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"Significant Change" To Kickoff Approved By NFL Teams

NFL teams voted on Tuesday to change the kickoff in an effort to generate more returns while also making the plays after.

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ORLANDO—NFL kickoffs will look significantly different during the 2024 season.

A proposed change to the kickoff passed by a 29-3 vote Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting, meaning for at least one season, that play will undergo substantial changes in an effort to make the play safer while also increasing the number of returns.

Under the new kickoff rule, which is similar to the setup used in the XFL, the ball will still be kicked off from the 35-yard line, but now the receiving team and the kicking team, minus the kicker and returner or returners, will line up five yards apart from each other in the receiving team's half of the field and the 35 and 30 yard line. Other than the kicker and returners, no players can move until the ball is caught or hits the ground.

A kick that lands short of the landing zone (inside the 20-yard line) is treated like a kick out of bounds and results in the receiving team getting the ball at the 40-yard line, and any kick that hits in the landing zone must be returned. If the ball rolls into the end zone and is downed, the ball goes to the 20-yard line, whereas if it lands in the end zone and is downed, it goes to the 30-yard line, and if it goes out of the end zone it also goes to the 30.

The goal of this significant change is twofold, in that it will increase returns, but do so in a safer manner, as the kick coverage team won't be running full speed down the field, leading to more violent collisions.

"We're taking a play that's essentially been dying over the course of the last two years, and in our opinion, we've revived it," Saints special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said in a press conference at the NFL Annual Meeting after the change was passed.

Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald was asked about the potential rule change earlier in the morning before the vote, and said, "It's definitely a significant change. So if that's something that gets voted in, and we're going to have to go to work on it, and try to be ahead of the league once this thing kicks off."

Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald continues to build out his coaching staff for 2024 so check out who will be will leading the team next season. (02/28/24)

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