Although he did not say as much in comments at the owner's meeting last week, numerous league sources indicated that Roger Goodell's recently signed contract extension will mark the end of his tenure as commissioner, with one of his primary goals in the coming years the identification of a possible replacement.
Goodell's deal runs to 2024, though several league sources indicated it is quite possible he steps aside a bit sooner, following the completion of upcoming labor and broadcast negotiations, if his potential successor is progressing on the job as expected. In addition to preparing for these massive CBA talks in the coming years, and stewarding the league into new broadcast contracts early next decade, Goodell is also hopeful of having a potential successor in place by 2020 who could learn on the job as those processes unfold.
League sources said that the potential commissioner-in-waiting will not be formally recognized as such (making the situation unlike how the NBA named Adam Silver the next commissioner while David Stern was still running the league). But it will be understood in league circles that this person is training for the position, in essence, and should they develop as expected and fit into the league's culture, then they will have emerged as the primary in-house candidate for the position by the time Goodell steps aside.
There also will be sweeping changes coming to the league's Park Avenue headquarters in 2018, I continue to hear and as we first reported weeks ago. That remained a hot topic of conversation among owners at the just completed league meeting outside of Dallas, with big changes coming to football operations at the upper-management level across several departments, as the owners want to streamline and tighten up spending in New York City amid concerns about how issues like on- and off-field discipline, player protests and matters involving officiating have been handled in recent years.