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NFL owners to consider multiple rule changes during next week’s league meetings

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By: John Dixon

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Owners will consider 17 proposals change how the game is played — and how the league conducts its business.

The NFL’s league meetings will take place this Sunday through Wednesday in Orlando, Florida. Among the many issues that NFL owners will consider are proposed changes to the league’s playing rules and bylaws.

Some of these proposals have been put forth by teams. Others have been made by the league’s Competition Committee, which now includes the Atlanta Falcons’ Rich McKay, the Cincinnati Bengals’ Katie Blackburn, the Miami Dolphins’ Chris Grier, Dallas Cowboys’ Stephen Jones, the New York Giants’ John Mara, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay and the Buffalo Bills’ Sean McDermott.

Each of these proposed changes will require the approval of 24 of the league’s 32 owners. Some may be tabled for later consideration at the next league meetings, which occur May 20-22 in Nashville. Sometimes, these proposals change before being approved during the May meeting.

Proposed changes to playing rules

By Competition Committee: for one year only, amends Rule 6, to create a new form of a free kick play.

This is the rule change proposal we reported two weeks ago: to make kickoffs similar to those in the XFL — and more likely to be returned.

The kicker will spot the ball at his own 35. His teammates will line up at the opponent’s 40, while the returning team will line up five yards away at their own 35.

None of either team’s blockers may move until the ball hits the ground or touches a player. Up to two returners can line up in the “landing zone” (between the 20-yard line and the goal line). If the kick is fielded in the “landing zone,” it must be returned. If the ball fails to reach the landing zone, the return team gets the ball at the 40-yard line. If the ball lands beyond the landing zone, it will be placed at the 35. If it touches the ground (or a player) in the landing zone before being downed in the end zone, it will be placed at the 20.

Onside kicks will be permitted but will be run under the current rules. This means that the kicking team will have to declare its intention — and it will not be allowed to make that choice unless it is trailing in the fourth quarter.

By Philadelphia: amends Rule 6, Section 1, Article 1, to permit a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play (4th and 20 from the kicking team’s 20-yard line) for an onside kickoff attempt.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles are once again proposing that onside kicks be eliminated. They would be replaced with the kicking team attempting to retain possession with a difficult-to-convert play from deep in its own territory.

By Competition Committee: amends Rule 12, Section 2, to eliminate a potentially dangerous tackling technique.

This refers to the so-called “hip-drop” tackle. The Competition Committee defines this as when a tackler “grabs the runner with both hands or wraps the runner with both arms; and unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s leg(s) at or below the knee.”

The penalty would be stiff: 15 yards and an automatic first down.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) opposes this proposed rule, saying that it will confuse players, coaches and fans.

By Competition Committee: amends Rule 15, Section 3, Article 3, to include a ruling of a passer down by contact or out of bounds before throwing a pass as a reviewable play.

By Competition Committee: amends Rule 15, Section 3, Article 9, to allow a replay review when there is clear and obvious visual evidence that the game clock expired before any snap.

Both of these rules will allow officials to use replay as an aid to getting a call right.

By Detroit; amends Rule 15, Section 1, Article 1, to protect a club’s ability to challenge a third ruling following one successful challenge.

By Indianapolis: amends Rule 15, Section 3, to permit a coach or replay official (inside of two minutes) to challenge any foul that has been called.

These two adjustments to replay rules would a) allow teams to have three replay challenges after successfully challenging one call through replay (rather than two); and b) allow coaches to challenge fouls called inside of the two-minute warning.

By Competition Committee: amends Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6, to expand the crackback prohibition to players who go in motion and move beyond the center to block a defender at or below the knee.

This is meant to improve enforcement of the existing prohibition against “crackback” blocks.

By Competition Committee: amends Rule 14, Section 5, Article 2, to allow for an enforcement of a major foul by the offense prior to a change of possession in a situation where there are fouls by both teams.

By Philadelphia: amends Rule 9, Section 2, Article 2, to eliminate the first touch spot after the receiving team possesses the ball.

Proposed changes to league bylaws

By Competition Committee: amends Article XVII, Section 17.16(C), to permit each club to place a maximum of two players who are placed on an applicable Reserve List on the business day of the final roster reduction to be designated for return. Such players will immediately count as two of the club’s total designations.

By Detroit: amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 (C) of the Constitution & Bylaws, to remove the requirement that a player must spend at least one day on the Active roster following the final roster reduction in order to become eligible to be designated for return.

Currently, a player may not return from a team’s Reserve/Injured list during the season unless they are on the team’s initial roster after the final roster cutdown. Under the Competition Committee’s proposal, when a season begins, teams could designate two players already on IR to be available for return; Detroit’s proposal would essentially allow any player on IR to return. Teams would continue to be limited to just eight IR returns each year.

By Detroit: amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 (C) of the Constitution & Bylaws, to provide clubs with an unlimited number of designated for return transactions in the postseason.

This means that players who returned from IR during the postseason would not count against the eight-player seasonal limit.

By Competition Committee: amends Article XVII, Section 17.3, to expand the Standard Elevation rules to permit clubs to elevate a bona fide Quarterback an unlimited number of times from its practice squad to its Active List to be its Emergency Third Quarterback.

By Buffalo: amends Article XVII, Section 17.3 of the Constitution & Bylaws, to expand the Standard Elevation rules to permit clubs to elevate a third player from its practice squad who is a bona fide quarterback to be an Emergency Third Quarterback.

These two proposals take different approaches to make it possible for a practice squad player to be designated as a team’s emergency third quarterback. Under the current rules, the emergency quarterback must be from a team’s 53-man roster.

By Pittsburgh: amends Article XVI, Section 16.6 of the Constitution & Bylaws, to move the trading deadline to the Tuesday after Week 9 games.

By Cleveland, Detroit, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington: amends Article XVI, Section 16.6 of the Constitution & Bylaws, to move the trading deadline to the Tuesday after Week 10 games.

The league’s trading deadline is currently the Tuesday following Week 8.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride