2023 NFL Rule Proposals: Players Can Wear No. 0, Roughing the Passer Not Reviewable, and More

We break down the results of the 2023 NFL rule proposals at the NFL owners meetings. See why players can now wear No. 0 and the latest on roughing the passer.

2023 NFL Rule Proposals: Players Can Wear No. 0, Roughing the Passer Not Reviewable, and More

The 2023 NFL owners meetings are the best opportunity for rule changes to happen. NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay delivered some good news and bad news to franchises, players, and fans alike on Tuesday when he announced how several key votes went down. We tallied the results of the NFL rule proposals to see where the league got it right, and which proposals passed or fell short.

For rules to pass, at least 75%, or 24 of 32, owners must approve of the proposition. There were eight competition-based rules proposals and nine club-playing rules proposals. Nine total rules were passed.

Let’s dive into the results.

NFL Rule Proposals Results

Players Can Start Wearing No. 0

The Philadelphia Eagles successfully won their bid to allow the usage of the number zero (“0”), and kickers and punters to use any jersey number between 0-49 and 90-99. The number zero became a first-time sight for collegiate fans in 2022 when the NCAA adopted this rule. The NFL now follows college football.

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This is a tough one to love. For as good as the No. 1 looks on a receiver, No. 0 isn’t especially attractive. Despite this, new Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley quickly announced that he’ll be the first player in franchise history to wear the number. Count me in as skeptical on this one.

Onside Kicks Were Not Amended

The Eagles were unsuccessful in their other key playing rules proposition. They sought an alternative to onside kicks to help make the game safer and slightly increase the chances of retaining possession of the ball. Philadelphia wanted to substitute one offensive play as a 4th-and-20 attempt from the kicking team’s 20-yard line for an onside kick attempt.

McKay said, “there’s not a lot of support” for the proposition, noting there’s a historical success rate of 13-14% of recovering an onside kick. He said the league is coming off a year with a 4% success rate, which is the lowest ever.

However, this lack of excitement hasn’t led to a universal desire to reward trailing teams just yet. I’d expect this one to be revised and possibly gain momentum in future years.

Roughing The Passer Is Not Reviewable

The most surprising result from the NFL owners meetings was that the Los Angeles Rams’ proposal on roughing the passer wasn’t approved. Despite fans bemoaning the current trend of bad roughing the passer calls, McKay said there was little support for adding a review option for the penalty, noting “it wasn’t a long discussion” amongst teams.

The Detroit Lions were unsuccessful in two similar amendments, including a third coaches’ challenge, and expanding the official’s jurisdiction to allow for consultation regarding the penalty assessment. The New York Jets sought to increase the definition of a crackback block to include players in motion who block a defender below the waist but were also unsuccessful.

The Definition of Launch Changes

The NFL was certainly concerned about increasing the ability to protect players by tweaking some language on current rules, even if some new rules weren’t adopted. The definition of what a launch means now includes when a player leaves one or both feet. McKay said this is part of a health and safety initiative that continues to punish risky behaviors.

Play Clock on Instant Replay Fixed

The Los Angeles Chargers proposed that the play clock could be adjusted after an instant replay reversal. This is a minor move that mirrors other timing rules, but one that can help teams avoid delay-of-game penalties after instant replays. This is a positive fix that can help keep the game clock moving.

Tripping Penalty Upgraded as a Personal Foul

Goodbye, five-yard penalties for tripping. The competition committee sought to make tripping a penalty a more severe offense, and they succeeded in passing the rule.

Fourth-Down Replays Expand

The Houston Texans sought an amendment for the replay official’s jurisdiction to allow for reviews on fourth-down attempts, and their efforts passed. This expansion adds clarity to treat the down as any other, instead of limiting what teams can challenge due to a change of possession.

Forward Handoffs and Illegal Kicks Will Be Penalized Equally

The competition committee made the penalties for two moves equal to other similar acts. Handing the ball forward, which was already illegal, will now be penalized in line with illegal forward passes. Illegal punts, drop kicks, or place kicks will now also be penalized as an illegal forward pass.

Offense Loses Foul Benefit at Halftime

In a way of cleaning up small rule loopholes that could help an offense have another play as the clock reaches halftime, the competition committee passed a rule to prevent that occurrence. Now, offenses can no longer benefit from committing a foul that would give them another play on an untimed down.

Impermissible Use of the Helmet Terms Updated

The competition committee removed language that included the terms “butt, ram, spear” from Article 8 and moved them into Impermissible Use of the Helmet. This seems more mechanical but will again hopefully help officials enforce player safety standards on the field.

Touchbacks Not Changed

There were proposals on the table from the competition committee to change both the punt touchback and kickoff touchback rules. Both failed despite the propositions favoring offensive output and trying to encourage players to take a touchback by moving the ball to the receiving team’s 25-yard-line. The kickoff mechanics will be revisited and could be adjusted.

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This one is a disappointing outcome considering kickoffs have been essentially a waste of time over the last few years. The small handful of returns we see are rarely worthwhile.


About the Author

Ian Valentino
Ian Valentino
Ian Valentino is currently a Fantasy and Betting Analyst for PFN. He has covered all aspects for the NFL since 2013. He's previously provided scouting services to the NFL, XFL, and CFL in addition to writing for Bleacher Report, Complex Sports, and Sports Illustrated.

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