NFL owners approved all six proposed rule changes at the annual league meeting in Phoenix, said Mike Signora, the league’s vice president of football communications.
Here’s a breakdown of the new rules:
1. If a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box, the player who used the crown of his helmet will receive a 15-yard penalty. Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler would not be a penalty. The league’s competition committee showed a video this week of Browns running back Trent Richardson’s bone-jarring hit on Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman to illustrate a violation of the new rule. Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said Richardson would be penalized and fined for the delivering the same blow under the new rule. The rule passed 31-1. The Cincinnati Bengals were the only team to vote against it.
2. The tuck rule has been eliminated. Under the tuck rule, a passer in the act of bringing the ball down into his body rather than throwing it could lose control without a fumble being called. Now a fumble will be called if a passer loses the ball while trying to tuck it.
3. If a coach throws his challenge flag for a play that would have been automatically reviewed — such as a touchdown or a turnover — the play will still be reviewable. Under the old rule, the use of replay would be negated if a coach challenged when he wasn’t supposed to. Now the punishment for making a forbidden challenge will cost the challenging team a timeout. If the team has no timeouts, it will receive a 15-yard penalty. Either way, the play will still be reviewable.
4. On field goals and extra points, teams will no longer be allowed to line up more than six players on either side of the snapper, who is now deemed as a defenseless player and receives helmet-to-helmet protection. The defenders will no longer be allowed to push their teammates through the gaps.
5. Offensive players will no longer be permitted to block low when facing their own end zones inside the tackle box. The new rule prohibits peel-back blocks anywhere on the field.
6. Tight ends and H-backs are now allowed to wear jersey Nos. 40-49.
Two of the three proposed bylaws also passed.
Teams will be permitted to keep players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list through Week 11 instead of Week 9. If a team claims a player off waivers, it will only be required to keep him for one day instead of two days.
One proposed bylaw was tabled. It’s a proposal for final roster cuts to be made on a Friday night as opposed to a Saturday.