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New NFL rule proposals include onside kick alternative, addition of ‘booth umpire’

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A look at the 2020 NFL rule change proposals.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Thursday, NFL teams receiving an updated list of new rule change proposals for the 2020 NFL season. At this point in time, these potential rule changes are merely proposals. Next week, teams will have a virtual meeting to discuss these rule changes and potentially adopt them for the upcoming season.

So what is on the docket? Here’s the list of rule change proposals:

  • Make permanent the expansion of automatic replay to include scoring plays or turnovers negated by penalties (proposed by Eagles)
  • Provide an alternative option to the onside kick: A fourth-and-15 play from the team’s own 25-yard line. Teams would still be able to onside kick if they’d choose, but this alternate option is available to use twice a game, and only if trailing. (proposed by Eagles)
  • Give the defense an option to start the game clock on referee’s signal following a declined penalty on the offense late in either half. (proposed by Dolphins)
  • Add a “booth umpire” to the officiating crew for each game. (Proposed by Ravens/Chargers)
  • Add a Senior Technology Advisor to the officiating crew. (Proposed by Ravens/Chargers)
  • Expand defenseless player protection to the punt/kickoff returner who was not given ample time to avoid contact from an opponent. (Proposed by Competition Committee)
  • Prevent team from manipulating game clock by intentionally committing multiple penalties while clock is running.

The two changes that will likely draw the most attention is the onside kick proposal, which NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero believes is starting to gain traction as onside kick success rates continue to be extremely low, and the addition of a booth umpire.

The final proposal is also interesting, seeing as last year we saw Mike Vrabel try to bleed clock against the Patriots during a playoff game.

We’ll have to see next week if the league adopts any of these new proposals.

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