NFL rule changes: Tuck rule among proposed changes

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After more than a decade of controversial existence, the NFL tuck rule could be changing.

The NFL tuck rule could be no more if a proposal by the NFL Competition Committee is approved during the annual league meetings.

A change to the tuck rule was one of six rule change proposals announced by the Competition Committee on Thursday. If the proposal is accepted, the new rule would result in a fumble on any play where the quarterback loses the ball while in the process of moving it back to his body after a pump fake. The proposed change is not unexpected, as Dean Blandino, the NFL director of officiating said in January the league would look into changing the rule.

The other proposals include a change to the so called "Jim Schwartz rule." Currently, if a NFL coach challenges a play illegally, the play is no longer reviewable as Schwartz infamously found out during a Thanksgiving Day game. Under the proposed change, a team would lose a timeout for an illegal challenge, but the play could still be reviewed.

That wasn't the only proposed change to the instant replay system, as another proposal would make an incomplete pass reviewable through a fumble. Currently, if a pass is ruled incomplete on the field, the play is deemed dead and is not reviewable. The change would allow officials to review whether the pass was incomplete or complete with a fumble and recovery.

There were also proposals to improve player safety. One change would make the long snapper on extra point and field goal attempts a defenseless player in an effort to reduce injuries. The Competition Committee also proposed a ban on peel-back blocks, even inside the tackle box. That would eliminate cut blocks and other low blocks. Under another proposal, players would be prevented striking other players with their helmet outside of the tackle box. That rule change is designed for running backs who use the crown of their helmet against defenders.

A number of bylaw changes were also proposed, including changing the window for players to return from the physically unable to perform list from Week 6 to Week 11. The final preseason cut list could also be changed to accommodate a potential Wednesday season opener.

As expected, the NFL did not propose a change to expand the playoffs to 14 or even 16 teams. Playoff expansion was reportedly discussed, but the Competition Committee did not rule either way.

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