Four BIG potential rule changes in 2024, plus three questions

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It’s a good morning. Especially if you had Oakland beating Kentucky or have RB Gus Edwards on your dynasty team. Yesterday, Chargers GM Joe Hortiz called Edwards “the bell cow” runner in LA.

Today’s NFL newsletter included:

  • 📕 Rule changes?
  • 👀 Three meeting questions
  • ❓Raiders QB in 2024…

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NFL League Meeting Prep: 10 potential rule changes

Sunday marks the start of the NFL’s annual league meetings, which run until March 27 in Orlando, Florida. Owners, coaches, general managers and league executives attend the three-day sessions to discuss potential rule changes, licensing deals, player health and the league generally. They also speak with the media.

This year, there are 10 rule changes under consideration by the owners. (Banning the tush push is not one of them.) For a proposal to pass, it must receive a 75 percent vote from all owners, which means 24 voting in the affirmative. Four notable proposals:

👍 Onside kicks may be replaced. The Eagles’ proposal: permitting a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play (fourth-and-20 from the kicking team’s 20-yard line) for an onside kickoff attempt.

  • Why? Prior to kickoff alignment changes in 2018, onside recovery rates were 13.5 percent. They dropped to a low of 4.8 percent last season.

🤷‍♂️ Hip-drop tackles could be banned. These tackles are defined by the NFL’s competition committee as “a defender grabbing or wrapping the runner and swivelling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s legs at or below the knee.” See the photo below of Tony Pollard caught in a hip-drop tackle.

  • The NFL’s executive VP of policy has said that the injury rate on hip-drop tackles is 25 times higher than other methods. Players disagree. Wednesday, the NFLPA called for the NFL to reconsider this rule.


👌 The trade deadline might move back. The Steelers proposed moving it back by seven days to after Week 9, while multiple teams suggested moving the deadline to after Week 10.

  • Browns GM Andrew Berry explained the post-Week 10 proposal puts the NFL’s deadline after 55 percent of regular season games, up from 48 percent but still behind the MLB and NBA (about 65 percent).

👀 Kickoffs could get fixed. After last season’s change to allow for a touchback if a fair catch was made on kickoffs, concussions during the most dangerous play in football were cut from 20 to eight, a good sign.

  • With only 21.8 percent of kickoffs returned last season — the lowest in history — they were a waste of time. Something similar to the XFL method 👇 is under consideration.


2024 League Meetings: Does Seattle compete? Other questions

Last year’s meetings saw John Harbaugh dodge answer questions about Lamar Jackson’s future in Baltimore, a collective wait for an inevitable Aaron Rodgers trade and rule changes, like allowing players to wear No. 0.

This year, more questions. Here are three we might get answers to:

Is new Seahawks HC Mike Macdonald aiming for a title in year one? As noted by Michael-Shawn Dugar in his list of the top questions for the Seahawks, the goal under Pete Carroll was always winning the division.

So far, despite appearances on the Seattle media circuit, Macdonald hasn’t shared his expectations. Carroll was fired after the Seahawks went 9-8 last year and have had just one losing season (7-10 in 2021) in the past 11 years.

What’s next for the Commanders? First-time GM Adam Peters and HC Dan Quinn have been busy. After overhauling their roster by bringing in fresh, veteran faces while only re-signing three of their 20-plus free agents, there are important questions.

There’s a gaping hole at LT and questions at CB, plus the general depth is still uncertain. Then there’s the draft, where the team has six picks in the top 100, including the No. 2 pick. There’s no clear consensus between Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy, per Commanders reporter Ben Standig in his look at what’s next for the team.

What is the Steelers’ plan with Justin Fields? He’s a talented quarterback who needs refinement to be a long-term solution. This is one reason the Steelers are not expected to pick up his fifth-year option before the May 2 deadline, as it would have a cost of around $25 million in 2025.

Still, was this acquisition just too cheap to ignore, or do the Steelers have a goal here? Steelers reporter Mark Kaboly has more questions for Mike Tomlin.

Your Questions, Our Answers: Raiders QB

Q: After the Minshew signing, what’s your best guess as to the Raiders plans at QB? – Tyler G.

Las Vegas beat writer Tashan Reed has an answer:

“There’s a world where they’re fine rolling into 2024 with a two-way competition between Minshew and Aidan O’Connell, but the expectation is for them to remain aggressive at the game’s most important position in the draft.”

“They’ll explore trading up in the first round, according to league sources, but there’s a chance that an intriguing option could still be available at pick No. 13 or even at pick No. 44 in the second round. So, while bringing Minshew onboard provides the Raiders a safety net, it won’t stop them from trying land a highly-touted prospect in the draft.”

Reed has listed Washington’s Michael Penix and Oregon’s Bo Nix as two of 20 prospects the Raiders could pursue in Round 1, noting that “both [GM Tom] Telesco and [HC Antonio] Pierce said they really value ‘leadership and toughness’ as well as a winning history, and, boy, are those right in Nix’s wheelhouse.”

Around the NFL

The Browns paid Jerry Jeudy, leading to the obvious question: Why? Beat reporter Zac Jackson explores the state of the Browns WR room.

The Steelers post-free agency mock draft is live and includes a second-round selection of WR Roman Wilson from Michigan, who could fill the void after Diontae Johnson’s departure.

WR Josh Reynolds and WR Michael Gallup are scheduled to meet with the Ravens, who have an opening after the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. (who was visiting the Dolphins yesterday morning).

CB Cameron Sutton was released by the Lions after a warrant for his arrest was issued related to a charge of domestic battery.

Former RB Willis McGahee is one of 10 plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NFL’s disability plan that is moving forward after the NFL’s motion to dismissed was denied. McGahee and Co. are not eligible to receive benefits and believe they should.

Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort is looking to deal Arizona’s No. 4 pick. Yesterday’s mock draft for slots No. 1 through 12 had two trades, neither of which involved the Cardinals. But with QB J.J. McCarthy rising up draft boards, a move is possible.

Jacob’s Picks

📕 Meet Seahawks HC Mike Macdonald. In January, Baltimore reporter Jeff Zrebiec wrote an excellent piece on the then-Ravens DC. At 36 years old and just a sophomore in the role, Macdonald coached a unit that became the first in NFL history to lead the league in points allowed, sacks and turnovers. (The Athletic)

📺 Banning the hip-drop tackle is controversial among players like JJ Watt, who was HEATED at people calling for a ban. He explains why on Pat McAfee’s show. (YouTube)

🎙 Free agency taught us plenty. Robert Mays, PFF’s Brad Spielberger and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler explain what we learned. (Podcast)

Now, back to March Madness.

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