated kickoffs, starting all possessions on the 15-yard line. Thirty-three Packers players refused to play on the surface, including starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
NFL centennial promotions
On October 18, 2018, the NFL announced that it would commemorate its 100th season throughout 2019, beginning with Super Bowl LIII in February 2019. An NFL 100 emblem was featured in promotions across all NFL properties during the season, worn on jerseys as a patch, placed on game balls, and painted on fields.
The Chicago Bears (who, as the Decatur Staleys, were one of the 14 charter members of the league) celebrated their centennial season with commemorative events throughout 2019. On November 15, 2018, the team unveiled a customized version of the league-wide centennial emblem (which was worn on jerseys in place of the NFL-branded version). The team also unveiled a throwback jersey based on its 1936 design, which it donned for two games.
The NFL aired a special two-minute commercial during Super Bowl LIII to launch the centennial campaign, which featured a gala dinner attended by 40 current and former NFL players, including Rams RB Todd Gurley, then-Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr., Patriots QB Tom Brady, former Broncos and Colts QB Peyton Manning, Hall of Fame WRs Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin and Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (who delivered the welcome address), NFL officials Ron Torbert and Sarah Thomas, viral teenage girl football star Samantha Gordon, and video game streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. The commercial won the annual Super Bowl Ad Meter survey held by USA Today, marking the first time that the NFL itself won.
In honor of the site of the first NFL game, the league announced plans to donate a new artificial turf field to Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio, home field of the former Dayton Triangles, intending for the Cincinnati Bengals to hold a day of training camp at the site. However, the project was rejected by the city after concerns that construction could potentially disturb a Native American burial site. The NFL instead donated the turf to nearby Kettering Field. The Bengals still held a training camp day in Dayton, doing so at Welcome Stadium instead.
The NFL intentionally scheduled a weekly game to honor landmark moments in NFL history:
The 2019 regular season's 256 games were played over a 17-week schedule that began on September 5, 2019. Each of the league's 32 teams played a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. There were games on Monday nights and on Thursdays, including the National Football League Kickoff game and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season concluded with a full slate of 16 games on December 29, all of which were intra-division matchups, as it had been since 2010.
- Scheduling formula
Under the NFL's current scheduling formula, each team played the other three teams in its own division twice. In addition, teams played against all four teams in one other division from each conference. The final two games on a team's schedule were against the two remaining teams in the same conference that had finished in the same position in their respective divisions in 2018 (e.g., the team that finished fourth in its division played all three other teams in the conference that also finished fourth). The division parings for 2019 were as follows:
The entire schedule was released on April 17, 2019.
Highlights of the 2019 season included:
- NFL Kickoff Game: The Kickoff Game was played September 5. The Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers in honor of the Bears' and the NFL's centennial season, a game announced on March 25 ahead of the rest of the schedule. The Packers won the game, 10–3. The move broke with league tradition that gives the defending Super Bowl champion the hosting rights to the first game of the season; the New England Patriots instead hosted the first Sunday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which the Patriots won 33–3.
- NFL International Series: Five games were held outside the United States in 2019. In addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the three teams who hosted an annual game abroad as part of their relocation agreements (the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, and Oakland Raiders), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also hosted a home game abroad in 2019 as part of their agreement to host Super Bowl LV in 2021.
- Thanksgiving Day: As has been the case since 2006, three games were played on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, including the traditional afternoon doubleheader hosted by the Detroit Lions (defeated by the Chicago Bears for the second year in a row) and the Dallas Cowboys (defeated by the Buffalo Bills). The Atlanta Falcons hosted, and were defeated by, the New Orleans Saints in the night game; the two teams had played on Thanksgiving night in 2018 as well.
Saturday flexible scheduling
When the entire season schedule was released on April 17, the league announced Saturday games to be played in Week 16. On November 12, the NFL announced that three games would be moved from Sunday, December 22 to Saturday, December 21: Texans–Buccaneers at 1:00 p.m. ET, Bills–Patriots at 4:30 p.m. ET, and Rams–49ers at 8:15 p.m. ET, all on the NFL Network. The two other games that the NFL had the option of moving (Lions–Broncos and Raiders–Chargers) remained on Sunday, December 22.
