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Analyzing the proposed rule changes and proposals for the 2017 NFL season

The annual NFL league meetings are about to ensue in Arizona this week, and we take a look at what is being proposed as changes for this season.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year-Fan Forum John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Every year the NFL competition committee gets together and they consider ways to make the game better, via rule changes. The competition committee consists of NFL head coaches and front office executives, including Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, have proposed several rule changes for the upcoming league year.

Take a look at the reported proposals, via the Steelers official website:

  • Make permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
  • Change the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
  • Reduce the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes.
  • Expand the defenseless player rule, giving a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.
  • Make crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
  • Replace the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorize designated members of the officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
  • Make it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
  • Make actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

The league continues to focus their magnifying glass on the minute details of the game, all in an attempt to make the game better. It is clear, after looking at the above list, the general focus continues to be on player safety, and rightfully so.

Prohibiting crack back blocks and protecting wide receivers while running a route are certainly ways of helping to keep player safety at the forefront, but the other clear focuses for this year is the speed of the game, and helping to keep play honest by making illegal ways of delaying the game at key junctures of the contest.

These are just the proposals, and many of them may not be accepted by the NFL, but there is a strong chance these proposals become league rules by the time the 2017 NFL Preseason gets underway.

But wait, there is more.

There were proposals by several NFL teams to improve specific areas of the game.

  • By Philadelphia: Provides additional protection for long snappers on kick plays.
  • By Philadelphia: Bans the “leap” block on field goal and extra point plays.
  • By Philadelphia: Expands restriction for contact with helmet by runners and tacklers.
  • By Washington: Eliminates the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two instant replay challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge. Eliminates the limit of three total challenges per team per game.
  • By Washington: Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.
  • By Buffalo and Seattle: Permits a coach to challenge any officials’ decision except scoring plays and turnovers. The change would also simplify the replay rules.

Then there are the bylaw proposals:

  • By Washington: Eliminates the mandatory cutdown to 75 Active List players.
  • By Washington: Permits a player who has suffered a concussion and who has not been cleared to be placed on the club’s Exempt List and replaced by another player on a game-by-game basis until the player is cleared.
  • By Washington: Permits clubs to opt out of the “color rush” jerseys created for Thursday Night Football.
  • By Competition Committee: Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only.
  • By Competition Committee: Change the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.
  • By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a personnel notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

The final aspect are for three resolution proposals. They are as follows:

  • By Philadelphia: Amends the NFL’s on-field policy to allow clubs to have an alternate helmet in a color to match their third uniform.
  • By Competition Committee: Permits a club to negotiate and reach an agreement with a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.
  • By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.

What do you think about the rules and proposals? What would you keep? What would you discard?