NFL Rule Changes for 2021 Season Proposed, Including Expanded Video Review

Adam WellsApril 1, 2021

An official uses the instant replay booth to review a play during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

NFL owners will have the opportunity to vote on six proposed rule changes for the 2021 season, including expanded use of video replay review. 

Per the NFL Football Operations Department, the Baltimore Ravens proposed adding an eighth replay official who is not on the field but has access to a monitor and can coordinate with the on-field crew for reviews. 

Other notable changes proposed include creating a true sudden-death overtime format by changing the options for a team that wins the overtime coin toss and permitting a team to maintain possession after a score by substituting one offensive playโ€”a 4th-and-15 from the kicking team's own 25-yard lineโ€”for an onside kick. 

The competition committee proposed permitting the replay official and designated members of the officiating department to provide certain objective information to the on-field officials during video reviews. 

ESPN's Kevin Seifert noted the competition committee's proposal falls "well short" of the increased calls for an eighth replay official, but it "would give referees a new resource to help make accurate calls without needing a formal review."

Seifert added that the proposal would give replay officials and members of the NFL officiating department the authority "to advise on possession, a completed or intercepted pass, whether a player is down by contact and the position of the ball relative to a line or boundary."

The competition committee has also proposed eliminating the overtime period for preseason games and expanding the ban on blocking below the waist "when contact occurs beyond five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage and more than two yards outside of either offensive tackle."

All of the rule changes will be voted on during the owner's meetings later this offseason. 

In order for a rule to pass, it must receive approval from 75 percent of the league's 32 team owners.