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NFL Adopts New Rules, Bylaws For 2017 Season

Intro: The National Football League on Tuesday announced the adoption of several new rules, bylaws and a resolution to be put into effect for the 2017 season.


Player safety, roster flexibility and game efficiency were the primary themes of many of the new adopted rules and bylaws for the 2017 National Football League season, which were announced Tuesday at the annual league meetings in Phoenix.

In all, eight new rule changes, three new bylaws and one resolution will immediately go into effect (click here for the entire list of changes provided by the NFL).

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

  • By Philadelphia; Prohibits the "leaper" block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.
    • This prohibits a player from running and jumping across the line of scrimmage during a field goal or extra point attempt, and was submitted for player safety reasons.
    • It will now be considered unsportsmanlike conduct to run forward and leap across the line of scrimmage in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or try kick, unless the leaping player was originally lined up on the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped. A player who is behind the line of scrimmage at the snap may run forward and leap, provided he does not cross the line of scrimmage or land on players.

By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. * * This was submitted for player safety and integrity of the game reasons. * A player will now automatically be disqualified in the event that they are penalized twice in the same game for committing unsportsmanlike conduct fouls such as: * * Throwing a punch, or a forearm or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made. * Using abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials or league representatives * Using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams. The player will be automatically disqualified regardless of whether the penalty if accepted or declined by the opponent. The fouls do not have to be judged by the official to be flagrant for the automatic disqualification to occur , and any foul that occurs during the pregame warmup period will carry over into the game. Nothing in this section supersedes the game official's discretion to judge a foul to be flagrant and disqualify the player based on one occurrence.

By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. * * Submitted for player safety reasons. * This essentially extends the new 25-yard-line touchback rule, which was put into effect last year in a trial run, for another season. This is still only for "free kicks," though, so it appears a touchback after a turnover or a punt would still give the opposing team the ball at the 20-yard line.

By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. * * Submitted for player safety reasons. * Fouls were already called in several instances when a player was in a defenseless posture, but this adds another wrinkle to the rule, giving protection to a receiver running a pass route. If the receiver becomes a blocker or assumes a blocking posture, however, he is no longer considered a defenseless player.

By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. * * Submitted for player safety reasons. * An illegal crackback block occurs if a defensive player is contact below the waist within an area five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage by an offensive player who is moving toward the position from which the ball was snapped IF: * * The offensive player was in a set position and aligned more than two yards outside an offensive tackle (flexed) when the ball was snapped, or * The offensive player was in the backfield position and in motion when the ball was snapped.

By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a handheld device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. * * Submitted for greater efficiency and consistency in the replay process. * Now all replay reviews will be conducted by a designated member of the officiating department at the NFL office. During the review, the designee will consult with the game referee, who will have access to a handheld, field-level monitor. * A decision will be reversed only when there is clear and obvious visual evidence available that warrants the change, as always. * Prior to consulting with the officiating department designee, the referee will discuss the play with the covering officials at the game to gather any information that may be pertinent to the review. * Each review will be a maximum of 60 seconds in length, times from when the handheld, field-level monitor is provided to the referee.

By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. * * Submitted for competitive fairness. * Last year, for example, the Baltimore Ravens intentionally held nine Cincinnati Bengals players on the game's last play, and took a safety to run out the final 11 seconds of the game on fourth down, winning 19-14. The new rule now penalizes teams trying to manipulate the game clock in similar fashion by giving a loss of 15 yards to that team, and the game clock will be reset to where it was at the snap. After the penalty is enforced, the game clock will start on the next snap.

By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half. * * Submitted for greater consistency in the application of timing rules. * Previously, teams were not allowed to commit certain acts inside of one minute of either half to conserve time. Now the rule goes into effect after the two-minute warning of either half. * These acts mostly include violations of the substitution rules. * Also, when a replay review now after the two-minute warning of either half results in the on-field ruling being reversed and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock, then the officials will run 10 seconds off the game clock before permitting the ball to be put in play on the ready-to-play signal. Previously, this occurred inside one minute.
Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

  • By Competition Committee; Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club's facility for one year only.
    • Submitted to make the college scouting process more equitable for all clubs.
    • Teams can now administer a maximum of one league-approved workout of draft-eligible players in late February or early March (instead of late January or early February). These can be conducted at the team's facility if their campus or residence is located within a 50-mile radius.

By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return. * * Submitted to provide teams greater roster flexibility.

By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason. * * Submitted to provide teams greater roster flexibility.
Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

  • By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.
    • Submitted to acknowledge the different hiring calendar for non-football employees. In certain situations, it is more opportune for the employer club to have a non-football employee leave during the playing season.

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