NFL owners will meet for the next three days to discuss the business of the league and potential rules changes for 2012. This series of meetings, scheduled for today through Wednesday, will have more than a passing impact on the game moving forward. There are several issues to be discussed. Among the topics that could potentially change the NFL landscape on this week’s agenda:
Changing the trade deadline. This is an idea that makes sense. In other sports, trade deadlines run late into the season, allowing those teams that have no shot at making the postseason to trade players with expiring contracts for future prospects. Pushing the deadline back could result in teams that are hopelessly out of contention a better opportunity to trade players to contenders in exchange for future draft picks. The current trade deadline is Week 6, where even teams with 2-4 or 1-5 records are convinced they still have a shot at making the postseason. A proposal will be discussed to back the date up to Week 8, which would help decide which teams are out of the running. Given the fast turnover from the “haves” to “have nots,” moving the trade deadline to midseason would promote more player movement at the deadline than the near-nonexistent nature it has now.
Adding Ten More Players. As things currently stand, teams can have up to 80 players on their offseason roster. A proposal will be discussed to increase the number to 90 players. Owners have been resistant to adding 10 more players to rosters because of the financial/medical implications, but it’s a proposal being pushed by the players association and several team decision-makers. If approved, the rosters would have to be scaled back to 80 after the third preseason game and the standard 53-man final roster rules would still apply. There will be some question as to how an extra 10 free agents would impact the salary cap, so this one is up in the air.
Taking away the Giants gambit. In the Super Bowl, in the waning seconds, the Giants were penalized five yards for having 12 men on the field defensively. But the Patriots lost five seconds on the clock running the play and, in hindsight, so many analysts said that, if was intentional, it was a brilliant ploy late in the game. The rules change proposal would dip into the college rulebook, make the play a dead ball penalty and stop the play after the ball is snapped and the flag is thrown, much in the same way the clock stops on a false start immediately before a snap.
Shifting overtime rules. Perhaps thanks to the Vikings missing out on the Super Bowl without touching the ball in overtime, the NFL changed the playoff rules to include that, if the team that wins the toss scores a field goal on its first drive of OT, the other team gets at least one chance to possess the ball. The owners will discuss potentially expanding the rule to the regular season. The players association has endorsed the expansion of the OT rule, which may go a long way toward its passage as owners try to find some post-lockout harmony with the players.
Adding to replay. The NFL adopted a plan to review all scoring plays to assure that points were scored. Now a proposal has come forth to review all changes of possessions, which could drastically reduce the number of red-flag coaching challenges, since many of them come on changes of possession. This one would keep the coaching challenges in place, but the next one might kill it off if approved.
Changing replay … again. The owners installed replay years ago and, for the first few years, had a replay official – typically a retired field official in a room with access to replays from every angle available. After opposition to an official not involved at field level being in charge of disputing calls made in real time, the move was made to turn the head referee into judge and jury (inside a peep show booth) to make the call. A proposal forwarded by the Buffalo Bills would ask that replays be referred back to a booth review official to speed up the delays in the current system. There isn’t a groundswell of support behind it, so this one may have a difficult time passing.
I.R. won’t always mean all year. Under the current rules, if a player is placed on injured reserve, he is lost for the entire season. A proposal being floated would allow a team to place one player per season on an eight-week injured-reserve list – allowing a star player who gets injured early in the season to be placed on the modified I.R. for eight games and potentially return later in the season. As things stand, injured players with a chance to return must either stay on the 53-man roster or be placed on injured reserve, which often leads to hopeful teams keeping a player on the roster for a month or two only to put him on I.R. weeks after he sustains his injury and his roster spot can be replaced.
Concussion concessions. The league has become forward-thinking in terms of dealing with concussions and a proposal is being brought to the table to allow players specifically diagnosed with concussions to be ruled inactive two days before the team’s game (when the final injury reports are submitted) and another player can be signed – whether from the practice squad or the outside. Given the attention being paid to concussions, this one could well pass without much opposition.
Big Ben just won’t go down rule. NFL quarterbacks have unprecedented protection, but one area in which they don’t have immunity is when they’re in the pocket and a defender makes a horse-collar tackle. Most times when it happens, a defender is engaged with a blocker and reaches over him to grab the QB. Apparently, it has happened too often to Ben Roethisberger, because the Steelers are proposing the change to include penalties for horse-collar tackles on quarterbacks in the pocket.
Having a Palm Beach owners meeting at the height of spring break would seemingly have the potential of Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones getting pinched for dropping water bombs from their hotel room. But it would appear that the three days aren’t going to be spent on the golf courses or smoking Cuban cigars. There’s actual work to be done that will get done – one way or another.
Last weekend, we commented on the swiftness in which the NFL was promoting Tim Tebow Jets jerseys on its official website. Now it makes more sense. The jerseys in question are Reebok jerseys. On April 3, the NFL jersey contract goes to Nike and Reebok will be out of the jersey making business for the NFL for the duration of the pending Nike contract. Reebok is hoping to cash in while they still can, even though Tebow won’t be wearing a Reebok Jets jersey.
As NFL war rooms sweat out picks in each round of the draft, hoping a player they covet won’t go away, they all got one pick closer at the end of the second round and into the third, where the Vikings will be primed to make an early selection. With the forfeiture of the Saints’ second-round pick, every subsequent picks moves up one spot.
Compensatory picks are expected to be awarded at the owners meetings, either today or Tuesday, and the Vikings are expecting to have two additional fourth-round picks for the free-agent losses of Ray Edwards and Sidney Rice last year.