In 2014, the NFL began collecting in-game data through sensors implemented into the players' shoulder pads. These so-called “next gen stats”, which are produced through a partnership with Illinois-based tech company Zebra Technologies, are frequently used during broadcasts and track everything from a wide receiver's speed to a cornerback's movements on the field to a quarterback's pass distribution.
Through the first three years of the project, the league has only shared the data with teams individually; the New England Patriots, for example, received only the stats of their own players but none from any other team. This is all expected to change this year, though: According to a recent report by nfl.com's Tom Pelissero the NFL will start sharing league-wide data with all its clubs.
Beginning in April, the league will grant all of its teams access to the data collected between 2016 and 2017 and starting this season send out weekly sets of data. And while the change will likely not have too big of an impact on the eventual outcome of games, it could still be advantageous for clubs that have historically invested plenty of resources when it comes to research.
Enter the Patriots. The reigning AFC champions have historically dedicated a lot of effort when it comes to collecting and analyzing data, with director of football research Ernie Adams at the forefront. The news of the NFL releasing additional data could certainly benefit a team like New England – one that does not shy away from digging deep into the statistics – when it comes to scouting opponents and potential targets for free agency.