Updates from Wednesday, March 26
Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network have the latest on potentially expanding the playoffs:
Goodell says "there's tremendous amount of interest" in expanding NFL playoffs. "We still want to do some additional work" on that front.— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 26, 2014
Goodell says he wouldn’t rule out expanding the playoffs for 2014, but it doesn’t sound like the direction they’re heading. 2015 maybe.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 26, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, March 25
Paul Pabst of The Dan Patrick Show had the latest on a rule change regarding celebrations next season:
NFL Head of Officials Dean Blandino told @dpshow that dunking the ball over the goal posts will be a penalty next season.— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) March 25, 2014
Just in. The NFL will not allow dunking the ball over the goal post next season. It will be a penalty. Cannot use the ball as a prop.— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) March 25, 2014
Judy Battista of NFL.com had more on rule changes surrounding field goals surrounding the uprights of the goal posts:
The Patriots' proposal to extend the uprights by 5 feet seems likely to be approved tomorrow according to an NFL source.— Judy Battista (@judybattista) March 25, 2014
Updates from Monday, March 24
Albert Breer of NFL.com provides insight into one of the hot-button issues expected to be discussed at this year's NFL owners meeting:
A few big business measures will be discussed, but not voted on, at the Orlando meeting. One is the potential of a 4th London game in '15.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 24, 2014
NFL owners, executives and coaches will descend on Orlando, Fla., for four days this March to discuss the state of the league and potential changes for the future.
The spring meetings kick off Sunday and continue through Wednesday. Over that time, a variety of topics will be discussed and voted on, including the possibility of playoff expansion and potential rule changes.
Here, we'll track some of the latest news and rumors surrounding the annual offseason event.
What to Watch For
|Rule Change Proposal||Proposed By|
|Move kickoff to 40-yard line||Washington Redskins|
|Make personal foul penalties reviewable||Washington Redskins|
|Eliminate overtime in preseason games||Washington Redskins|
|Extend the goal posts an additional five feet above the cross bar||New England Patriots|
|Move the line of scrimmage on the point-after-attempt to the 25-yard line (does not apply to two-point conversions)||New England Patriots|
|Put six cameras on all boundary lines: Sideline, goal line, end line, for replay reviews||New England Patriots|
|Allow everything other than scoring plays and turnovers to be challenged||New England Patriots|
|Make rolling up on the side of a player's leg illegal||Competition Committee|
|Allowing officials to consult with officiating department during reviews||Competition Committee|
|Expanding instant replay to include recovery of a loose ball in field of play||Competition Committee|
|Allowing game clock to run after QB sack outside of 2-minute warning in 1st and 2nd half||Competition Committee|
|Modify pass interference so that it can be called within one yard of the line of scrimmage, not just one-yard and beyond||Competition Committee|
|Bylaw Proposal||Proposed By|
|Increase the game-day roster limit to 49 players for Thursday games after opening weekend||Washington Redskins|
|Raise the practice squad limit from eight players to 10||Washington Redskins|
|Allow teams to trade players prior to the start of the league year||Washington Redskins|
|Eliminate the roster cutdown from 90 to 75 players during preseason, 90 to 53 instead||Washington Redskins|
|Allow more than one player to return from injured reserve during the season||Washington Redskins|
|Allow teams to time and test up to 10 Combine prospects at their facility||Philadelphia Eagles|
ESPN's Mike Reiss
Several NFL teams in addition to the competition committee have crafted proposals that will be discussed and voted on over the four scheduled days in Florida.
None of the proposed rule changes and bylaws up for debate would overhaul the NFL's product but could result in notable changes in the coming years. Replay and the coaches challenge are two of the major topics heading into the spring meetings and could possibly undergo significant change if the majority of owners can agree. Such changes would definitely impact how the game is officiated.
Other proposals like kicking off from the 40-yard line and moving extra-point attempts back to the 25-yard line could change how the game is played. Kickoff return specialists would be rendered obsolete, and two-point conversions may become more attractive in sloppy conditions.
Still, three-fourths of the owners will have to agree on these proposals in order for them to become reality.
Expanded Postseason off the Table for Now?
According to The Washington Post's Mark Maske, a source familiar with this spring's NFL owners meetings says owners aren't expected to vote on expanding the 12-team playoff field for the 2015 season.
The league has yet to confirm or deny whether owners will vote on the issue this week; however, it's clear that NFL higher-ups will be discussing the potential change throughout their time in Orlando.
Maske reports that it appears "highly likely" that the league will add two more playoff teams ahead of the 2015 season. He cites the competition committee's efforts and growing league-wide support as the biggest reason why expansion appears likely.
If approved, the field would most likely expand to include 14 teams instead of 12, per Maske:
Expanding the playoff field would enable the league to increase its television revenues, with a previous proposal by the owners to achieve the same result—lengthening the regular season to 18 games per team—apparently all but abandoned because of strong opposition by the players’ union. Under the expanded-playoffs proposal, seven teams in each conference would qualify for the postseason instead of the current six. Only one team in each conference would receive a first-round playoff bye and there would be six first-round games league-wide instead of the current four. One of those games could be played on a Monday night.
Had the expansion plan been adopted prior to last season, the 10-6 Arizona Cardinals and 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers would have qualified for the 2014 NFL playoffs from the NFC and AFC, respectively.
Challenge Flag, Replay Review Among Potential Changes
Owners will vote on several issues this March, including a challenge-flag rule change and replay-review communication.
According to KCChiefs.com's Reid Ferrin, the current proposal regarding the challenge flag would allow coaches to challenge any and all calls. Such a change would not apply to scoring plays, however, as those are automatically reviewed.
As of right now, there are still certain plays and calls that coaches aren't allowed to challenge.
I understand that judgment calls are judgment calls, but to say that an important play can't be reviewed, I don’t think that's really in the spirit of trying to get everything right and making sure the most important plays are officiated properly. If you get a situation where they call a guy for being offside, and you don’t think he was offside and you’re willing to use one of your challenges on that to let them go back and take a look at it — I understand if the evidence isn't conclusive that the call stands. If it is (conclusive) then they'd overturn it. If it's offensive holding, if you think one of the offensive linemen tackles your guy as he's rushing the quarterback, and the ball hasn't been thrown, they go back and look at it and if it's that egregious of a violation they would make a call. If it wasn't, they wouldn't. We have to live with that anyway but now it's only on certain plays and certain situations.
On the other hand, the replay-review discussion will center on whether to allow officials to consult with the league's officiating department in New York during games to improve the speed and accuracy of tough calls.
Another rule change proposal will be eliminating preseason overtime. If the proposal is approved by owners, preseason games tied after the fourth quarter would be chalked up as a tie and there would be no overtime period to decide a winner.
NBC Sports Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith says that doing away with overtime in the preseason would be "one small step toward acknowledging that those exhibition games don't matter anyway."
Keep in mind that rule changes must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 team owners (75 percent).
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