This is one of those bar room conversations that gets a guy thinking. Or in this case, it was a conversation that occured during Wednesday’s edition of the John Kincade show. The proposal for the English Super League was brought up during the almost award winning segment “The Lynch Pin.” John, admittedly, wasn’t very familiar with the way soccer works over in Europe. Shaq never taught him so you cant fault the guy. For those unaware, let me go over the cliff notes
There are four different divisions in Europe.
The goal is to win the Premier League. But if you’re in the bottom, in league 2, then the goal is to get promoted to league 1. The top 3 teams in League 2 are promoted to League 1. The top 2 teams from League 1 are promoted to the Championship. The top 2 teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League. There are also play in games but basically, you finish top 2 and youre moving up. conversely, if you finish in the bottom, you’re getting sent to the tier below. The results of this stretch far and wide.
Being promoted to the Premier League is the most lucrative prize in soccer. Because a Premier League team will make more than six times what a team in The Championship will make. The effects on a club that gets relegated are felt throughout what is usually a small town. Jobs are cut and just like in Philly the general morale of the city goes in the toilet.
But the NFL is the NFL. There is no minor league. There ARE other leagues of course. Mainly the CFL and XFL. But they arent affiliated with the NFL like the different leagues are in Europe who play under the umbrella of the English Football League but that can change.
Here is how to make it happen
Create New Teams.
Six new football teams. Right out the gate. London, Toronto, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Oakland. Two international teams and four teams located in the US. The Buffalo Bills were long rumored to be heading to Toronto, until Terry Pegula saved the team and vowed to keep them in Buffalo. But Toronto is a bigger market. And of course, the NFL seems hell bent on making London a thing. I dont agree with it necessarily BUT it appears that if expansion were to ever happen then London would be included. San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the US. Oklahoma City proved when the Thunder came to town that they can, and will support a major team. Oakland just lost their team but if you want to switch Oakland with St. Louis then be my guest.
Where Do These Clubs Get Players?
Not the draft. The NFL draft will be STRICTLY for the 32 top teams in the NFL. The 6 clubs that are located in “league 2” (its a working title) will have to fight it out for undrafted free agents. The teams in League 2 will have an $90 million dollar cap. Nearly half of what the NFL has right now.
“BuT WhY WoUlD A PlAyEr SiGn WiTh A lEaGuE 2 tEaM?”
Great question Sammy Cynic! Simply put, playing time. Just like in Europe, teams that get relegated will likely have to cut serious costs. Ushering out older, expensive players for cheaper and younger options. An undrafted free agent from a division 2 school will likely have a much easier time making a League 2 team than an NFL team. ESPECIALLY with the NFLPA limiting the amount of practice time. A player could always try out for an NFL team and get cut and sign with a League 2 team. BUT they risk trying to play catch up against another player. And this isnt the G league. An NFL team cant use a League 2 team as a feeder. If they want to make a move for a player they would have to work out a trade (in Europe its the transfer market.)
This would make the trade deadline VERY interesting. In Europe, just like in the states, you’ll see teams try and load up at the deadline in an attempt to get promoted. Usually vets who are looking to get back into (insert next league up.) So lets take a guy like Nate Gerry. At the NFL level Nate Gerry is….well he tries. But at a lower level a guy like Nate Gerry could be viewed as a veteran leader who could make a big impact for a team who is competing for a promotion. The Eagles could possibly get something for him. Likely future draft picks for when a team eventually makes it to the NFL. (Imagine trading Nate Gerry for a future 4th round pick and the team hes traded to doesn’t make it up until 2031 and 10 years later you net a 4th round pick for a guy you forgot even existed)
What About The Draft Order?
The Draft Order will be as follows: First overall pick goes to the team who finished atop League 2. Pick 2 is the team who finished second in League 2. Remember, these teams are coming in with a talent deficient roster. So they’ll need impact players. After that, the team that narrowly missed out on being relegated recieves the #3 pick and so on. Just as normal. Really the only difference is instead of the 2 worst teams in the NFL receiving the top 2 picks, those teams now get relegated. They are punished for being the worst. They need to cut their salary by half. And try and work their way back up.
