The NFL offseason often brings change as, in addition to the draft and free agency, the competition committee and individual teams propose rule changes to modify the game before each season. This year, 11 total rule changes were proposed and today we have seen multiple of those proposals pass.
Amongst the rule changes that passed were Chicago’s point-after-touchdown proposal, the Los Angeles Rams’ double forward pass proposal, and Kansas City’s jersey number expansion proposal. The specifics of each of them were shared by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated:
Here are the Chiefs', Rams', and Bears' rules proposals that were passed today by the league. Again, the OT modifications failed (though the rule eliminating preseason overtime passed). pic.twitter.com/UliXkBxsNk— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 21, 2021
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network has also reported that the competition committee’s proposal to expand booth-to-official communication and proposal to eliminate preseason overtime were both passed by teams.
As expected, teams also approved the competition committee’s proposal for expanded booth-to-official communication, per source. A popular change that should lead to fewer errors with objective calls that are clear on TV such as possession, complete/incomplete, etc.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 21, 2021
Also passed: No more preseason overtime.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 21, 2021
We have also found out that, in an effort to make onside kicks easier to recover, the NFL owners approved of an experimental rule that would limit the receiving team to have only nine players within 25 yards of the kickoff point, a reduction from the previous limit of 10 players.
The full list of rule changes looks like this:
1. By Competition Committee; to amend Rule 16, to eliminate overtime in the preseason.
2. By Competition Committee; to amend Rule 6, Section 1, Article 3, for one year only, to establish a maximum number of players in the setup zone.
4. By Competition Committee, Coaches Subcommittee, and Baltimore; to amend Rule 15, Section 3, Article 9, and Rule 19, Section 2, to permit the Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating department to provide certain objective information to the on-field officials.
5. By Chicago; to amend Rule 11, Section 3, Article 3, to ensure the enforcement of all accepted penalties committed by either team during successive Try attempts.
6. By Los Angeles Rams; to amend Rule 8, Section 1, Article 2, to add a loss of down for a second forward pass from behind the line and for a pass thrown after the ball returns behind the line.
7. By Kansas City Chiefs; to amend Rule 5, Section 1, Article 2, to expand jersey number options for certain positions.
Though it won’t result in a change to the on-field product, the rule change that has gotten the most attention is the number expansion.
Under the new rules, quarterbacks, kickers, and punters will be eligible to wear numbers 1-19. Running backs, Tight ends, and wide receivers will be able to wear numbers 1-49 and 80-89. Defensive backs can wear numbers 1-49, linebackers can wear numbers 1-59 and 90-99, Offensive linemen can wear numbers 50-79 and defensive linemen can wear numbers 50-79 and 90-99.
Given the similarity to NCAA number rules, many have mentioned the potential of players reverting back to their old college numbers, the New England Patriots’ team account even got in on the fun.
If the jersey number rule changed… pic.twitter.com/0XAh0BzAfe— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 7, 2021
Something important to note however, is the fact that we may not see players change jersey numbers until next season; as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert pointed out, they’ll have to pay for it.
Per NFL rules, if a player wants to change his number THIS SEASON, he would have to buy out the existing inventory of jersey distributors.— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) April 21, 2021
If he wants to give notice now to change his number NEXT SEASON, there would be no requirement to buy out inventory. https://t.co/XvduiMgSw3
Rookies and other first year players with any respective team will however be free to choose from the new numbers under their designated position.
Who do you want to see rocking a new number? Let us know in the comments below!