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NFL considering 11 rule changes for the 2021 season

One change could see players like Travis Etienne keeping their collegiate number, in the NFL

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Every year teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers await decisions on rule change proposals that will impact their future, as well as the league’s.

This year, there are eleven potential changes being considered, ranging from preseason alterations, jersey numbers, and in-game adjustments which could have larger impacts on the outcomes of many regular-season battles.

Four of the proposals have been brought to the table by the Competition Committee themselves and include the potential elimination of preseason overtime, establish a maximum for players in a specific zone, expansion on the blocking below the waist rules already in place, and allowing context on replay reviews moving forward.

The other seven proposals have been put in for consideration by specific teams like the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles.

Baltimore specifically presented all or part of three of the potential changes.

Some of the ideas are pretty straightforward. Eliminating preseason overtime makes sense when the league is focusing more and more on player safety. Adding a seventeenth regular-season game has brought up some questions around the topic, so eliminated extra snaps in preseason play is one small way to gain some of the bad press back.

Others need a little more explanation. For example, the rule change being considered for just the 2021 league year to add restrictions for free-kick (safety kickoff or kickoff) setup zones.

According to the proposal, receiving teams would have to place at least eight players between their restraining line and fifteen yards behind it. The new language adds in the receiving team can place “no more than nine” in the same zone.

A new adjustment to the blocking below the waist rule would expand coverage to include a prohibition of below the waist blocks,

“By players of either team during a scrimmage down prior to a change of possession unless the contact occurs in the Tight End Box. (Note: Players are prohibited from initiating contact below the waist of an opponent outside of the Tight End Box, except against a runner or a player who is attempting to catch a forward or backward pass.)”

Perhaps the most buzzworthy is the rule I’m dubbing the “Bush Rule”, players of certain positions would be allowed a new block of numbers to select from for their jersey numbers.

Under the proposed change, defensive backs would be allowed any number from 1-49. Running backs, full backs, tight ends, H-backs, and wide receivers could choose from 1-49 and 80-89. All offensive lineman would be able to select from 50-79. Finally, linebackers could wear numbers anywhere between 1-59 and 90-99.

Some interesting rule changes on the table, and coming from all areas of the game. We’ll keep tabs on which rules make it to acceptance.