Latest On NFL Rule Changes

The NFL discussed a set of rule changes on Thursday. Here is how the league opted to proceed:

  • A proposal to implement a fourth-and-15 play to replace the increasingly difficult onside kick was tabled, Tom Pelissero of tweets. This proposal would give teams the option of eschewing kickoffs for a 15-yard conversion — on an untimed down — twice per game. This marks the second straight year the league tabled such a proposal. But teams were split this time around. The unofficial straw poll had 16 teams for and 16 against, Mike Garafolo of notes (via Twitter). This rule, or something similar, will almost certainly be revisited again as some momentum now exists to adjust the onside kick.
  • The opposition to the fourth-and-15 proposal came largely from owners fearing it could be a bridge to eliminating the kickoff altogether, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The NFL pushed back against that perception, viewing the potential rule change as merely a way to help teams’ comeback efforts — now that the no-running-start rule has worsened onside kick recovery odds.
  • Both sky judge proposals did not even make it to a vote, with each being withdrawn in advance of Thursday’s discussions, Pelissero notes. But the league did approve a preseason experiment that may lead to such a change. The approval will allow for increased communication between on-field officials and those in the booth during this preseason, and NFL executive VP for football operations Troy Vincent said (via Kevin Seifert of it could be a bridge to adding a full-time booth official to each crew.
  • This preseason experiment partially stems from the NFL being concerned about having to hire 17 booth officials to act as sky judges, the Washington Post’s Mark Maske tweets. Fear of potential unintended consequences — as was the case in the one-and-done pass interference review system — prompted the league to scrap the sky judge proposals, per Florio. But the cost of hiring qualified booth officials almost certainly played a role, Florio adds.
  • Teams will have an additional IR spot this coming season. Three players can now return from IR.
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