In-season scheduling changes
- Week 8: The Raiders–Texans game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET, trading time slots with the Broncos–Colts game; both games remained on CBS.
- Week 10: The Panthers–Packers game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET; game remained on Fox.
- Week 11: The Jets–Redskins game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox; game remained at 1:00 p.m. ET.
- Week 12: The Packers–49ers game, originally at 4:25 p.m ET on Fox, was flexed into the NBC Sunday Night Football 8:20 p.m. ET timeslot, replacing the originally scheduled Seahawks–Eagles game, which was moved to 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox. In addition, the Panthers–Saints game was cross-flexed from Fox to CBS while the Dolphins–Browns game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox; kickoff times for both games remained at 1:00 p.m. ET.
- Week 13: The Raiders–Chiefs game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET, trading time slots with the Browns–Steelers game; both games remained on CBS.
- Week 15: The Bills–Steelers game, originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m ET on CBS, was flexed into the NBC Sunday Night Football 8:20 p.m. ET timeslot, replacing the originally scheduled Vikings–Chargers game, which was moved to 4:05 p.m. on CBS.
- Week 17: The 49ers–Seahawks game that was originally scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox was selected as the final 8:20 p.m. ET NBC Sunday Night Football game of the season, which decided the NFC West champion. In addition, the following games with playoff implications were rescheduled from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET (with networks in parenthesis): Titans–Texans (CBS); Steelers–Ravens (CBS); Colts–Jaguars (CBS); Redskins–Cowboys (Fox); Eagles–Giants (Fox). The Browns–Bengals game was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox, but remained at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Regular season standings
||Kansas City Chiefs
||New England Patriots
|Did not qualify for the playoffs
||New York Jets
||Los Angeles Chargers
- ^ a b Kansas City finished ahead of New England based on head-to-head victory.
- ^ a b c Denver finished ahead of Indianapolis and NY Jets based on conference record. Division tiebreak was initially used to eliminate Oakland (see below).
- ^ a b Denver finished ahead of Oakland based on conference record.
- ^ a b c Oakland and Indianapolis finished ahead of NY Jets based on conference record.
- ^ a b Oakland finished ahead of Indianapolis based on head-to-head victory.
- ^ a b Jacksonville finished ahead of Cleveland based on record against common opponents. Jacksonville's cumulative record against Cincinnati, Denver, NY Jets, and Tennessee was 4–1, compared to Cleveland's 2–3 cumulative record against the same four teams.
- ^ a b LA Chargers finished ahead of Miami based on head-to-head victory.
- ^ When breaking ties for three or more teams under the NFL's rules, they are first broken within divisions, then comparing only the highest ranked remaining team from each division.
The 2019 playoffs began on January 4–5, 2020 with the Wild Card Round. The four winners of these games visited the top two seeds in each conference in the Divisional Round games on January 11–12. The winners of those games advanced to the Conference Championships on January 19. The 2020 Pro Bowl was played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on January 26. Super Bowl LIV, was played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on February 2.
The start times for the Divisional Round games on Sunday, January 12, were moved to 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET (as is already the case with the conference championship games), rather than the typical 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. windows used for this round in previous seasons.
* Indicates overtime victory
Andrew Luck's retirement
News of Indianapolis Colts quarterback and 2012 first overall pick Andrew Luck retiring broke out during the Colts' third preseason game. His retirement quickly became one of the most surprising revelations of the year. During his post-game press conference, Luck stated that his retirement was due to the recent mental and physical difficulties of playing football. Luck had won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2018.
