The NFL will discuss a collection of proposed rules changes at next week’s league meetings in Orlando, Fla. with alterations to both extra points and kickoffs likely to garner the most attention.
As has been speculated and debated for the last couple months, a proposal to move the extra point from the 2 to the 25-yard line is on the table for owners to potentially approve, which would dramatically change how the game is played. The change was proposed by New England and is intended to make the try kick “a more competitive play” but will also likely lead to more two-point conversions attempts, which would still take place from the 2-yard line.
The competition committee has also proposed a vote on whether to move kickoffs up to the 40-yard line just three years after they were moved from the 30 to the 35. Of course, this change is suggested to improve player safety but will lead to even fewer kickoff returns. This idea was submitted by Washington and would be viewed as another step toward devaluing special teams.
Of course, it’s important to remember none of the proposed changes are official and must receive approval from at least 24 of the 32 owners, who will vote on the potential rules changes next week.
After much discussion, the competition committee determined that the power to penalize players for using racial or homophobic slurs is already with the officials through use of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This is expected to be a major point of emphasis next season that will be reiterated with players when NFL officials meet with them during training camp as they do every year.
The owners are also expected to continue discussing the possibility of expanding the playoff field for the 2015 season and could even vote next week, but there was no formal proposal submitted by the competition committee. This expansion would include one extra playoff team in each conference, which would eliminate a bye in each conference and create a total of six wild-card games over the first weekend of the postseason.
If a 14-team playoff format had been implemented over the last five years, three 10-6 teams, four 9-7 teams, and three 8-8 teams would have been the additional qualifiers for postseason play.
In all, there are 13 proposed rules changes, seven potential alterations to league by-laws, and one proposed resolution up for vote.
Here is a brief rundown of the other proposed changes on the table for next week:
- Subject personal foul penalties to instant replay review
- Eliminate overtime periods in preseason games
- Extend the uprights of the goalposts an additional five feet above the crossbar
- Place fixed cameras on all boundary lines to supplement television cameras for the instant replay system
- Allow coaches to use replay challenges on a bigger array of plays.
- Alter rules to include penalties for blockers who roll up on the side of defensive players’ legs.
- Permit the referee to consult with members of the league officiating department during replay reviews.
- Expand reviewable plays to include the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play.
- Allow the game clock to continue running after a quarterback sack as it currently does inside two minutes remaining in either half.
- Make the pass interference line at the line of scrimmage instead of one yards beyond the line of scrimmage to cut down on rubs and pick plays by the offense.
- Change the spot where defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage are enforced.
- Increase the game-day roster from 46 to 49 players for any games not played on Sundays or Mondays other than the opening weekend of the season.
- Raise the practice squad limit from eight to 10 players.
- Allow clubs to trade players beginning 14 days before the start of the new league year.
- Eliminate the initial preseason cut from 90 to 75 players and simply require teams to trim their preseason roster from 90 to 53 at the conclusion of the preseason.
- Permit more than one player to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return.
- Allow additional testing of eligible players leading up to the draft.
- Move final roster cuts for the regular season from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the final Saturday of the preseason when no games take place on that Friday.
- Allow teams to open or close a retractable roof at halftime of a contest.