NFL commissioner Roger Goodell signs long-term extension, and here’s what it means

December 7, 2017 GMT

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has a new contract, as first reported by Pro Football Talk and later confirmed by multiple outlets thereafter.

Goodell’s deal was at the center of controversy in the tension between the commissioner and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as Jones tried to railroad the deal that previously looked to be a fait accompli. But the other owners blocked Jones’ attempts at thwarting it, threatening Jones with disciplinary action, and Goodell will now remain in his post for at least another seven years.

The league’s Compensation Committee sent a memo to NFL team owners informing them that a “binding contract extension has been signed by the Commissioner and by Arthur Blank, on behalf of the League entities,” per the report.

Sports Illustrated reported that Goodell’s contract, which was set to run out in 2019, will now run through the 2023 season into the early part of the 2024 calendar. Support for the deal was “nearly unanimous,” which appears to indicate that perhaps at least Jones did not support the extension.

This takes a bit of the sizzle out of the upcoming December owners meetings, and it’s very likely that the deal was signed prior to that in order to avoid Goodell being ambushed with questions about his contract status or Jones’ attempts to short-circuit it coming to be.

Jones was in lockstep with the other 31 teams’ owners when they voted unanimously in May to allow the six-man committee the power to authorize Goodell’s extension. But when tensions rose over the Ezekiel Elliott six-game suspension in August, Jones — who was considered a seventh, ad hoc member of the committee — tried to use his power against Goodell on the deal. That attempt clearly failed, as Blank made clear that Jones no longer was involved in the proceedings.

We don’t know the exact financial parameters for Goodell’s contract are, but a league spokesman previously denied the reportedly lofty asking price — $50 million annual salary, use of a private jet and lifetime health care for his family — that had made the rounds.

ESPN is reporting that the deal could be worth up to $200 million over the five years of the extension, at an average of $40 million per year, if all the parameters are met. However, the deal appears to be highly incentivized and the owners reportedly still must sign off on all the bonuses and incentives being met.

So what does this mean for the league? Well, on the large scale, it means Goodell and NFLPA executive vice president DeMaurice Smith, who locked horns on CBA negotiations back in 2011, once again will be the centerpieces in the labor battles to come when the current deal runs out following the 2020 season. Goodell is viewed roundly to have led the league to winning that war, so it will be fascinating to see how the union will attack getting improved conditions in a few years.

However, this remains a somewhat volatile time for the league amid flagging TV ratings and image problems given some of the strife it has faced this season and the past few seasons — on and off the field. Goodell clearly must help shepherd the NFL through a bit of a foggy time in the coming months and years, and it appears that leadership changes in the league office could be afoot.

What those might be are unclear. But the NFL is not through tinkering with its upper-management structure after making some sweeping changes in recent years to help boost the league’s image and that of Goodell.

Since taking over for Paul Tagliabue in 2006, Goodell has helped usher in several new state-of-the-art stadiums around the league and has increased revenue streams fairly steadily. Will that continue to be the case? Goodell’s contract appears to partially depend on it.

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