How Would Free Agency Work?
Just as it normally would. But instead of 32 teams bidding on free agents, there would be 38 teams. If a guy like Chase Daniels hits the open market, a team in League 2 could give him a 1 year deal with the hopes that he could play well enough to get the team promoted. And once they are promoted then maybe they look to either draft a QB or throw some of their new found salary cap cash at a free agent QB.
When Would These Teams Play And Where Could I Watch Them Play?
Saturday and Tuesday. League 2 on Saturday with the NFL on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. The League 2 championship will be held the week BEFORE the Super Bowl. The NFL already owns a day of the week. This will help them get closer to owning the entire week.
As for where the teams will play. Netflix. Games will be streamed live on the streaming giant. Games will also be available afterwards. So if you miss the game because of work, you’ll be able to log into your Netflix account and watch it whenever you want. I picked Netflix because its the biggest streaming giant but the NFL has done deals with Amazon Prime so thats also an option. Netflix though helps the NFL broaden their reach. The NFL can be seen on ABC, CBS, Fox ect. So it makes sense for the League to do the same with streaming services. And a streaming service is the perfect place to put League 2 games. And just like in the NFL, the teams in League 2 will share part of the revenue.
How This Would Effect This Years Draft
Hypothetically speaking Oklahoma City and Toronto are promoted with Toronto winning it all. Toronto would win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. They would be rewarded for winning. Not rewarded for losing, like the Jaguars have been. The Jaguars will be sent packing to League two, as will the Jets. The question though then becomes how do teams like Toronto and OKC stay in the NFL? I feel like teams would be more willing to actually trade the top two picks in the draft as they look to load up on young cheap talent. This would help not only replenish their cupboard since they haven’t been able to draft since ____. But in the chance that they finish last, it wont kill them with the cap. As Howie Roseman is figuring out, building a team through free agency can be costly and come back to bite you.
And Imagine this were last season. There were only TWO teams that actually showed serious interest in Tom Brady (Chargers and Bucs) but imagine a team who has been newly promoted, has a $90 million in cap space, and could use an upgrade at quarterback. Throwing money at Brady and drafting his heir apparent in round 1 would be a good way to stay away from heading right back down to League 2. It would totally change the way free agency is handled. It will also change the strategy of teams heading into the draft.
Why The NFL Would Do It
A brand new tv deal. 6 new teams, and more jobs! Not just within a franchise but jobs for players who aren’t drafted. It would bring some positivity to a league that routinely is dealing with negative press. If this were put into effect THIS year (which obviously it wont be) all the talk would be about the two teams who have been promoted controlling the draft.
But the biggest reason is dead presidents. A new TV deal. Ticket sales. Jersey sales. sponsorships. Not that the NFL needs more money, but here is more of it.
Why The NFL Wont Do It
Its too much work. You have to remember that Roger Goodell works for the owners. And team owners, in just about any sport, are stuck in their ways. They like things the way they are. Think about how difficult it is to get simple rules changed. A new team?! There hasn’t been one since 2002 and this is the biggest sport in the country. Im talking about adding not just 1 new team, but 6! Thats six new owners that the league needs to vet and approve.
But also greed. While this deal makes the league, and thus the owners more money. It makes the teams in the NFL more money. Jeffrey Lurie will shoot this down as soon as he hears that owners in League 2 make less than owners in the NFL. Jerry Jones wont want to hear “Jerry, you’re worth over $8 billion, you’ll survive!” Ego is so real with these rich billionaires and no one will want the RISK. You would think that with men that successful they would assume that they would never get relegated but I think it would be the exact opposite. “You mean if the Texans get relegated i’m ONLY going to make $900 million” Bob McNair would surely shout!
And really its drastic change. Its bold. The NFL owners would act like i’m Elon Musk proposing a never ending loop from the Earth to Jupiter. When in reality its just changing the landscape of the offseason, because the game itself wont change. But speaking of change. People hate change. Combine all of this, and the relegation, promotion format will remain in Europe.
But its a fun pipe dream none the less.