While organized team activities are kicking off in Berea, the NFL Spring League Meeting (May 22-24) has been taking place on a national level in Chicago, Illinois. Several important changes to the game were voted on and passed on Tuesday; here is a summary of what we learned:
Only One Cutdown Date from 90 to 53 players
For the past several years, teams would have to trim their rosters from 90 players to 75 players after the third preseason game. A resolution passed today to eliminate that requirement -- there will only be one cutdown date before the start of the regular season:
Per source, the owners just passed a resolution eliminating the 75-man cutdown. So now, there'll be just one cutdown day -- 90 to 53.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 23, 2017
Albert Breer of the MMQB says that coaches liked this idea because they would have more players available to them for the fourth preseason game. Even though that fourth preseason game typically only saw second- and third-stringers play, coaches would probably rather not risk injuries to their primary depth. So you can expect the fourth preseason game to truly feature a majority of players who will be cut.
It also changes our coverage a bit here at Dawgs By Nature — there will be more roster cuts to predict, and it’ll be tougher on cutdown day to sort through who league-wide got cut. Previously, we were talking about a pool of just over 700 players for the final cutdown, but now it’s going to be at nearly 1,200 players. Teams can still opt to trim their rosters before the final preseason game.
Two Players on IR Can Return
A new rule will allow two players to return from injured reserve later in the season. This is something that only makes sense to me, as it’s the type of thing that (in my opinion) cost a guy like Nate Orchard a shot at returning in 2016 after an ankle injury, because Cleveland was already dead-set on using their one designation on Robert Griffin III.
Semi-related to IR, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says that owners did not vote on the suggestion of roster exemptions being available for players with concussions. This is something the league should definitely look at next year.
NFL owners did not vote on a proposal that would have granted a roster exemption for a player with a concussion. Maybe addressed next year— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) May 23, 2017
Overtime Reduced from 15 Minutes to 10 Minutes
Overtime in the regular season has been officially reduced from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. I’ve already stated that I’m not a fan of this move, but I’ll live with it.
NFL Relaxes Celebration Penalties, With a Caveat
The NFL is relaxing the rule prohibiting certain celebrations. For example, players can "use the football as a prop after a TD," "celebrate on the ground," and do "group demonstrations." Thank god. We’ll try to do another post later on what seems to be allowed vs. what is disallowed. However, there is a caveat with this flexibility: there will now be a 40-second play clock on PATs.
One way the NFL will regulate celebrations: The 40 second play clock for the PAT will start right after the TD is scored. Keeps game moving— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) May 23, 2017
If the play clock starts right after the touchdown, then the players will have to exit the field in time to line up for the PAT. Most offensive linemen are part of the field goal time, so they can’t exactly run to the end zone to join in on a celebration, and then sprint back to the 17 yard line so they can take their position on the PAT. I hope the NFL is able to find a little bit of flexibility here — maybe wait about 10-15 seconds after the touchdown is scored before starting the play clock? We shall see.
Loosening a GM Requirement
According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, whether a candidate has “the final say” over the 53-man roster won’t allow a team to block an interview.
This is exactly what happened to the Browns in 2016, if you recall. Because Sashi Brown had the final say, when Cleveland was searching for a GM, other NFL teams had the right to block their request for an interview. That took potential director of college scouting, director of pro personnel, or any other person under contract with another team off the table for Cleveland, if the other team wanted to block the interview.
Ultimately, Cleveland hired Andrew Berry not as GM, but as their VP of Player Personnel.
(Basically, idea here is that a candidate for a GM job can't be blocked from pursuing that job just bc it does have final say over the 53.)— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 23, 2017