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List of NFL Rule Changes for the 2017 Season

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Which rules are changing for the 2017 NFL season?

NFL: NFL Meetings
Vice president of officiating for the NFL Dean Blandino.
Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend, we discussed 15 rule proposals and 6 bylaws and 3 resolutions that were being voted on at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting. The results are in:

  • 8 rule proposals passed
  • 3 bylaws passes
  • 1 resolution passed

8 NFL Rule Changes That Passed

The number in parenthesis indicates the original rule proposal number.

  1. Leaping No Longer Allowed on Field Goals (#2): Teams are prohibited from leaping over players in an attempt to block a field goal or extra point. This will now result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
  2. Automatic Ejection for Two Certain Unsportsmanlikes (#8): This rule existed last year, and led to three ejections. The rule is now permanent after being on a trial run in 2016.
  3. Kickoff Touchbacks Begin at 25-Yard Line (#9): This is the other rule that existed in 2016, but was simply voted on to make it permanent now. Touchbacks on kickoffs will come out to the 25 yard line.
  4. Added Protection for Defenseless Receivers (#11): This rule says a receiver is now a defenseless player if they are running their pattern, even if a pass is not coming their way. I can think of this having relevance if a quarterback is outside the pocket and a receiver isn’t aware of it yet -- while still running his route, the defender can’t just level him in the head.
  5. Illegal Crackback Blocks from Backfield Motion Players (#12): This makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
  6. Replay Review Completely Overhauled (#13): Gone are the days of the on-field official heading under a booth for replay review. A central office will now conduct the review, and the on-field official will utilize a tablet.
  7. Disallow Multiple Holds to Manipulate Game Clock (#14): If it is near the end of a half, teams can no longer commit multiple holds to burn clock and thus put the other team at a disadvantage. Doing this will now be a 15-yard penalty, and clock will be restored to where it was before the previous play.
  8. One-Minute Runoff Now a Two-Minute Runoff (#15): Previously, if teams commited an illegal substitution penalty or lose a replay review while the clock was running and there was under one minute to play, there was a 10-second runoff. This rule change makes it a 10-second runoff where there are under two minutes to play.

3 NFL Bylaws That Passed

  1. Language to Make Draft Exams More Formal (#4): This bylaw is a one-year trial — it includes workout language for draft prospects that attempts to “make the college scouting process more equitable for all clubs.”
  2. Threshold on Returning PUP/NFI is Expanded (#5): This bylaw would allow a player to remain on the Reserve/PUP or Reserve/NFI list later into the season than currently allowed, while still having the potential to be activated.
  3. More Roster Flexibility (#6): The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

1 NFL Resolution That Passed

  1. Non-Contract Employees’ Ability to be Hired (#3): Acknowledges the different hiring calendar for non-football employees. In certain situations, it is more opportune for the employer club to have a non-football employee leave during the playing season.

Issues That Were Tabled Until the May Meetings