A Breakdown Of The NFL's New Rules, And The Ones That Didn't Pass

At the NFL meetings in Orlando, the league's owners voted on a number of proposals. The highlight: it looks like we're closer to longer, harder PATs. Here's a rundown of the NFL's rule changes, and the ones that didn't quite make it.

Proposals passed:

  • Officials can now use replay review to rule on loose ball recoveries—the so-called "NaVorro Bowman" rule, so dubbed after the 49ers were unable to challenge an obvious Niners fumble recovery in the NFC Championship that the refs awarded to the Seahawks.
  • The goalpost uprights will be extended five feet higher, to reduce the instances of a kick sailing above the upright and leaving it to the officials' judgment.
  • The game clock will no longer stop when a quarterback is sacked.
  • "Roll up blocks," where a blocker hits the side of the knee of a player, are banned.
  • Officials will now be able to speak wirelessly with each other, and with the central replay office.
  • While not a new rule, the existing rule forbidding the use of the ball as a prop during TD celebrations will be extended to ban dunking the ball over the crossbar.

Proposals tabled for further review:

  • Though a proposal to move the line of scrimmage on PATs to the 25 was officially tabled, there will be a change. For the first two weeks of the preseason, extra point tries will be snapped from the 20, making it roughly a 38-yard kick. (Historical data says to expect a success rate in the high 80s.) The league will monitor the results, and presumably vote on changing the rule at next year's meetings.
  • A proposal to do away with overtime in preseason games and let them end in ties.
  • A proposal to add six boundary-line cameras at every game to make replay reviews more conclusive. (This was the one where Bill Belichick joked that the NFL needs to hold a bake sale if they can't afford the cameras.)

Proposals voted down:

  • Owners voted against moving the kickoff from the 35-yard-line to the 40.
  • Owners voted against a proposal that would have made every play challengeable by coaches.
  • Owners voted against allowing officials to use replay to review personal foul penalty calls.

In addition to the rules, owners voted on seven bylaws, mostly relating to roster moves. The only one that passed was a bylaw moving up the deadline for final preseason cuts by two hours.

Among the bylaws tabled were one that would expand roster sizes for Thursday night games, and one that would allow teams in retractable domes to open or close their roofs at halftime of a game. This last one was proposed by Colts owner Jim Irsay, and the league had already indicated it would not vote on it with him absent.