NFL Rule Changes: Failed fourth down reviews, jersey changes, cut dates, and more

Feb 13, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the Super Bowl 57 Winning Team Head Coach and MVP press conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Rule Changes: Failed fourth down reviews, jersey changes, cut dates, and more

On Tuesday, the NFL Competition Committee voted on rules change proposals submitted by teams and by the committee itself. There were several measures that passed, and a few that didn’t.

Rule changes that passed and will be in effect for the 2023 season:

Players can wear number 0. In a rule proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles, in an effort to get more jersey numbers in use, the NFL reversed a rule that forbid players to wear 0.

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley approves of the rule change.

Quarterbacks can now wear numbers from 0-19.

Defensive backs can wear 0-49.

Fullbacks, halfbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers can wear 0-49 and 80-89.

Linebackers can wear 0-59 and 90-99.

Punters and kickers can wear 0-49 and 90-99.

The play clock can now be reset with Instant Replay. In a rule change submitted by the Los Angeles Chargers, teams will no longer lose valuable time when replay is used to correct a call. When a call is overturned, the play clock will restart.

Failed fourth down conversions can now be reviewed. In a rule change proposed by the Houston Texans, the replay official can now review a failed fourth down attempt. These plays were previously not reviewable.

Launching has a new definition. In a rule proposed by the Competition Committee, launching can now occur regardless of whether a player leaps from one or both feet, as the NFL seeks to crack down on excessively violent hits.

Tripping will now be a personal foul and 15-yard penalty. Proposed by the Competition Committee, tripping becomes a personal foul, subject to personal foul ejection policies. Previously, it was a 10-yard penalty. Offenses will still receive a first down when the defense commits a tripping penalty.

Illegal forward handoffs will now be treated like illegal forward passes. In another rule proposed by the Competition Committee, penalties for these two acts will be treated the same way, in line with other illegal ball acts. This will also apply to illegal punts, drop-kicks, and placekicks.

Offensive penalties will no longer extend a half. Proposed by the Competition Committee, offenses can no longer benefit by having a half extended after an offensive penalty is accepted.

All inappropriate uses of a helmet are now categorized under “impermissible use of the helmet.” Regardless of whether a penalty is for butting, spearing, ramming, or any other offense with a helmet, it will be governed under the same phrase, in a rule proposed by the Competition Committee.

There will now only be one preseason cut day. Teams will now simply cut from 90 players to 53 on the Tuesday following their final preseason game. Roster reduction will no longer occur in steps.

Usage of Guardian Caps will expand. The league will now require Guardian Caps during all training camp practices involving helmets and all full-contact regular season practices as well.

Rules that were not voted on or did not pass included:

  • A rule which allowed for the designation of a third quarterback on game day (likely to be readdressed in May)
  • A rule allowing teams to opt for a fourth-and-20 conversion from their own 20-yard line in lieu of a traditional onside kick (tabled)
  • A rule allowing a replay review of roughing the passer penalties (voted down)
  • A rule that would move the spot of the football to the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line on punts that result in touchbacks (voted down)
  • A rule that would spot the ball at the 25-yard line for fair catches on kickoffs. (likely to be readdressed in May)
  • A rule regarding plays in which other players push a quarterback forward (will be monitored throughout 2023 season)

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