Eagles' 4th-and-15 Onside Kick Alternative Among Proposed NFL Rule Changes

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 10, 2020

Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker (6) kicks an onside kick during an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

Four NFL teams have brought forth seven proposed rule changes for the league to consider implementing in the 2020 season.

The most significant rule proposal, from the Philadelphia Eagles, includes an alternative to the onside kick that would give the trailing team possession of the ball after scoring and a 4th-and-15 from its own 25-yard line:

NFL Football Operations @NFLFootballOps

Here’s a look at the 2020 rules change proposals submitted by the clubs: https://t.co/Wkwst9sraf https://t.co/mTm5YTk86P

Per ESPN's Kevin Seifert, the proposals have not yet been endorsed by the competition committee.

The onside kick proposal is a modification of a rule the NFL used for the Pro Bowl in January.

Teams had the option of running one additional play from their own 25-yard line after scoring. If the team gained 15 or more yards on the play, it would retain possession. If it didn't pick up enough yardage, the opposing team would get possession from the dead-ball spot.

The NFC used the rule late in the fourth quarter after a touchdown cut its deficit to 38-33. Kirk Cousins' pass intended for Kenny Golladay was intercepted by Earl Thomas III and allowed the AFC to run out the clock.

The Eagles also proposed returning overtime periods to 15 minutes and changing rules to "minimize the impact of the overtime coin toss." The NFL shortened overtime to 10 minutes beginning with the 2017 season as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the risk of player injuries.

Since the 2012 regular season, overtime rules state both teams get at least one possession unless the first team scores a touchdown on the opening drive.

That rule has come under scrutiny in the past two years. The Kansas City Chiefs lost the 2018 AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots, while the New Orleans Saints lost in the NFC Wild Card Round to the Minnesota Vikings last year, both because the winning team scored a touchdown on the first possession of overtime.

The Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens jointly proposed adding a booth umpire to increase the size of officiating crews from seven to eight. Current officiating roles in NFL games include a referee, umpire, down judge, line judge, field judge, back judge and side judge.

If the NFL's competition committee endorses the proposed rule changes, they will be presented to the owners for a vote at the annual league meeting that will be held from March 29 to April 1.