Antonio Brown controversies
Wide receiver Antonio Brown was involved in several controversies throughout the off-season, preseason, and regular season. Brown was held out by his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers during week 17 of 2018 due to a heated fall out with QB Ben Roethlisberger. He was subsequently traded to the Oakland Raiders in March 2019. However, Brown's helmet model had been banned by the NFL due to inadequate protection, prompting Brown to hold out of practices and file two grievances against the NFL, both of which were denied. Brown then accepted the new helmet model and returned to practice, but later wore inadequate footwear in a cryogenic chamber and got frostbite on his feet, causing additional concern for his availability in Week 1. Brown next released recorded audio of Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and requested that the Raiders release him. He was subsequently released and signed with the New England Patriots. On September 10, allegations that Brown had raped his former trainer, Britney Taylor, caused speculation that he might be put on the commissioner's exempt list, barring him from playing. However, the NFL did not do so and Brown played in the Patriots' Week 2 game. On September 16, a second woman accused Brown of sexual misconduct. That same day, Pittsburgh-based Dr. Victor Prisk, who worked with Brown during his time with the Steelers, sued Brown for $11,500 in unpaid fees. The Patriots cut Brown on September 20 after he allegedly sent intimidating text messages to his second accuser.
In the final seconds of a November 14 Thursday Night Football matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, Browns DE Myles Garrett tackled Steelers QB Mason Rudolph after Rudolph completed a screen pass to RB Trey Edmunds. Upset by the late tackle, Rudolph attacked Garrett by attempting to pull off Garrett's helmet. Garrett then ripped off Rudolph's helmet and used it to hit Rudolph in the head while being restrained by Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey and Steelers G David DeCastro. Pouncey and Browns DT Larry Ogunjobi then joined in on the fight. Garrett, Ogunjobi, and Pouncey were all ejected from the game. Following the game, Garrett was suspended for the remainder of 2019 and required to apply for reinstatement in 2020, while Pouncey and Ogunjobi received 2-game and 1-game suspensions, respectively. Garrett was reinstated in February 2020, ending his suspension after six games. The six-game suspension was the longest in NFL history for a single on-field transgression.
Patriots videotaping controversy
During the December 8 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, the New England Patriots were alleged to have spied on the Bengals' sideline. The Patriots, who were scheduled to play the Bengals the following week, sent a video team to Cleveland to film a documentary of an advance scout, part of the "Do Your Job" series on the Patriots' website. This video contractor was given media credentials by the Browns, but the Bengals and NFL were not made aware of the presence of the Patriots' video crew. According to ESPN's Dianna Russini, a Bengals staffer spotted the Patriots' cameraman and proceeded to observe what he was doing. Allegedly, the cameraman proceeded to point his camera at the Bengals coaching staff and sideline for most of the quarter. The Bengals employee reported him to media relations, who reported him to security; security then seized the film and leaked it to Jay Glazer, who made the footage public. The NFL has launched an investigation into these allegations. This was the second time the current Patriots administration was involved in an unauthorized videotaping scandal, following the Spygate controversy in 2007.
Records, milestones, and notable statistics
- The Baltimore Ravens scored 42 points in the first half, setting an NFL record for most points in the first half of a season opener.
- Adrian Peterson passed Jim Brown for fifth place on the all-time rushing touchdowns list.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster became the youngest player in NFL history to record 2,500 career receiving yards, at the age of 22 years, 297 days, a record previously held by Randy Moss, who was 22 years, 310 days old.
- Frank Gore became the fourth player in NFL history to rush for 15,000 yards.
- Larry Fitzgerald caught his 1,326th reception, moving into second place all-time, behind Jerry Rice.
- Von Miller recorded his 100th career sack, becoming the fourth-fastest player to do so (124 games).
- Julio Jones became the fastest player to reach 11,000 career receiving yards, doing so in 115 games.
- Matthew Stafford became the fastest player to throw for 40,000 yards, doing so in 147 games. The record was previously held by Matt Ryan, who reached 40,000 yards in 151 games.
- Aaron Rodgers became the fastest player to throw for 350 touchdowns, doing so in 172 games. The record was previously held by Drew Brees, who reached 350 touchdowns in 180 games.
- Brett Maher became the first kicker in NFL history to kick three field goals of at least 60 yards in his career.
- Marvin Jones became the first player in NFL history to score four receiving touchdowns in a game in which he did not have at least 100 receiving yards; he caught 10 passes for 93 yards and the four touchdowns.
