One of the many uses for the NFL Annual Meeting is for the league to hear all 32 teams' playing rules, bylaws, and resolution proposals and then decide which ones will be ratified ahead of the upcoming season. On Tuesday at this year's meeting in Phoenix, 17 playing rules, three bylaws, and three resolutions were approved. Here's what they were as well as a look at what hit the cutting room floor ahead of the 2023 season.
2023 approved playing rules
- Amendment to Rule 5, Section 1, Article 2, proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles
Rule change: Players can use zero ("0") as a jersey number; kickers and punters can use any jersey number between 0-49 and 90-99.
- Amendment to Rule 4, Section 6, Article 3 and Section 7, Article 4, proposed by the Los Angeles Chargers
Rule change: Referees will adjust play clock following an instant replay reversal the same way they do following other stoppages. Before, players would have to signal back to the officials to request more time on the play clock in such situations.
- Amendment to Rule 15, Section 1, Article 2, proposed by the Houston Texans
Rule change: The replay official can automatically review a close play on a failed fourth-down attempt. This will save team's a challenge if it's a close call on fourth down. The rule change may speed up the game since the replay official can review the play immediately.
- To change the definition of a launch, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: A launch, which is a personal foul (15-yard penalty), is now if a player leaves one or both feet to make a tackle.
- To make tripping a personal foul, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: If a player is called for tripping, the penalty will result in 15 yards and an automatic first down.
- To make handing the football forward a penalty like an illegal forward pass, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: This will penalize teams handing off the football forward on a read-option, for example, or any other running play a penalty. Handoffs will have to be made next to or behind the quarterback, not in front of.
- To make the penalty for illegal punts, drop kicks, or place kicks the same as an illegal forward pass, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: This will make those acts listed above count for a loss of a down at the spot of the foul, just like an illegal forward pass.
- To prevent the offense from benefitting with an extra play at the end of half because of an offensive penalty, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: For example, if the offense commits a holding penalty, that will no longer lead to an untimed, additional down.
- To clarify the use of a helmet against an opponent, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: Removes the words the "butt, ram, and spear" from Article 8 and adds those actions into the penalty for "Impermissible Use of the Helmet."
2023 approved bylaws
- To change the claiming period to Monday for players who are waived on the Friday and Saturday of the last week of the regular season, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: This will allow teams to add these players to their rosters earlier in the week ahead of the playoffs, making them eligible to play for their teams.
- To insert strength of victory as the second tiebreaker for awarding contracts, proposed by the Competition Committee
Rule change: This will allow teams for strength of victory to be the second tiebreaker for postseason seeding after the head-to-head tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker was previously conference record. It appears the league had a typo in the press release they sent out regarding this rule.
- To adjust the rules for postseason signings to account for standard elevations rule; to freeze postseason rosters at 4 p.m. ET on the Wednesday following the last week of the regular season
Rule change: This will allow for the league and teams to better account for their postseason roster spots and to clarify a new time to finalize playoff rosters.
2023 approved resolutions
- To make the regular season and postseason roster transaction deadlines the same; changes the transaction deadline for Saturday night postseason games to 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Rule change: This will allow for teams to make roster adjustments at the last-minute, the same way teams do in the regular season.
- To provide greater clarity as to a player's availability for a game, proposed by the Los Angeles Chargers
Rule change: Last season, Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins played one snap against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 after tweaking his hamstring in pregame warmups. Yet, Cincinnati removed Higgins from the injury report prior to the game, making it seem like he was going to play. Bengals head coach Zach Taylor said Higgins "found his way onto the field" but that he had no intention of playing him. This change is likely aimed to prevent this type of situation from occurring.
- To establish one preseason roster reduction date and related procedures, proposed by 25 teams
Rule change: The NFL will keep their 32 teams' roster at 90 throughout the entire preseason and then have one day to trim the team from 90 to 53. This will likely result in fewer starters appearing in the preseason as well as an avalanche of cuts occurring across the league at the exact same time.
2023 not approved playing rules, bylaws and resolutions
- To allow for roughing the passer to be a reviewable call, proposed by the Los Angeles Rams (according to NFL Media)
Rule change: Last season, referees appeared to call roughing the passer penalties on some plays that appeared to be normal quarterback hits or sacks. For example, Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett's roughing the passer penalty on Tom Brady. Atlanta needed one last stop to get the ball back with under two minutes remaining in a one-possession game.
The “roughing the passer” just called in Tom Brady’s favor was the worst call of this young NFL season.— Honorable Mention Podcast (@MentionPod) October 9, 2022
- To teams to go for it on fourth-and-20 following a score instead of an onside pick, proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles (according to NFL Media)
Rule change: Onside kicks were recovered at an NFL all-time low rate of 4%, per NFL Media. NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said, via NFL Media, that there "is not an appetite yet to have the onside kick go away." The NFL would reportedly like to see a recovery rate of 13-14%, so they could be open to changes in later seasons. Just not for 2023.
- Third QB gameday roster spot rule revival, proposed by the Detroit Lions (according to NFL Media)
Rule change: Per NFL.com, the third-quarterback rule came to life in 1991, and it gave teams an emergency passer who didn't count toward the 45-man game-day roster. In 2011, owners and players agreed to expand game-day rosters from 45 to 46 players. The details of this change meant if an NFL team wanted to carry a third quarterback on game day, their inclusion in uniform would count toward game-day roster spots.
The San Francisco 49ers could have desperately used a third quarterback in their NFC Championship Game loss at the Philadelphia Eagles in which third-string quarterback Brock Purdy and fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson both suffered injuries. The 49ers were already without injured quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo at the time. With this rule brought back, they could have had one more quarterback in uniform.