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NFL Owners Approve New Catch Rule and Other Changes For 2018

NFL owners approved a rule change that will simplify the language used to define a catch.

On Tuesday at the annual league meeting in Orlando, Florida, NFL owners voted to approve the NFL Competition Committee's proposed changes to the catch rule, which will simplify the language used to define a catch. 

"We've basically rewritten the rule," NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron said Monday.

According to, the changes to the rule passed unanimously by a 32-0 vote. A catch is now defined to include:

  1. Control of the ball.
  1. Two feet down or another body part.
  1. A football move such as:
  • A third step; 
  • Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain; 
  • Or the ability to perform such an act.

The "going-to-the-ground" standard of the previous ruling has been removed. In recent years, that means several of those apparent catches that after review were ruled incomplete would have been defined as a catch under the new rule.

"The rule's a lot clearer, and it allows for these great catches to be catches," Riveron said.

Here's the complete list of playing rules and bylaws that was approved Tuesday morning by league owners:

Approved 2018 Playing Rules Summary

1.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the playing rule that changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.

2.   By Competition Committee; Changes standard for a catch.

7.   By Competition Committee; Authorizes the designated member of the Officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that act is called on the field.

Approved 2018 Bylaws Summary

1.    By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the liberalization of rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club's facility.

2.    By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.4 to liberalize the rule for reacquisition of a player assigned via waivers.

4a.   By Denver; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 to permit clubs to trade players from Reserve/Injured.

6.    By Minnesota; Amends Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to replace the 10-day postseason claiming period with a 24-hour period.

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