clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

List of NFL Rule Changes for the 2016 Season

Which rules are changing for the 2016 NFL season?

Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

This week at the NFL Owner's Meetings, potential rule changes, bylaws, and resolutions were voted on. The results are in, with the proposals either having been passed, rejected, or tabled for further discussion in 2016. Listed below are the changes that passed, which will go into effect during the 2016 season:

NFL Rule Changes / Bylaws That Passed

  1. Extra Points Permanently Moved Back. Last year was a 1-year trial run for extra points being moved from the 2- to the 15-yard line. This year, the vote was to make the change permanent, and it passed by a unanimous vote, as expected.

  2. Press Box Coach-to-Player Communication. In the past, coaches in the press box could not talk to the player with the communication system directly. The coach in the press box had to radio down to the sideline first, and then the coach on the sideline could relay it to the player. Now, if desired, the middle man can be cut out of the equation, hopefully leading to fewer delay of game issues.

  3. Chop Blocks Are Eliminated. Chop blocks are now illegal, although you can still go low if a defensive player engages you first. This will change some teams' playbooks on offense, but shouldn't have a major impact other than allowing defenders to feel more secure about their lower legs.

  4. Ejection for Certain Unsportsmanlike Penalties. This was passed for a one-year trial run. Personally, I think this should be something that is up to the discretion of the officials or someone at the league office, but theoretically it shouldn't come up less than a handful of times per season.

  5. Touchbacks Now Come Out to the 25. I am not a fan of all the kickoff changes over the past several years, and I think this incentivizes return teams to take a knee for a touchback more often. I am interested in seeing how many teams purposely kick it high and short, though, so the ball is fielded around the 2 yard line, to try to pin teams inside the 25. This proposal passed for a one-year trial run as well.

  6. Horse Collar Expanded. The horse collar penalties have been expanded to a little below the neck area of the jersey; grabbing anywhere near the name area and yanking the player down will be an infraction moving forward.

  7. Five Yard Penalty for Excess Timeout. If a team tries to call a timeout when they don't have one, there will be a delay of game penalty called on them. For some teams, though, perhaps that would be an advantage (i.e. in a two-minute drill).

  8. Illegal Touching Penalty. Previously, if a player went out of bounds and then caught a pass, it's not a legal catch. The offending team would be penalized five yards, but would repeat the down. Now, with the new rule, the offending team will not be penalized in yardage, but they will lose the down. In other words, it'll be treated like an incomplete pass.

  9. Double Foul Issue. I still don't understand this one the best.

  10. Re-Signing Player With Injury Settlement. Teams can reach injury settlements with players to waive them. Basically, if a team meant to sign a player for one week but they suffer an ankle injury, for roster flexibility, they can reach an injury settlement for four weeks of pay if that is how long they feel it would've taken the player to heal. Anyway, the old rule said that if you wanted to re-sign that player, you had to wait six weeks after the end of the injury settlement time. Now, that period is shortened to three weeks.

  11. Short-Term IR Change. In the past, teams could designate one player to return from injured reserve. Teams were often in a predicament with regard to which player they should give the designation to, and when they should give it. Under the new rule, a team can still only have one player return from IR, but they do not have to declare which player that is. So, if a team puts five players on IR, they can go through the season and determine in say, Week 12, which player they could most use back, based on the players' rehabs and their own roster needs.

  12. Minor Injury Clarification. There were some adjustments to the wording of what constitutes a "minor injury" and how teams should handle those roster transactions with respect to IR.

To read the press conference transcript about the changes, click here. Are you strongly for or against any of the changes?