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11 proposals for 2021 rules changes on the table

11 proposed rules changes will be considered this offseason by NFL owners at the annual league meeting.



The NFL has released the rules change proposals from the Competition Committee and NFL teams for the 2021 annual league meeting. League owners will vote on the rules change proposals to determine if they will be implemented in the playing rules for the upcoming NFL season. A brief summary of each is listed below, indicating the team that proposed it.

Rules changes regarding officiating have again been proposed. The Competition Committee has proposed a rules change to allow the replay official in the stadium, as well as league officiating personnel in the New York office, to assist the crews in real-time regarding objective calls and game administration. Baltimore has also proposed the addition of an eighth official to the crew, which they proposed last offseason to no avail. This eighth official will have duties similar to the SkyJudge of the former Alliance of American Football, and be off the field with access to a television and full communication with the on-field crew.

Generally, proposals submitted by the Competition Committee pass easily, while team proposals have a more difficult time being accepted. With some drastic changes being proposed this season, it will be up to NFL owners to decide which new rules will be in place for the 2021 season.

Playing rules proposals submitted by the Competition Committee

  1. Eliminate overtime in the preseason
  2. For one year only, limit kickoff receiving team to 9 players in the “setup zone”, the 15-yard area from the kicking team’s 45-yard line to the receiving team’s 40-yard line
  3. Expand illegal low blocks beyond a new “tight end box”, a five-yard zone on either side of the line of scrimmage, and between two yards outside of the offensive tackles
  4. Allow the replay official and designated personnel at Art McNally Gameday Central to assist the on-field officials with objective or administrative calls or issues

Playing rules proposals submitted by teams

  1. Allow “stacking” of multiple fouls on consecutive try attempts in the event of a team switching from a kick to a scrimmage down after a penalty, and vice versa (CHI)
  2. Make a double forward pass a loss of down in addition to a 5 yard penalty (LAR)
  3. Expand the uniform numbering system (KC)
  4. Change overtime coin toss options to “spot or possession”, where a team can choose the spot of the first overtime play or take first possession, and revert overtime to sudden death (BAL-PHI)
  5. Change overtime coin toss options to “spot or possession”, remove all sudden death rules to allow the full overtime period to be played, where the team with the most points at the conclusion of overtime wins, and eliminate overtime in the preseason (BAL)
  6. Create an alternative to the onside kick, where the scoring team can attempt a 4th and 15 play from their own 25-yard line to maintain possession (PHI)
  7. Add a “booth umpire” as an eighth member of the officiating crew, in a manner similar to the now defunct-AAF SkyJudge (BAL)

In addition, there were two bylaws changes and one resolution proposed.

Bylaws revision proposals

  1. Prevent playoff teams from picking up players cut from nonplayoff teams (Competition Committee)
  2. Limit the amount of tryouts and require teams to submit offseason tryout information to the league (Competition Committee)

Proposed resolution

  1. For one year only, teams may not interview for head coach or coordinator positions until the day after the Conference Championships, and no hire may be made prior to the Super Bowl (BUF)

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist and has been involved in football officiating for 12 years. Cam is in his fourth season as a high school football official. This is his ninth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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