- Bill Belichick became the third head coach in NFL history to win 300 games (regular season and postseason), joining George Halas and Don Shula.
- Drew Brees became the first quarterback to pass for 75,000 yards.
- Andy Dalton started the season with an 0–8 record. Having previously started the 2015 season 8–0, Dalton became the first quarterback to start seasons 8–0 and 0–8 since the NFL officially kept quarterbacks' win-loss records in 1950.
- Frank Gore passed Barry Sanders for third place on the all-time rushing yards list. He also moved to third on the all-time rushing attempts list.
- Matt Ryan became the tenth quarterback to throw for over 50,000 career passing yards.
- Lamar Jackson became the second quarterback to run for 1,000 yards in a season, joining Michael Vick in 2006.
- Drew Lock became the first rookie quarterback to achieve at least 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns in his first road start.
- Lamar Jackson passed Michael Vick's single season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,039.
- Drew Brees recorded his 540th career touchdown pass, setting an NFL record. The previous record was held by Peyton Manning, who had 539.
- Brees also set the record for highest completion percentage in a game (minimum 20 attempts) at 96.7% (29 of 30). The previous record was held by Philip Rivers, who completed 96.6% of his passes in a 2018 game.
- Julio Jones set the record for most career receiving yards through a players first nine seasons, with 11,881. The previous record was held by Torry Holt, who had 11,864 receiving yards in his first nine seasons.
- Ryan Tannehill became the second quarterback to win consecutive playoff starts in which he threw for fewer than 100 passing yards and at least one touchdown, joining Terry Bradshaw, who did so in 1974.
- Derrick Henry became the first player in NFL history to have two games of 180 rushing yards in the same postseason.
- The Tennessee Titans became the second team to win a postseason game, despite being outgained by at least 200 yards, joining the 2009 New Orleans Saints.
- Lamar Jackson became the first player to have 300 passing yards and 140 rushing yards in any game, regular season or postseason.
- Raheem Mostert became the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.
- Mostert became the first player to rush for 150 yards and three touchdowns in a single half of a playoff game, doing so in the first half.
- Mostert's 248 rushing yards set the record for most rushing yards in a conference championship game. The previous record was held by Keith Lincoln, who had 206.
Regular-season statistical leaders
||Harrison Butker, Kansas City (147)
|Most Field Goals Made
||Harrison Butker, Kansas City (34)
||Aaron Jones, Green Bay and Christian McCaffrey, Carolina (19)
||Derrick Henry, Tennessee (1,540)
||Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (5,109)
||Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (36)
||Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (117.5)
||Michael Thomas, New Orleans (149)
|Pass receiving yards
||Michael Thomas, New Orleans (1,725)
||Bobby Wagner, Seattle (159 tackles)
||Anthony Harris, Minnesota, Tre'Davious White, Buffalo and Stephon Gilmore, New England (6)
||Lac Edwards, New York Jets (3,991 yards, 45.9 average yards)
||Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay (19.5)
Individual season awards
The 9th Annual NFL Honors, saluting the best players and plays from 2019 season, was held on February 1, 2020 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida.
The following players were named First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press:
||Lamar Jackson, Baltimore
||Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
||Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
||Michael Thomas, New Orleans|
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
||George Kittle, San Francisco
||Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore
||Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis
||Jason Kelce, Philadelphia
||Zack Martin, Dallas
||Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans
||Chandler Jones, Arizona|
T. J. Watt, Pittsburgh
||Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams|
Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh
||Bobby Wagner, Seattle|
Demario Davis, New Orleans
Eric Kendricks, Minnesota
||Stephon Gilmore, New England|
Tre'Davious White, Buffalo
||Jamal Adams, New York Jets|
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh
Players of the week/month
The following were named the top performers during the 2019 season:
Head coaching and front office personnel changes
||Reason for leaving
||Wilks was fired on December 31, 2018, after one season in which he accrued a record of 3–13 (.188).
