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Lunchbreak: Approved NFL Rule Changes Include 'Emergency' 3rd QB & TNF Flex Scheduling

EAGAN, Minn. – NFL Owners are approving rule changes for the 2023 season.

The Spring League Meeting is currently taking place at the Viking Lakes Omni Hotel near Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, and representatives of each team have been voting on various rule changes.

Among the approved proposals are the ability to flex Thursday Night Football games and the "emergency" third quarterback position.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert detailed the latter, which resurfaced after the 49ers "ran out of quarterbacks" during their loss to the Eagles in last season's NFC Championship Game. Seifert wrote:

The rule applies only to quarterbacks who are on a team's 53-man roster. Practice squad players are not eligible to be emergency quarterbacks, not even if they are elevated for that week's game. But it allows a team to avoid counting the emergency quarterback as one of its active players on game day, a modest incentive for teams that otherwise would have chosen to go into a game with only two available quarterbacks.

The emergency quarterback would be eligible for in-game activation if the rest of a team's quarterbacks are unable to participate due to injury or ejection, but not as a result of a benching. If one of the other quarterbacks is cleared to return to the game, the emergency quarterback must be removed at that time and can return only if there is once again no other option.

Seifert noted that this rule actually was used by the NFL from 1991-2010. He explained, "During 2011 collective bargaining with the NFL Players Association, the sides decided to increase the overall limit of game-day active players rather than limit it to one position."

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2023 regular season schedule.'s Nick Shook dived into the modified proposal around the flexing of Thursday Night Football which originally was reported by NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Shook noted the resolution "comes with strict requirements":

Thursday games can only be flexed between Weeks 13 and 17, with a four-week notice required. Only two Thursday night games can be flexed per year, and the resolution notes that the flexible scheduling for TNF is on "a trial basis."


Clubs may be required to switch Sunday afternoon regular-season games to approximately 8:15 p.m. (ET) on Thursday (and vice-versa), upon at least 28 days' notice from the league office. The league's late-season, fluid scheduling mechanic – in which games are listed with a time and date of "to be determined" – can be used to fill Thursday games as part of the flexing possibilities. In this scenario, for example, the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 15 game at the Indianapolis Colts could be a candidate for flexing into Thursday night.

The resolution comes even after owners and the NFLPA raised issues with the proposal, voicing concerns regarding travel logistics and travel impact on fans, Pelissero reported.

Shook wrote that "despite concerns, the premium placed on prime-time NFL games won out."

View photos of the Vikings 2023 coaching staff.

Change for fair catches on the way, too

On Tuesday morning, NFL Owners also voted to approve a rule for 2023 that will allow teams to signal for a fair catch anywhere between their 25-yard line and goal line on a kickoff and be awarded the equivalent of a touchback (ball spotted at 25-yard line).

NFL Media's Steve Wyche reported the change via Twitter: