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Lunchbreak: Onside-Kick Alternative Among NFL's Proposed Rule Changes

A handful of NFL teams recently submitted proposed rule changes in advance of the Annual League Meeting that is set for March 29 through April 1 in Palm Beach, Florida.

Nick Shook of NFL.com wrote that perhaps the biggest proposed change relates to onside kicks and could impact late-game situations.

Shook wrote:

The league is ready to consider something it first made available in the 2020 Pro Bowl. Instead of only being able to attempt an unlikely onside kick, the team set to kickoff can instead elect to attempt to gain a first down on fourth-and-15 from its own 25. If successful, the team would maintain possession from that point on the field.

The proposal was submitted by the Eagles, and came a year after the Broncos first proposed the rule change in 2019.

Shook added:

Teams recovered an onside kick at a rate of just 10.4 percent in the last two seasons, including a rate of 7.7 percent in 2018, the lowest since such data became available in 1992, per NFL Research.

According to NFL Research, attempts on fourth-and-15 have occurred 60 times over the past 10 seasons, and 16 of those plays have been successfully converted (26.7 percent), including two of seven attempts (28.6 percent) in 2019.

The Eagles also proposed restoring the length of overtime to 15 minutes instead of the 10-minute period it currently is.

The Ravens and Chargers teamed up on a pair of proposals. They want to add an umpire upstairs in a booth to make an eight-person officiating crew, and also add a senior technology advisor to the referee to assist the officiating crew.

The Vikings did not submit any proposed rule changes. The full list of proposed changes can be found here.

3 Vikings among ESPN's top 100 free agents

Free agency is a week away, as the new league year kicks off at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 18.

Minnesota is scheduled to have 19 players hit free agency, and Vikings.com has looked at the status of various positions over the past two weeks.

QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DE/Edge Rushers | DT | LB | CB

A look at safety will post Thursday, and special teams will conclude the series this Friday.

With plenty of roster movement expected in the coming weeks, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com recently scanned rosters from around the league ranked his top 100 free agents.

Seifert included three Vikings on his list, all of whom play in the secondary, and began with safety Anthony Harris at No. 23. He wrote:

After three seasons as a backup/special-teams player, Harris has emerged as a force in pass defense. He tied for the league lead in 2019 with six interceptions, and his nine interceptions since the start of the 2018 season are tied for the third most. The Vikings are tight against the salary cap and seem likely to let him test the market.

Harris became the starting safety next to Harrison Smith midway through the 2018 season and has created a handful of game-changing plays since. He was also a valuable special teams contributor in 2019, serving as the personal protector for punter Britton Colquitt on fourth downs.

Cornerback Trae Waynes, a 2015 first-round pick, was 38th on Seifert's ranking.

Waynes didn't become a full-time starter until his third season with the Vikings, and after playing out his fifth-year option, he would be older than most first-time free agents. But the Vikings salary-cap limitations seem likely to put Waynes on the open market.

Waynes has seven career interceptions. He's started 53 of 74 games.

Seifert had cornerback Mackensie Alexander at No. 87. The 2016 second-round pick is set to have his contract expire next week.

Alexander has experience at the slot and outside positions in Mike Zimmer's defense. He could be a viable option for a team looking to bolster its defensive backs group.

Alexander, a former Clemson standout, recorded two interceptions and 4.5 sacks in 55 career games with the Vikings.

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