The NFL has followed through on promises to distribute its Next-Generation statistics leaguewide, a significant victory for its growing analytics community.
The data, collected via RFID tracking devices in the shoulder pads of every player during every game, could provide the basis for a new era of player evaluation and strategy.
According to a competition committee report distributed at last week's owners meetings, data from all games in 2016 and 2017 will be distributed to each team on or about April 16. Teams will then receive a weekly report when the 2018 season begins.
The NFL has collected tracking data since 2014 but initially retained it for internal use. At the time, the competition committee was uncertain how it could be used and whether it would create a competitive imbalance based on the amount of resources various clubs applied to it.
The data included information such as speed of individual players, total yardage run by a ball carrier and the distance between receivers and defensive backs. It was occasionally used by the league's broadcasters but did not gain much traction.
In 2016, each team began receiving reports on its own players in its own games, but nothing from opponents and nothing from other games. Teams found minimal value in that data set because there was no way to put it in context with the rest of the league.