Back in 2018, the NFL's 32 owners voted to implement NFL teams combined to recover just 7.69% of all onside kicks (four out of 52). This season, things have actually been worse, as teams have combined to recover just 6.25% of all onside kicks (two out of 32). To put that in perspective, in the five years before the rule change, the onside recovery rate never fell below 13%.that ended up having one major unintended side effect -- the new rules basically killed the onside kick. Since the new rules went into effect, it's become almost impossible to recover an onside kick. During the 2018 season,
To add some excitement to the onside kick, it appears that the NFL's owners are going to reconsider a rule that was at the Annual League Meeting. According to the Washington Post, the league is going to revisit the possibility of implementing a pretty wild rule that was proposed by the Broncos earlier this year.
Basically, the rule would allow teams to try and convert a fourth-and-15 play from their own 35-yard line, instead of attempting an onside kick. If they get the 15 yards, the team would get a first down and keep possession of the ball. If they don't get the 15 yards, the other team would take over possession from wherever the play ended.
The original rule proposal came with several stipulations, including the fact that the fourth-down play could only be attempted once per game and that the one attempt could only come in the fourth quarter. The play could be attempted after any score, including a touchdown or a field goal. A team could also attempt the fourth-and-15 after giving up a safety. Regular onside kicks could still be attempted at any point in the game as well.
If you're wondering how exactly the play would be officiated, all normal rules would apply, so if a defense got called for defensive holding, the five-yard penalty would result in an automatic first down for the offense. Also, if the offense got penalized, they wouldn't be allowed to then kickoff after the penalty is enforced. They'd have to run a fourth-down play from their new line of scrimmage.
Although the rule got shot down by owners in March, there's definitely a possibility that it could get approved this time around. For one, the NFL's competition committee seems to like the rule. The committee actually voted 7-1 in favor of the proposal back in March, and they could try to push it through again. The other reason the NFL could approve the rule is to spice up the fourth quarter of pretty much every game being played. Since onside kick recoveries have become basically impossible, this would give trailing teams a viable way to make a comeback.
For the rule to pass, 24 of the NFL's 32 owners would have to vote on it at the next Annual League Meeting, which is scheduled to be held March 29-April 1 in Palm Beach, Florida.