(Un)proposed NFL rule changes

Christian Petersen

With a brief lull in training camp news, come talk about some things you'd like to see changed in the NFL.

The NFL trade deadline always goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. Inspired by hockey and the "other football," perhaps NFL teams just need a little motivation to get in on the action.

New rule: Roster exemption for player acquired via trade

This rule would create an additional active gameday roster spot for a player that a team acquires via a trade.

Possible stipulations:

- Transactions including draft picks are ineligible unless the value of the players is determined to be greater than the value of the picks. Teams are already more than willing to deal draft picks. This rule change is to fabricate some of the trading-day frenzies that generate fan interest in other sports.

- Transactions completed after a certain date are ineligible. This would create a 'soft' trade deadline, presumably at some point between minicamps and the end of the pre-season, when the NFL isn't generating much conversation in the sports world.

- No more than 2 transactions may be considered for this exemption. This would discourage teams from abusive trading.

- For a transaction to be eligible, players both sent and received must be designated as eligible by their respective teams. This would help ensure that teams use the rule to acquire players they are actually interested in, rather than just moving players around to move them around.



An additional, active roster spot gives coaches and managers a little extra wiggle room come game day. It could open the door for a little extra strategy, or simply offer peace of mind regarding depth.


This rule creates an extra job for NFL players. By making the affected roster spot an active one, the player would accrue real game experience and encourage teams to put extra thought into related roster moves instead of trading simply for the sake of trading.


Though many of the players that would benefit from this change would be under-the-radar depth players, it would still create an extra layer of excitement and intrigue for fans heavily invested in their teams. Player trades are interesting (ask a fan of any other sport) and a way to keep interest in the NFL up during off-times.

The league

With talks of expanding the regular season schedule to include additional games, teams and the NFLPA will want expanded rosters to go along with that. By creating an extra, conditional roster spot, this rule would be a baby-step towards that end, and could be instituted right away.



Moving is extremely disruptive, and would put additional strain on the personal lives of players. Life can be difficult enough for fringe players as it is. Just ask Ross Ventrone, who was, "hired, promoted, or fired by the New England Patriots no fewer than 29 times in two years."


Could cross a line between fantasy and reality. Would encourage trading for the sake of trading, albeit with checks and balances.

With free agency working the way it does there's less motivation for NFL teams to go out of their way to participate in player trades than compared to many other leagues, where players rarely hit the open market. Do you have any ideas about how to nudge teams towards shaking things up a little bit, or don't you think it's really an issue?

Feel free to throw out other ideas you may have. Player safety has been a hot button topic. Do you think it would make sense to force players to wear pads? Maybe you think the quarterback coddling has gotten out of hand? Something like 50% of a quarterback's surface area is off-limits for hitting now. Personally, I think most of the safety rules are working but occasionally get irritated with how the referee's interpret and enforce them. It's difficult to tell if a hit is legal or malicious in the heat of the moment.

I would like to see changes to kick-offs. If reducing the number of kicks returned also reduces injuries significantly then they can't really roll them back to the way they used to be, but as they are currently it's just a waste of time -commercial break, kicker boots it and returner downs it in the end zone, commercial break. It's ten minutes of downtime that zaps my interest in the broadcast. If someone has an idea that would revolutionize special teams, please share it!

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