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NFL passes new kickoff proposal; other new rules for 2024 season [UPDATED]

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By: John Dixon

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

At the league meetings in Orlando, owners have made some changes in how the game will be played this season.

During the league’s annual spring meetings in Orlando, NFL owners have been considering multiple rule change proposals. Here are the most impactful changes to the league’s rules.

Kickoffs will change in 2024

On Tuesday morning, owners voted to accept a proposal from the league’s Competition Committee to change the way kickoffs are conducted. The league will use the new setup for one season and then evaluate its impact.

As we have previously reported, 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. Neither 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 (past the goal line) it will be placed at the 30. If it touches the ground (or a player) in the landing zone before going past the goal line, it will be placed at the 20.

Owners had what was reported to be a spirited discussion about the proposal during Monday’s meetings, but there weren’t enough votes for it to pass. After private conversations on Monday night, the proposal was ratified with a 29-3 vote on Tuesday morning. The Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Las Vegas Raiders were reported to have voted no.

Hip-drop tackles banned

On Monday, the owners unanimously approved a proposal to ban so-called “swivel hip-drop tackles,” which the Competition Committee believes are too dangerous. Under the rule adopted on Monday, a defensive player must do three things for a hip-drop tackle to be called:

  • grab a ball carrier with both hands (or wrap the runner with both arms)
  • unweight themselves by swiveling and dropping their hips or lower body to the ground
  • land on (or trap) the ball carrier’s legs at or below the knee

If an official observes all three of these actions, a penalty will be called. The offense will be awarded 15 yards and a first down. But if any of those three criteria are not met, a penalty will not be called.

Teams more likely to get a third replay challenge

On Monday, the league approved a proposal that would allow teams to request a third replay challenge if one of the first two overturns an on-field call. Under previous rules, teams would only get a third challenge if both of the first two caused officials to change a play’s outcome.

The replay assistant will have more input on bad calls

According to Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay, an officiating crew’s Replay Assistant will now be permitted to fix incorrect calls for two specific kinds of plays: roughing the passer and intentional grounding. According to McKay, the assistants may only provide objective analysis — such as whether a defender contacted a quarterback’s helmet or whether a quarterback was outside of the pocket.


New plays covered by replay review

The league adopted two changes that will allow replay review for two kinds of situations: when a passer has been ruled out of bounds (or down by contact) and when a play appears to have begun after a game clock has expired.

Changes to bylaws

The owners have also passed changes to the league’s bylaws. One adjustment moves the yearly trade deadline back one week. Previously, it was the Tuesday after Week 8. Now, it will be the Tuesday following Week 9.

Another change allows teams to have an unlimited number of players to be designated to return from their Reserve/Injured lists during the postseason. (Previously, these counted against the limit of eight returns per season).

A third change allows teams to designate up to two players who are already on their Reserve/Injured lists before the final cutdown to be available for return during the season. (Previously, players were required to be on a team’s 53-man roster for at least one day before they could be designated to return from the Reserve/Injured list during the season). Players designated in this way will automatically count against the regular-season limit of eight — even if they do not return to the roster that season.

Finally, teams will be allowed to elevate a “bona fide” quarterback from their practice squads an unlimited number of times to serve as their third emergency quarterback. (Previously, a third emergency quarterback was required to be on a team’s 53-man roster).

Changes to resolutions

The owners approved a proposal that players who do not travel with the team to an away game must be declared out in an update to the team’s injury report. In addition, the so-called “Hawk-Eye” video feed will be made available to coaches in the booth during games. This will be done during 2024’s preseason games, with full implementation scheduled for the 2025 season.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride