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NFL Rule Changes: What's New for 2023, What's Still TBD

The NFL's Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, wrapped up Tuesday with a few changes to playing rules, bylaws and resolutions, but some proposals required more discussion that will continue in May.

Here's a brief rundown of what was decided and what remains to be determined.

Call for a new jersey number

Dial 0 for new jersey.

The change likely to generate the most interest among fans is that owners approved 0 to become an eligible jersey number, beginning this fall, for quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers, defensive backs, punters and kickers.

Launching, tripping and illegal use of helmet

Other separate changes included the following:

A foul can now be called if a player leaves "one or both feet" and springs forward and upward into an opponent (previous wording required a launch from both feet).

The penalty for tripping will increase to 15 yards (from 10) and declare it a personal foul.

Language regarding the use of a helmet to "butt, spear or ram an opponent" was removed from a rule regarding unnecessary roughness. New language was added to the impermissible use of the helmet rule that makes it a foul if a player uses "any part of his helmet or facemask to butt or make forcible contact to an opponent's head or neck area." The addition accompanies it being against the rules for a player to lower his head and make forcible contact, but it also includes an exception for "incidental contact by the mask or the helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent."

Expansion for Replay Official

A change will enable the Replay Official or Senior Vice President of Officiating to initiate a review of a play when on-field officials rule an offense failed to reach the line to gain on fourth down.

This will join the following situations that were already allowed: an interception; a fumble or backward pass recovered by an opponent or goes out of bounds through the opponent's end zone; possession by the kicking team at the end of any free kick or scrimmage down; disqualification of a player.

Bylaw modifications

Owners agreed to change the claiming period for players waived on the Friday and Saturday of the last week of the regular season to the following Monday, which aligns with the period for every other week of the season.

Strength of victory was added as a second tiebreaker to determining priority for waiver claims. Strength of schedule remains the first tiebreaker. If a tie exists after strength of schedule and strength of victory, "the Commissioner will award the contract by lot."

Owners also agreed to provide additional roster flexibility for postseason teams through a change when their rosters are frozen.

Single cut day

A resolution proposed by 25 teams, including the Vikings, established a singular cut day for rosters to be reduced from 90 to 53 on the Tuesday following the final weekend of preseason games (Aug. 29, 2023).

Guardian Caps in place's Judy Battista reported that Guardian Caps, padded helmet coverings that were introduced last offseason, "will now be mandated at every preseason practice, as well as every regular-season and postseason practice with contact."

To be determined …

Tackling technique

Battista also noted that "hip drop" tackles are going to be studied more before the owners meet again in May.

According to the league, the technique "leads to injury at a rate 20 times that of other tackles and causes more severe lower body injuries."

Pushing from behind scrum style

The rugby scrum style play of having multiple teammates push a ball carrier from behind did not get outlawed but will remain under review heading toward the May meeting.