The NFL has adopted several rule changes that will affect how rosters are constructed, as well as how the game is played.
At the Spring League Meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, one of the biggest changes NFL owners approved is to eliminate the first roster cut-down period, which used to force teams to trim their roster to 75 before the final preseason game. Now, there will be just one roster cut down day following the fourth preseason game, which is from a 90-man roster to 53. Teams are free to cut players at any time, but will only be required to make one cut, from 90 to 53.
This is good news for fringe players looking to make one final bid for a spot on a 53-man roster or practice squad. This also will allow teams to play more of their fringe players in the final game of the preseason.
Because the roster was normally cut down to 75 while teams also rested many, if not all of their starters in that final preseason game, there are often not enough bodies to ensure an adequate game is played. Now, there will be more bodies available for that final game, and it will help teams not have to play key players, if they don’t want to.
IR-Designation to Return
Another change involving NFL rosters features two players now being able to return from injured reserve via the IR designation to return. Previously, the rule allowed just one player to return from the list, though most teams have more than one injured player capable of returning at some point in the season.
That was a quandary the Bengals faced last year when running back Cedric Peerman and cornerback William Jackson III were both able to come off of IR, but Peerman ended up getting the one and only nod. Had this new rule been in place, both players would have been able to come off IR.
NFL owners also approved shortening overtime in the preseason and regular season from 15 to 10 minutes. The hope is to shorten games that are forced into an extra session while also preventing the dreaded tie.
15 minutes gives both teams ample time to go down the field and hit a field goal to extend the overtime period. Cutting it down to 10 minutes would increase the chance that only one team scores within the first 10 minutes. It also may sway teams to go for touchdowns more often on their first possession as opposed to settling for field goals.
The Bengals lead the NFL in ties during the last 15 years, so, maybe this will be a positive change for Cincinnati.
The No Fun League is Allowing More Fun
One final change the NFL made is relaxing rules on celebrations. In a letter to fans from Roger Goodell, the league said it wants to allow players "more room to have fun after they make big plays."
Previously, many kinds of celebrations were outlawed and led to big fines and penalties when executed. It looks like the league is more willing to allow a little extracurricular celebration after scoring plays.
However, any celebrations that contain offensive demonstrations, are prolonged or those that delay the game, as well as celebrations directed at an opponent will still be penalized. That seems like a fair tradeoff, no?
Al Riveron, head of refs, says it's still possible to get a 15-yarder for an illegal celebration -- taunting, weapon imagery, etc.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 23, 2017