The NFL's decision to expand the schedule to 17 games might not be the only major change we see in 2021 and that's because the league's 32 owners are soon going to be voting on a few rule proposals that would all go into effect this season if they were to pass.
The NFL announced on Thursday that there will be a total of 13 rule or bylaw proposals that the owners will be voting on.
Here's a summary of the key changes that have been proposed, along with who proposed the rule.
- Eliminate overtime in the preseason (proposed by competition committee).
- Expand the prohibition on blocking below the waist by offensive and defensive players on scrimmage downs when contact occurs beyond five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage and more than two yards outside of either offensive tackle (proposed by competition committee).
- For one year only, a maximum of nine players could be in the setup zone. This rule mostly relates to kickoffs and would theoretically make it easier to recover onside kicks (proposed by competition committee).
- Allow the replay official and designated members of the officiating department to provide certain objective information to the on-field officials. Basically, the replay official and people in the league's officiating department would be allowed to help correct a call before it actually goes to replay (proposed by Competition Committee, Coaches Subcommittee, and the Ravens).
- Add a loss of down for a second forward pass from behind the line and for a pass thrown after the ball returns behind the line. The Rams almost got burnt on a two-pass play by Tom Brady during the 2020 season and they don't want to see it happen again. (proposed by Rams).
- Ensure the enforcement of all accepted penalties committed by either team during successive extra point attempts. If a team gets penalized on an extra point, they can take the penalty at the 2-yard line OR 15-yard line. If they get penalized again, the penalty has to be enforced from wherever the first penalty was enforced, so if they had a false start on a 2-point conversion, they could have that enforced at the 2- or 15-yard line. If they had a second false start, they no longer get an option, it would be enforced from the spot of the first penalty (proposed by Bears).
- Expand jersey number options for certain positions. If this passes, the rule would allow running backs, linebackers and defensive backs to wear No. 1-19 and wide receivers could wear No. 1-19 (along with their normal 80-89). This rule has been proposed by the Chiefs.
- Implement a spot-and-choose overtime rule. Basically, one team would pick where the ball is spotted in overtime and then the second team would pick whether they want to play offense or defense. You can read more details on the rule by clicking here (proposed by Ravens).
- Instead of an onside kick, this rule proposal would allow a team to try to convert a fourth-and-15 play to retain possession of the ball. You can read more details on the rule by clicking here (proposed by Eagles).
- Playoff teams are not allowed to sign players who have been cut by teams that aren't in the playoffs (proposed by Competition Committee)
- Teams would be required to report tryouts and visits to the league office throughout the year (proposed by Competition Committee).
- To keep all teams and candidates on equal ground, interviews for head coaching or coordinator jobs can't be held until after the conference title games and you can't make any hirings until after the Super Bowl (proposed by Bills).
Rules that have been proposed by the competition committee generally have a better chance of passing, so it's almost a guarantee that a few of these will pass. The rule proposals will be discussed with coaches and general managers around the league in late April and then the owners will vote on any possible rule changes at their annual spring meeting in May.