Off-season QB moves played a big role in the NFL schedule

When NFL schedule officials began digging after the Super Bowl to piece together the complex jigsaw puzzle of a 272-game schedule, Tom Brady had just retired, Russell Wilson was in Seattle, and the free agent frenzy didn’t stop there. hadn’t even started.

After sifting through more than 100,000 programs on a possibility of more than a quadrillion possibilities, the final program the NFL released Thursday had Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Wilson and his new team in Denver getting windows. prime time television in week 1.

The Bucs secured the opening berth Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, while Wilson’s debut for the Broncos will come against his former Seahawks team in Seattle in Monday night’s opener.

“Previously, building this thing by hand, we could have been in week 8 or 9 by the time we moved Russell Wilson to Denver,” the NFL’s vice president of broadcast planning said. , Mike North. “Maybe we could have adjusted a couple of things, but maybe not a wholesale stop and restart. Now, thanks to the way technology allows us to attack this process, we were able to stop, take a break, reevaluate and talk to our partners, talk to our bosses and start all over again and within days we had a whole new path and a whole new plan that would maximize every one of those Denver games, every one of those Denver games Tampa Bay.

“We probably weren’t going to do this until these quarterbacks moved on.”

Although changes in free agency and the draft are always a factor that schedulers have to deal with, this year’s retirement change by Brady and the new homes of Wilson and Deshaun Watson have been more publicized and have had a significant impact on the schedule.

The Broncos and Bucs were among the 13 teams that got the maximum five prime-time windows, along with Super Bowl entrants the Rams and Bengals, and other big-draw teams such as Buffalo, Dallas, Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New England and the Chargers.

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