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NFL Owners to review rule changes for 2018 at annual league meeting next week

Here are all the new proposals for review.

Los Angeles Rams Owner Stan Kroenke at the first game of the 2017 season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, September 10, 2017
Los Angeles Rams Owner Stan Kroenke at the first game of the 2017 season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, September 10, 2017
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While fans are focusing on free agency and the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, NFL owners have time blocked out over the next week to head to Orlando, Florida, for the NFL Annual League Meeting, March 25-28.

Up for consideration? Quite a bit.

Rule proposals

1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the playing rule that changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.

This one has been a year-to-year rule implementation. Time to make this one permanent.

2. By Competition Committee; Changes standard for a catch.

I doubt this makes things ironclad, but it should help. The new language centers around what constitutes a football move and eliminating the language that created the whole notion of completing the process of a catch while hitting the ground. The proposed language for the former reads:

performs any act common to the game (e.g., tuck the ball away, extend it towards or over the goal line or the line to gain, take an additional step, turn upfield, or avoid or ward off an opponent)

As for completing the catch, the following language which pertains to the current rules is proposed to be removed entirely:

A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

As NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron tweeted on Wednesday, these rule changes would have made the infamous ruling on Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant in the 2015 playoffs as well as the ruling on Pittsburgh Steelers TE Jesse James both a catch:

3. By Competition Committee; Makes the penalties for Illegal Batting & Kicking the same.

A technicality on missing language relating to illegally batting or punching the ball on a turnover.

4. By Los Angeles Chargers; Amends Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add fouls for roughing the passer and fouls against players in a defenseless posture as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.

Currently, the following fouls are reviewable:

  • Plays involving possession.
  • Plays involving touching of either the ball or the ground.
  • Plays governed by the goal line.
  • Plays governed by the boundary lines.
  • Plays governed by the line of scrimmage.
  • Plays governed by the line to gain.
  • Number of players on the field at the snap, even when a foul is not called.
  • Game administration: Penalty enforcement, proper down, spot of a foul, and status of the game clock.

This rule change would make those two additional fouls reviewable.

5. By Washington; Amends Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add review of personal fouls as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.

Would add any personal foul to the reviewable list.

6. By New York Jets; Amends Rule 8, Section 5, Articles 1-4 to change the enforcement for defensive pass interference.

This one turned heads when it was announced this week. Would make pass interference a 15-yard penalty regardless of where it was committed and where the line of scrimmage was just like the college football defensive PI rules.

7. By Competition Committee; Authorizes the designated member of the Officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant nonfootball act when a foul for that act is called on the field.

Allows the replay team to identify a flagrant foul to kick a player out. Is this too much power for the “officiating department?”

8. By Competition Committee; Conforms the amount of time in which a team must challenge a play if there is a television commercial break following the play in question.

Would use a 40-second clock in case a coach wants to challenge before a TV break so that they couldn’t use the whole break to decide.

9. By Competition Committee; Eliminates the requirement that a team who scores a winning touchdown at the end of regulation of a game to kick the extra point or go for two-point conversion.

Would get rid of the play after a game-winning TD.

10. By Competition Committee; If there is a turnover, a team may win an overtime game, even though it scores on its second possession.

A little confused by the second parameter of this one, but it would mean that if a team scores a field goal to open overtime and the second team doesn’t score, the game is over and the field goal-kicking team wins. Clumsily worded due to the potential for a turnover...but I’m still on board to just use the college overtime rules already and quit tinkering with this every year.

Bylaw proposals

1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the liberalization of rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility.

Allows more flexibility in testing prospects at NFL team sites heading into the draft.

2. By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.4 to liberalize the rule for reacquisition of a player assigned via waivers.

Would try a new waiver system for 2018 only. Allows more players to be assigned.

3. By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.6 to liberalize the procedures for players placed on Reserve/Retired.

Specific rules on players who return from reserve/retired list mid-season and if they change teams.

4. By Denver; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 to permit clubs to trade players from Reserve/Injured.

Would allow players on IR to be traded. Currently, this is prohibited.

5. By Miami; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.1 to remove the requirement that a non-vested player be placed on waivers to be removed from the 90-player roster prior to the roster reduction to 53 players.

Would remove a waivers technicality for players on IR during roster cuts.

6. By Minnesota; Amends Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to replace the 10-day postseason claiming period with a 24-hour period.

Would shift the waiver signing period at the end of the season to take place after the regular season instead of after the Super Bowl. Not sure I like this one.

7. By San Francisco, Arizona, and Los Angeles Chargers; Reduces the competitive equity that exists between teams who have morning body clock start times on long road trips.

Would be a big one for the Los Angeles Rams. Here’s the proposed language:

Without the consent of the affected clubs, no team will be scheduled to play more than three (3) away games with a scheduled kickoff time prior to 1:00pm in the time zone of their home stadium.

8. By Competition Committee; Permits coaches to review video displayed on League-issued tablets on the sidelines and in the coaches’ booth.

Sure. Not sure why this wasn’t done in the first place when the league started using Microsoft Surfaces...

9. By Competition Committee; A player who is designated for return is eligible to be activated after eight games, not eight weeks.

Would shift the reactivation from players on IR or the non-football injury list to eight games so as not to provide a disadvantage to those teams with a bye week in the latter half of the season. Seems fair.

10. By Competition Committee; Lengthens the period to execute an Injury Settlement from five business days to seven business days.

Ah, the semantics of NFL bylaws. Gotta love it!

11. By Competition Committee; Changes the deadline to reinstate players from certain Reserve List categories.

More semantics. Has to do with Thursday Night Football in Week 13 coming within 30 days of the season’s end.

12. By Competition Committee; Updates Reserve/Military List procedures to reflect the current League calendar.

The NFL Military Service List! Very important! Would suck to miss training camp because you have to report to basic training.

Resolution proposals

G-1. By Washington; Allows opposing teams to receive the League’s postgame responses to any officiating inquiries submitted by either team.

After a game, teams are allowed to question officiating to the league to get clarification on the application of the rules. Currently, the league sends their response to that team only. This would send the response to the opponent as well.

G-2. By San Francisco; Requires all NFL stadiums by 2021 to have three separate and permanent locker rooms to be exclusively designated for female football staff on game days as follows: game officials, home club staff members, and visiting club staff members.

Seems rational. With women now on coaching staffs and referees, they obviously need their own locker room.

G-4. By Competition Committee; Permits a club to negotiate and sign a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.

This one’s been coming for some time. Remember the Rams’ own head coaching effort a year ago and how the Atlanta Falcons’ postseason schedule prevented Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan from interviewing during their run? This would allow teams to negotiate with a new head coach and agree to a contract before the playoffs are even done.

G-5. By Competition Committee; For one year only, permits an interested club to contact a Vested Veteran before clubs have been notified of the player’s termination via the Player Personnel Notice if (i) the players is not subject to the Waivers System and, (ii) the employer club has publicly announced the player’s release.

Has to do with players being released and having it made public before the official personnel notice.

We’ll see which of these the league adopts for the 2018 season at the meeting as owners are scheduled to arrive on Sunday.