The NFL is continuing negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, possibly resolved this year, with attention then turning to working out new broadcast contracts. That could well turn out to be the two final major events of Roger Goodell's tenure as NFL commissioner.
Goodell has told several people close to him that he intends to move on after the completion of those two vital negotiations, which will set the stage for football revenues and operations for upwards of a decade. Goodell's work on the labor and broadcast fronts are two of the areas where he enjoys the most robust approval among owners, and the pace and progress of the labor talks has them excited about the possibility of hashing out new TV, streaming and online deals before the current broadcast deals expire after the 2022 season.
Goodell has faced his share of criticism and was particularly under duress during the 2017 season, at the height of clashes between Donald Trump and NFL players. However, even then he always maintained more than sufficient support to remain in his position and sign a new contract extension.
However, that appears to be the final contract he will do with the owners, and at this point he could walk away in a few years depending on the rate at which the television deals are completed. Undoubtedly, there would be a group of owners who would want him to stay, but these negotiations are far and away the two biggest issues for the league to deal with, and change could be coming after.
Already through these CBA talks it is becoming clear that the role of the commissioner will change some in the next labor deal, and the division of labor within the league office could be changing as well, sources said. In the new CBA it is very unlikely the commissioner will retain oversight on off-field discipline issues, I'm told, and there could be new positions created below him or her with one top exec focusing on football matters and another on the business side.
Quietly, some have begun mulling potential candidates both from within and outside the league circles, sources said. Highly-influential owners like Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft have their own visions of who might be best equipped for the position, and those men are expected to have a significant impact on the process.