INDIANAPOLIS – Pat McAfee doesn't anticipate a major shift in how teams will handle kickoffs in 2016 with the new touchback rule.
At the Annual Meetings in Florida this past week, NFL owners passed a one-year proposal for touchbacks to be moved up to the 25-yard line (from the 20-yard line).
Such a change has sparked talk from around the NFL on if teams will try and use shorter kickoffs, placed near the numbers, to try and pin return teams deep in their own territory.
McAfee isn't a believer in a major schematic change.
"I don't think you are going to see any strategy change, except for kickoff return teams," McAfee said on 1070 The Fan earlier this week. "You are going to see them take a knee more.
"I think the reason why is let's say I kick the ball four yards deep last season. To get back to even (the 20-yard line) they would've needed a 24-yard return. If I kick the same ball now, they need a monster, 29-yard return just to get back to even (the 25-yard line). And then they are also gambling to get a holding penalty. So you are going to see a lot more people take a knee, save the risk."
McAfee was the league's top kickoff man in 2015, setting an NFL record with a 90.5 percent touchback rate.
For teams without the luxury of McAfee's booming right leg though, they might look into other kickoff options (i.e. squib/mortar kicks).
But when breaking down the numbers, is the risk of a shorter kick really worth the reward?
"I don't think you are going to see a kicking team change much strategy because a difference of a team scoring from the 20 to the 25 is only like one percent," McAfee says. "I don't think the one percent difference is worth changing your complete strategy. Because on a kickoff, if one guy gets out of his lane, that's to the crib. No questions asked.
"I don't know if you roll the dice."
Highlights from McAfee's 2015 season!