Kingsbury, who had spent most of the previous six seasons as head coach of Texas Tech, was hired on January 8, 2019.
||Lewis and the Bengals mutually agreed to part ways on December 31 after a 6–10 (.375) season. In 16 years as the Bengals' head coach, Lewis was 131–122–3 (.518), with 7 playoff appearances. The Bengals never won a playoff game under Lewis and had missed the playoffs in each of his last three seasons.
Taylor was named as head coach on February 5, 2019. This is his first experience as head coach after serving as the Los Angeles Rams' quarterbacks coach. At 35 years old, he became the 2nd youngest active coach in the NFL, after Sean McVay, who coaches Taylor's former team, the Rams.
||Jackson was fired on October 29, 2018, accumulating a 3–36–1 (.088) record during his 2½-season tenure with the Browns. Jackson failed to win any away games during his tenure and lost every game in 2017. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who previously served as Buffalo Bills head coach from 2001 to 2003, finished out the 2018 season with a 5–3 (.625) record.
Kitchens was promoted to head coach on January 12, 2019, after serving as the interim offensive coordinator following Jackson's firing. This is his first head coaching position.
||Joseph was fired on December 31, 2018, after a 6–10 (.375) season. The Broncos were 11–21 (.344) in Joseph's two losing seasons as head coach, with no playoff appearances.
Fangio, a first-time head coach with over 30 years experience as an assistant dating back to the USFL, most recently as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, was hired on January 10, 2019.
|Green Bay Packers
||McCarthy was fired on December 2, 2018. McCarthy left with a record of 135–85–2 (.613) with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl championship. Philbin, the team's offensive coordinator, finished the season as interim coach with a record of 2–2 (.500).
LaFleur was hired on January 8, 2019. Previously the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, this is his first head coaching position.
||Gase was fired on December 31, 2018, after a 7–9 (.438) season. The Dolphins were 23–25 (.479) in Gase's three years as head coach, with one playoff appearance in 2016.
Flores, formerly the New England Patriots' long time assistant, recently as linebackers coach, was announced as head coach on February 5, 2019. After being with the Patriots organization since their 2004 Super Bowl-winning season, this is his first head coaching position.
|New York Jets
||Bowles was fired on December 30, 2018, finishing the season with a record of 4–12 (.250) and a cumulative record of 24–40 (.375) with no playoff appearances in four seasons with Jets.
Gase, who was previously the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, posting a 23–25 (.479) record in three seasons, was hired on January 11, 2019.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers
||Koetter was fired on December 30, 2018, after a 5–11 (.313) season. The Buccaneers were 19–29 (.396) in Koetter's three years as head coach, with no playoff appearances. Previously, Koetter was Buccaneers' offensive coordinator for one season in 2015.
Arians was announced as the Buccaneers' new head coach on January 8, 2019. He was previously the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons with 50–32–1 (.608) record from 2013 to 2017, leading them to an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2015.
||Reason for leaving
||After an 0–5 start, Gruden was fired on October 7. He had a 35–49–1 (.418) record for his 5+ season tenure with the Redskins, with one playoff appearance in 2015.
Callahan, the team's assistant head coach/offensive line coach, was previously the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003, with a record of 15–17 (.469) and one Super Bowl appearance.
||Rivera was fired on December 3, after going 5–7–0 (.417) in the first 13 weeks of the season. In 8+ seasons as the Panthers head coach, they were 76–63–1 (.546), with playoff appearances including 3 NFC South division titles and 1 Super Bowl appearance, going 3–4–0 (.429) in the playoffs.
Fewell, the defensive backs coach, took over on an interim basis until the end of the season. A longtime defensive assistant in the NFL, his only head coaching experience was as the Buffalo Bills interim head coach for the last 7 games of the 2009 season. The Bills went 3–4–0 (.429) in those 7 games.
Front office personnel
||Departing office holder
||Incoming office holder
||Reason for leaving
||The Ravens announced on February 2, 2018 that Newsome would retire after 16 years as the team's GM and that Eric DeCosta, most recently the Ravens' assistant GM, would succeed Newsome. Newsome was the first African-American to occupy the GM position in the NFL.
||McKenzie was fired on December 10, 2018, after six-plus seasons as Raiders' GM. Herock, team's director of college scouting, served as the Raiders’ interim GM until the team settled on a full-time replacement.
