The NFL held its league meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, and owners voted on potential changes for the upcoming season. Among the proposals were shortening overtime, expanding injured reserve rules and softening celebration penalties.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced changes to the way touchdown celebrations are penalized, but that wasn’t the only adjustment the league made. A total of four major changes were approved involving rosters and overtime periods.
USA TODAY SportsLogan Bowles
Celebration penalty adjustments
The biggest change the league announced Tuesday was that celebration penalties would be relaxed. Goodell put out a statement himself explaining the softer restrictions, which now allow players to celebrate as a group, use the football as a prop and go to the ground for things such as snow angels. Previously, these types of demonstrations resulted in penalties.
“Today, we are excited to tell you about another change that comes after conversations with more than 80 current and former players: We are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays,” Goodell said.
Players are still barred from prolonged celebrations, those directed at an opponent and suggestive acts, but this is certainly a step toward making the league a little more fun.
10-minute overtime periods
The NFL is officially shortening preseason and regular-season overtime periods to 10 minutes – down from 15. Playoff overtime periods will remain the standard 15-minute length, but the goal of this change is to cut down on the number of snaps teams play before having to turn around and play another game in a week, or even four days.
This change was pitched earlier this offseason at the annual league meetings, but it was tabled until a later date and passed by owners Tuesday. This will likely result in more ties, but it will also lead to clearer playoff pictures with fewer obscure tiebreakers in the final weeks.
75-man cutdown eliminated
Teams are limited to 90-man rosters for much of the offseason, but before the regular season begins, they’re required to get down to 53 players. Typically, there’s a cutdown day in between those benchmarks, going from 90 to 75 players.
However, on Tuesday, the league eliminated the 75-man cut, forcing teams to go directly from 90 players to 53. This will allow clubs to keep players on the roster for longer, giving them a better look at certain guys during training camp and the preseason.
It also means about 1,100 players will lose their jobs on the same day, resulting in a significantly larger number of transactions when teams are required to get down to regular-season 53-man rosters.
Two short-term IR spots
The NFL made a subtle change to injured reserve last year by allowing teams to declare which player would be designated to return after the fact, rather than having to do so when he was placed on IR. It was a welcome change, making it easier for coaches and training staffs to determine which players would actually be ready to return after the minimum eight-week timetable.
Now, the NFL is adding a second short-term IR spot, giving teams the chance to activate another player from injured reserve during the season. So for instance, if two star players are placed on injured reserve, the team can now activate both after eight weeks, rather than having to choose between the two.
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