Kickoff change, hip-drop tackle ban proposed to NFL owners

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 4:05 PM

NFL owners will have some proposals for rules changes to mull over ahead of next week’s annual league meeting, including a radical change to kickoffs and whether to ban hip-drop tackles.

The competition committee on Wednesday unveiled its proposed rules changes for the 2024 season, including one that would adopt kickoff alignment used by the XFL in recent seasons.

For one year only, the panel is proposing the 10 players other than the kicker line up on the receiving team’s 40-yard line on kickoffs in order to minimize high-speed collisions. The kicker would still kick off from his own 35.

At least nine members of the receiving team would line up in a set-up zone between their own 35- and 30-yard line. Up to two returners would line up in the landing zone between the goal line and the 20.

Teams would have to alert officials of an onside kick, in which case the traditional formation is used.

The XFL used a similar formation in 2020 and 2023, but the newly merged XFL and USFL is using the NFL’s alignment in 2024.

The committee also is recommending the ban of the hip-drop tackles, a technique in which a player “unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s legs at or below the knee.”

The committee is proposing a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down for the tackle, which has been blamed for numerous injuries.

Other proposals include adding two instances of plays that can be reviewed — whether a passer is out of bounds or down by contact before throwing and whether the game clock expired before a snap.

Also, a change to allow an emergency QB3 to be on the practice squad as opposed to previously being a part of the 53-man roster also is proposed.

Rules changes need approval from 24 of 32 owners for adoption. The league annual meetings are next week in Orlando, Fla.

–Field Level Media