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NFL approves rule changes for 2024 season

Prominent changes include new kickoff rule and removal of 'hip drop' tackle 


The NFL has approved a number of rule changes at the annual OWNERS Meeting in Orlando, Fla., notably including implementing a new kickoff rule as well as penalizing the "hip drop" tackle.

The kickoff will be the change fans notice from the very first snap of the season as the play will look radically different than it has in years past.

"We've basically taken a 25-yard running head start away from the kickoff team," Saints special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said. "They are now up on the 40-yard line and everybody's going to start when the when the ball's touched either by the ground or the player."

Rizzi and several other special teams coaches around the NFL have been working on this for a couple of years as the play was diminishing in prominence due to rule changes over the years to make it safer. As late as 2010, the return rate of kickoffs was 80%, but in 2023 it was down to 20%, according to Rizzi.

"We feel like we've revived a dying play," Rizzi said.

The special teams coach does not expect the new play to sacrifice gains to player safety.

"We feel like we've made this play a heck of a lot safer for the players," Rizzi said. "We're going to eliminate some of the big collisions. It's going to be a little bit more of a close-quarters play. We're going to lower the injury rate and we're going to bring this play back and make it more exciting for everybody."

Another rule change that has been implemented is penalizing "hip drop" tackles.

"Look, I think it was necessary," Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said. "We understand the play and how devastating it can be in terms of injury, so I understand it. I understand why we need to get it out of the game."

Other prominent approved changes including moving the trade deadline back to after Week 9 instead of Week 8 as well as teams can now be awarded a third coach's challenge if they are successful on at least one of the first two challenges. Previously, a team had to succeed on each of its first two challenges to receive a third.

Approved 2024 Playing Rules, Bylaws and Resolutions

2024 Approved Playing Rules Summary

  1. By Detroit; amends Rule 15, Section 1, Article 1, to protect a club's ability to challenge a third ruling following one successful challenge.
  1. By Competition Committee; amends Rule 14, Section 5, Article 2, to allow for an enforcement of a major foul by the offense prior to a change of possession in a situation where there are fouls by both teams.
  2. By Competition Committee; amends Rule 15, Section 3, Article 3, to include a ruling of a passer down by contact or out of bounds before throwing a pass as a reviewable play.
  3. By Competition Committee; amends Rule 15, Section 3, Article 9, to allow a replay review when there is clear and obvious visual evidence that the game clock expired before any snap.
  4. By Competition Committee; amends Rule 12, Section 2, to eliminate a potentially dangerous tackling technique.​

10A. By Competition Committee; for one year only, amends Rule 6, to create a new form of a free kick play that is designed to: (1) resemble a typical scrimmage play by aligning players on both teams closer together and restricting movement to reduce space and speed; and (2) promote more returns. Permits the Replay Official automatically review whether a free kick legally touched the ground or a receiving team player in the landing zone.

2024 Approved Bylaws Summary

  1. By Detroit; amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 (C) of the Constitution & Bylaws, to provide clubs with an unlimited number of designated for return transactions in the postseason.
  2. By Pittsburgh; amends Article XVI, Section 16.6 of the Constitution & Bylaws, to move the trading deadline to the Tuesday after Week 9 games.
  3. By Competition Committee; amends Article XVII, Section 17.16(C), to permit each club to place a maximum of two players who are placed on an applicable Reserve List on the business day of the final roster reduction to be designated for return. Such players will immediately count as two of the club's total designations.
  4. By Competition Committee; amends Article XVII, Section 17.3, to expand the Standard Elevation rules to permit clubs to elevate a bona fide Quarterback an unlimited number of times from its practice squad to its Active List to be its Emergency Third Quarterback.

2024 Approved Resolutions Summary​

G-1. By Buffalo; to make the injury reporting rules for players who do not travel with their clubs to games away from their home city competitively fairer.

G-2A. By Jacksonville; expands the 2023 preseason trial of providing a specific Hawk-Eye feed in the coaches booths for the 2024 preseason with full implementation for the 2025 season.

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