September 9, 2022 | SPORTS | By Ben Hayes-Lemmon | Photo courtesy of The Catalyst Archives

Throughout much of the offseason, the National Football League has seen numerous changes among coaching staffs, NFL rules, and some of the biggest names in football have been traded around the NFL. The goal of this article is to give insight into the changes that have happened throughout the offseason, and to better prepare you for what might become one of the most exciting NFL seasons in years.

There were several changes to the rulebook this year, mostly concerning playoff football. One of the most controversial moments that helped inspire such a rule change occurred in the 2021-2022 NFL season, when the Buffalo Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional round game.

Although the Chiefs were winning by a few points, quarterback Josh Allen almost led the Bills to a comeback, throwing a touchdown with just under two minutes remaining in the game. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense responded aptly, scoring a touchdown and ticking the clock down to less than a minute. Buffalo had no choice but to march down the field and score yet another touchdown, leaving just 13 seconds on the clock. Mahomes pulled off a miracle, gaining 44 yards before kicking a field goal and tying the game.

Despite the miraculous back-and-forth, the Bills did not have the chance to score in overtime, sparking controversy as the Chiefs won the game by winning the coin toss and promptly scoring a touchdown.

For years now, the coin toss at the beginning of overtime has determined who had the chance to score first. If the Bills had had a chance to possess the ball, the game may have had a different result.

Now, in order to prevent any unfair advantage given by the coin toss, the updated overtime rules now read as such. “Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once during the extra period, unless the team kicking off to start the overtime period scores a safety on the receiving team’s initial possession, in which case the team that kicked off is the winner,” and “after each team has had an opportunity to possess the ball, if one team has more points than its opponent, it is the winner.”

Another point of constant controversy this summer has been Deshaun Watson’s sexual misconduct case, which recently reached an official settlement. Watson, who signed a five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns for a guaranteed $230 million, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 24 women, specifically over coercive behavior during massage appointments.

While the case has been an ongoing investigation for much of the summer, Watson has now settled 23 of the 24 claims as two grand juries in as many Texas counties have declined to charge him as a criminal.

Judge Sue L. Robinson, hired by the NFL to oversee discipline for players, recommended a six-game suspension for Watson, but the NFL repealed this decision in favor of a harsher punishment; currently Watson is suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022-2023 season and was fined over $5 million as part of the settlement.

While some people think this punishment is enough, numerous sources throughout the NFL are calling for a harsher sentence for Watson.

Watson was one of numerous impactful trades throughout the offseason, yet he is just one of the big names who found a new home over the summertime. For local sports fans, the Denver Broncos pulled off a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for quarterback Russell Wilson.

The past couple of years since Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s retirement have been back-to-back seasons of watching quarterback Drew Lock hold the ball too long. This year, however, promises more excitement as they bring in the right balance of game experience and decision making with Wilson.

Wilson is primed to perform well this year; the Broncos have built up a young core of talented receivers, such as Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, who are due to have breakout seasons as they work with Wilson for the first time.

Two of the Broncos’ closest rivals, the Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders, also made some massive trades. Broncos fans rejoiced as the Chiefs traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins for Rounds 1, 2 and 4 draft picks in the 2022 Draft, and Round 4 and 6 picks in the 2023 Draft.

Hill has been a dominant weapon and one of Mahomes’ primary targets over the past couple years. However, the Raiders picked up arguably the best wide receiver in the league from the Green Bay Packers this year in wide receiver Davante Adams. Adams was shockingly traded to the Raiders for Rounds 1 and 2 picks in the 2022 Draft.

With the first game on Thursday Sept. 8, there is a feeling of excitement and anticipation for the beginning of another incredible season of football. Predictions are beginning to fly about winners and losers, but among all of these changes one thing is for certain; we are all in for an exciting and shocking NFL season.

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