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NFL Considering Changes To Kickoff Rules

The kickoff could look different in 2018 if owners approve proposed rule changes next week. 


When NFL owners meet at next week's spring league meetings in Atlanta, one of the topics on the agenda will be proposed changes to the kickoff rules.

The league has made a few changes to the kickoff rules in the past—such as moving the spot of the kickoff and eliminating the three-man wedge—and like those changes, these proposed new rules would be made in the name of improving player safety.

NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora provided a breakdown of the proposed changes on Twitter this week:

Here are a few of the significant changes:

  • "All kicking team players other than the kicker must be lined up and remain in their established position no more than one yard behind their restraining line (the 35-yard line)" This means kick coverage teams, which used to line up five yards from the restraining line, will no longer have a running start, which in theory should lead to fewer violent high-speed collision.
  • On the receiving team, "at least eight players must be positioned between their restraining line and a spot 15 yards behind their restraining line (the setup zone." This would move more blockers closer to the kickoff instead of having players further back to block, again a move that would eliminate some full-speed collisions.
  • Wedge blocks are no longer allowed. Previously two-man wedges had been legal.
  • A kickoff that lands in the end zone is immediately ruled a touchback. In the past, a returner would have to down the ball for it to be touchback.