A Look at the NFL Rule Changes That the Owners Will Vote on Next Week

Troy Vincent, the new Executive VP of Football Operations

The annual NFL owners meetings begin this Monday in Orlando, FL. One of the agenda at the meeting will be to vote on 13 proposed rule changes, 7 proposed bylaws, and 1 proposed resolution. By my recollection, this sounds like a lot more issues up for vote than the norm. For those interested in reading the complete transcript of the discussion on the proposals, click here. I offer a digest of sorts below.

Proposed Rule Changes

  1. Move the kickoff from the 35-yard line to the 40-yard line. Just a few years ago, kickoffs were made from the 30-yard line. Just like with the previous moving of the kickoff, I would hate this. Kickoffs would most certainly go out of bounds if a team desired, and teams would be more likely to attempt onside kicks.

  2. Expand instant replay to include personal foul penalties. I would love this to pass, because one of the biggest controversies in the NFL in any given game these days are roughing the passer calls, or hits to the head/neck area of a defenseless receiver. The refs have a tough time seeing it right in fast motion, so let's give them a chance to get it right.

  3. Eliminate overtime in preseason games. Teams purposefully avoid overtime any way by going for two points, or doing something out-of-the-ordinary to prevent a tie. This isn't a big deal, but I wouldn't mind it passing I guess.

  4. Extend the goal posts upwards by five yards. This would be to ensure better calls by the officials on kicks that go above the goal posts. I like the idea, but would it be feasible to replace the goal posts in every stadium?

  5. Move extra points back to the 25-yard line. We've heard this discussed quite a bit during the offseason. I can't see this rule passing for historical reasons, and for how much it would drastically change the strategy of the game.

  6. Put fixed cameras on all boundary lines. This would include the sideline, end line, and end zone, with the idea being that it would improve the camera angles that officials have when doing replay review. Where would the cameras be, though? Suspended in the air? You have to make sure they aren't fixed in a spot where players could go tumbling into them.

  7. Allow a coach to challenge any decision made by officials. This would seem to include proposal number two in it, except that it would extend to other plays too -- those ones where officials often say, "by rule, the play is not reviewable." This would exclude scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed.

  8. Protect players from getting rolled up on. Currently, the rule book says that a player cannot roll up on the back of a player's legs, for safety reasons. The change would also include players from rolling up on the side of a player's legs.

  9. Replay reviews assisted by central office. When an official goes to the booth for a review, the play in question will already be reviewed by an official at the command office in New York. The official at the game will consult with the official in New York to make sure the right call is made, hopefully reducing either bias or the number of mistakes. I would love this to go into effect.

  10. Reorganize rule book and the Bowman rule. Part one of this rule involves reorganizing the rule book to better describe which plays are reviewable. Part two of this rule would be to allow the NaVarro Bowman play to be reviewable -- if you recall, in the playoffs, he recovered a fumble, but when it became loose again in a pile, the officials said it wasn't a reviewable play. Yes, please -- pass this one.

  11. Allow clock to run after a sack. Currently, outside of two minutes in each half, when a player is sacked, the clock is stopped temporarily and then re-started. I wasn't even aware that this happened, but I'm guessing it helps prevent delay of games on the next play. Maybe this one shouldn't pass, because sometimes, a quarterback needs a quick breather after a sack, or a coach needs time to adjust for his next play call. This would also seem to discourage defenders from celebrating a sack because they'll need to hurry up and get ready for the next play.

  12. No pass interference at line of scrimmage. Currently, offensive players are allowed to commit pass interference within one yard of the line of scrimmage. The feeling is that teams are using this rule as a way of running certain rub plays or kick routes, and this proposal would make that contact illegal if it's anywhere beyond the line of scrimmage.

  13. Enforcement of defensive fouls. As the rule stands now, defensive penalties that take place beyond the line of scrimmage are sometimes deemed penalties from where the foul occurred, in terms of where to mark off yardage. The proposal would make the yardage marked off from the original line of scrimmage, even if the defensive foul was committed behind the line of scrimmage and runner was stopped behind the line of scrimmage.

Proposed Bylaws

  1. Increase active roster from 46 players to 49 players. This would be for any Saturday or Thursday games from Weeks 2 to 17.

  2. Raise the practice squad limit from 8 players to 10 players.

  3. Allow players to be traded prior to the start of the league year. Prior to free agency, trades cannot take place. This would allow players to be traded before free agency, rather than having to cut them.

  4. Eliminate first batch of roster cuts. Currently, in the preseason, there is a roster cutdown from 90 to 75 players. The proposal it to eliminate that cutdown, and just go straight from 90 players to 53 players. This might help keep more young talent available for the fourth preseason game, but I like the mid-cutdown process.

  5. Any player can return from IR. Two years ago, the NFL allowed a team to place one player on the "designated to return from IR" list. The proposal would allow any player placed on IR to be able to return after six weeks.

  6. Allow more access to draft prospects. This would permit teams to be able to time-and-test 10 draft-eligible players at their own facilities. Also, any team in the NFL would be able to come to that for observation.

  7. Final cuts from 6 PM to 4 PM. When final cuts are made at the end of the preseason, the cuts are currently due in by 6 PM. The proposal would change the deadline to 4 PM.

Proposed Resolution

  1. Opening or closing the roof at halftime. Currently, a home team with a retractable roof must decide before the game whether a roof should be open or closed. The proposal would allow the team to make another decision at halftime, whether to open or close it. I think you are opening Pandora's box with this one. What if the home team is leading by 14 points at halftime, and it is pouring rain outside. They could open the roof, knowing it is difficult for the other team to pass in the rain/wind.

What do you think of the proposed changes, Browns fans?

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