NFL teams have tried to find a better alternative to the onside kick over the past few years, including a 4th-and-15 proposal that would instantly add more excitement to the game. The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to try and get the proposal passed again, one year after their initial attempt (per Mark Maske of the Washington Post).
The proposal has been tweaked over the years, but is very detailed and may be enough to get the owners to actually approve it this time around -- especially considering the data from last season. Teams were 4-for-31 on fourth-down attempts of 15 yards or more in 2020, a conversion rate of 12.9%. They are 3-for-67 on onside kick conversions (4.5%), so the fourth-and-15 attempt has a much higher chance for the team making the conversion attempt to keep the ball -- which would be the point of the rule change in the first place.
In the 2019 offseason, the Denver Broncos proposed a rule change "to provide an alternative onside kick that would allow a team who is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring." The rule change would have given teams an opportunity to convert a fourth-and-15 from their own 35-yard line instead of attempting an onside kick in order to get the ball back. It could have been used just once during the fourth quarter.
This onside kick alternative has been floated around the NFL for the past two years, yet has not received the 75% of the vote from owners needed to make it official. NFL owners voted down the proposal initially but tested the onside kick alternative at the 2020 Pro Bowl. The league added a twist to the initial proposal as the scoring team may elect to give the ball to its opposition at their own 25, or it may elect to take the ball at its own 25-yard line (instead of the 35, as originally proposed) for a fourth-and-15 play. If the conversion is successful, the team that attempted the fourth-and-15 would maintain possession as normal; if not, the result would be a turnover. The other team would take over possession from wherever the play ended.
Prior to voting down the second proposal, the league added another tweak. The fourth-and-15 play would be an untimed down compared to the original proposal, where the play was going to follow normal NFL timing rules.
Teams would be allowed to try the fourth-and-15 play up to twice per game no matter what the score is. All normal rules would apply to the play, so the offense could get an automatic first down and keep the ball for a defensive holding or pass interference. If the offense was penalized, they wouldn't be allowed to then kick off after the penalty is enforced. Instead, they would have to run a fourth-down play from their new line of scrimmage, meaning an offensive false start penalty would lead to a fourth-and-20 from the 20-yard line. If the offensive team didn't convert, the defensive team would take over on downs from where the play ended.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in November the idea "merits a lot of discussion," so the NFL will take the measures necessary to see if the onside kick rule will be changed. Based on the data, the game is more exciting with the onside kick proposal.