Mayock had previously been a television commentator for the past 26 seasons and has never held a front office position.
|New York Jets
||Maccagnan was fired on May 15, 2019 after four seasons; vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger was also dismissed. Head coach Adam Gase was named interim GM. Douglas was named the new GM on June 7, 2019.
||Gaine was unexpectedly fired on June 7, 2019 after only one season and returned to his previous position with the Buffalo Bills. The Texans have not replaced Gaine; instead, the team has divided the general manager role among several of the team's executives.
Rams' and Chargers' new stadium
This was the third and final season for the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park and this is the fourth and final season for the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Both teams will move to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California in 2020.
Bills' potential for relocation
A buyout window in the Buffalo Bills' lease on New Era Field opens after the 2019 season. The window allows the team to cancel its lease on the stadium for a $28 million fee and relocate. If the Bills choose not to exercise the buyout window, they will not be allowed to relocate until after the 2022 season, when the current lease expires.
Broncos' naming rights
On September 4, the Denver Broncos' home field was rebranded as Empower Field at Mile High. The Broncos had been seeking a long-term naming rights partner for their home field since sporting goods retailer Sports Authority went bankrupt in 2016. Empower Retirement, a retirement plan provider that is based in Denver, had served as a team sponsor since 2015, with the Broncos agreeing to terms on a 21-year deal that will run through 2039, though financial terms were not disclosed. This marks the third naming rights change for the Broncos' home field, following "Invesco Field at Mile High" (2001–2010), "Sports Authority Field at Mile High" (2011–2017) and "Broncos Stadium at Mile High" — the latter of which was used on a temporary basis for 2018.
This was the final season for the Oakland Raiders at RingCentral Coliseum (renamed from the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in May 2019) before moving to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders' lease on the Coliseum expired after the 2018 season. The team is slated to move to Las Vegas, Nevada once Allegiant Stadium is completed; it is currently scheduled to open in 2020. The Coliseum management expressed a reluctance to allow the Raiders to continue using the Coliseum after the lease expires unless the team paid more to cover the losses the Coliseum incurred by hosting Raiders games. In December 2018, the city of Oakland filed a lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL seeking financial damages and unpaid debt, claiming the proposed relocation is illegal but not asking for an injunction forcing the team to stay. The Raiders have stated that if any legal action were filed against them, that they would not renew with the Coliseum and find another, undetermined, temporary home for 2019 until Allegiant Stadium is finished. The Raiders then attempted to negotiate a lease with Oracle Park in San Francisco before the San Francisco 49ers vetoed the plan as an infringement on their territorial rights. With the 49ers refusing to waive territorial rights, the Raiders were forced to either renegotiate with the Coliseum or find a temporary stadium outside the San Francisco Bay Area (something that the Raiders management was reluctant to do, though the team acknowledged and considered bids from San Antonio, Texas and Tucson, Arizona). The Raiders, despite reservations about providing funds to the lawsuit being filed against them, negotiated a return to the Coliseum for 2019; a tentative agreement, pending Coliseum and league approval, was announced February 25. The lease agreement was approved by the Oakland Coliseum Authority, the Oakland city council, and Alameda County supervisors by March 21. The Coliseum was the last multi-purpose stadium to be the home of both an NFL and Major League Baseball team (the Oakland Athletics). Barring any future relocations, the Raiders' September 15 game against the Kansas City Chiefs stands as the last NFL game played on a dirt infield.
- Carolina Panthers: The Panthers switched to Nike's newest uniform template and updated their pants, removing the team logo from it and streamlining the piping stripe.
- Cleveland Browns: On September 4, the Browns announced that they would switch to their former Color Rush uniforms as their primary home set this season, and wore these uniforms for six home games.
- Houston Texans: On April 22, the Texans announced that they would add their primary logo on the back of their jerseys, their first uniform update in franchise history. The addition of the logo on the jersey's back makes them the third team in the NFL to do so, after the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.
- Los Angeles Chargers: On April 16, the Chargers announced that they made their powder blue alternate jerseys the new primary uniforms. In addition to this announcement, they also swapped out their navy blue facemask for gold.
- New York Jets: On April 4, the Jets unveiled new uniforms, which introduced black as an accent color and resembled a modernized version of the uniform layout the Jets used from 1978 to 1997, including a return to green helmets and "TV numbers" on the shoulders.
- Chicago Bears: To celebrate their 100th season, the Bears wore throwback jerseys based on their 1936 uniforms for two home games.
This was the sixth year 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 airs Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff Game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN airs Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl with the latter being simulcast on ABC. Fox airs Thursday Night Football along with NFL Network, with Amazon Video and Twitch continuing to simulcast those games online in the second and final year of the two sites' current contract. Fox will also broadcast Super Bowl LIV. ESPN aired coverage for all three days of the 2019 NFL Draft on ABC, replacing Fox's broadcast television simulcast of NFL Network in 2018. ABC's coverage catered towards a mainstream audience and was hosted by the panel of ESPN's College GameDay, while ESPN and NFL Network continued to carry more conventional coverage of the draft.
Under a one-year test, local stations in markets with NFL teams are allowed on a limited basis to air another NFL game opposite the game involving that city's home team, something that had previously been forbidden (this rule had already been waived for the Washington, D.C. market when the Baltimore Ravens are playing at the same time as the Washington Redskins on the opposite network – Washington, D.C. is a secondary market for the Ravens, for the Los Angeles market after the Rams' and Chargers' moves to LA and league-wide for Week 17 since 2014). It was originally reported that all media markets in the U.S. who have CBS and Fox affiliates will have access to three Sunday afternoon games every week regardless of whether the local team is playing at home. The league later clarified that teams will still be able to impose the home exclusivity blackout on a limited basis, so long as they lift the exclusivity at least twice.
The league has an option to cancel its contract with DirecTV after the 2019 season. DirecTV has had exclusive rights to the league's out-of-market sports package, NFL Sunday Ticket, since the package was introduced in 1994.
On February 28, 2019, Jason Witten announced he would be leaving his color commentator position on Monday Night Football after one season; he returned to the Dallas Cowboys, where he had played tight end for fifteen seasons before joining ESPN in 2018. Witten was not replaced; Booger McFarland, who spent the previous season commentating from atop a crane-like contraption on the sideline, was moved into the booth. Former referee Jeff Triplette also left Monday Night Football as rules analyst. He was replaced with John Parry, who retired the same day his ESPN position was announced; Parry is the third rules analyst ESPN has hired in two years, following Triplette and Gerald Austin. Steve Tasker departed CBS after 21 seasons with the network, all but one as a color commentator, after CBS declined to renew Tasker's contract. Tasker anticipates moving to radio and calling games for Westwood One for the 2019 season. Twitch added "co-streaming" with live commentary from specially chosen users of the service for its 2019 Thursday night games.
Most watched regular season games
||November 28, 4:30 ET
||November 24, 4:25 ET
||New England Patriots
||December 8, 4:25 ET
||Kansas City Chiefs
||New England Patriots
||2018 AFC championship game rematch
||November 28, 12:30 ET
||December 22, 4:25 ET
||November 17, 4:25 ET
||New England Patriots
||Super Bowl LII rematch
||October 6, 4:25 ET
||Green Bay Packers
||September 29, 8:20 ET
||New Orleans Saints
||September 8, 4:25 ET
||New York Giants
||September 15, 4:25 ET
||New Orleans Saints
||Los Angeles Rams
||2018 NFC championship game rematch
*Note — Late DH matchups listed in table are the matchups that were shown to the largest percentage of the market.
- ^ DAL/NE was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ KC/NE was shown in 83% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
- ^ NE/PHI was shown in 93% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
- ^ DAL/PHI was shown in 88% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ GB/DAL was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ NYG/DAL was shown in 85% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ NO/LAR was shown in 81% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
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