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An NFL Fan’s Rule Change Proposals

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-Winning Team Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As an ardent NFL fan who wants to see the quality of the league rules, player safety/longevity and the games improve, here are some suggested rule changes:

1. Teams should be able to dress all 53 players on game days. The NFL is trying to stress player safety, thus there is no reason why players on the roster should be inactive on game days, unless they are injured. This gives every team maximum depth, especially on special teams.

2. Eliminate compensatory draft picks. They benefit the top teams more than they do the bottom teams. If the NFL truly wants to create parity, then this rule needs to be changed. It also is a major setback for veteran free agents, as teams are loath to sign veteran players when it could cost them compensatory picks. The NFL should do everything it can to help veteran players sustain their careers, rather than to hinder them.

3. If the league wants to continue compensatory picks, then move all 32 comp picks to an 8th round and leave the other rounds as they are. There is something very wrong when the Super Bowl champion Patriots are awarded two 3rd round picks (#97, #101) for electing to let their own free agents go. The NFC Champion Rams also were awarded a 3rd round comp pick (#99). Is it just pure coincidence that 9 of the 10 teams receiving 3rd or 4th round compensatory picks this year have all been playoff teams the past couple of years? This fact in itself would suggest that the rule favors the stronger teams. Creating an 8th round would at least prevent the comp picks from leapfrogging over the every team’s picks through 7 rounds. Plus, now that teams can trade comp picks---it benefits the stronger teams even more because they can be used as collateral and it gives those teams the added luxury of being flexible in moving up or down in the draft.

4. Have representatives (former players or coaches) from each team announce the draft picks. Take Roger Goodell and all of the booing out of it. The booing takes the focus away from where it should be---on the draftees and their shining moments. Eliminate extemporaneous speeches and trash talking from the podium---again, the focus should be on the draftees. Eliminate the salutes to the military---this is not the appropriate venue for lauding the military---again, the NFL draft should be about the players being drafted and the excitement of the teams that are drafting them.

5. Change the pass interference rule---and make it simple. DBs can press for the first yards, after that, whichever player first initiates deliberate hand and/or arm contact, the DB or the WR, is the one who should get flagged for interference. All this hand grabbing and arm looping needs to stop---not only because players are gaining an advantage, it is very difficult to see which player, the DB or the WR, is the one gaining the advantage, as smart WRs now hook their arm in on the DBs to make it look like the WR is being held, just as DBs try to hook and pin one of the WR’s arms so that the WR can’t use both hands to catch. By issuing a non-contact rule, it will make it easy to see which player puts a hand on another in order to gain an advantage.

6. If the team that gets the ball first in OT (overtime) scores a TD---then the other team should get the opportunity to do the same. But then, for time purposes, the 2nd team, if they score a matching TD, must go for a 2 point conversion.

7. Do NOT change the on-side kick rule. Converting a 4th and 15 is easier than converting an on-side kick.

8. Have replay officials on site to quickly notify the referee of replay decisions. Usually within one minute, all the fans watching TV and the Jumbotron know what the call should be---there is no reason for everyone to have to wait several minutes more to get the obvious call.

9. If the NFL changes the pass interference rule--- and make it the 1st one to make deliberate contact gets the flag---then replay is easy. The Saints would have been able to challenge that missed PI call and clearly the DB made contact well before the ball arrived. Keep the system of 3 replay challenges per team and the 2:00 replay rules intact. That way replays won’t get out of hand.

10. Have all east coast away games for the AFC West and NFC West teams start at 4 PM or 4:25 PM EDT. Again, this is as much for player safety as it is for making the the time zone changes fair, as west coast players are sleep deprived because of travel and a 3 hour time difference when having to play a game that would be at 10 AM their time. That also prepares East coast teams for playing 1 PM PDT games on the road (4 PM their time).

11. Stop the Directv monopoly on NFL Sunday Ticket. Give fans a more affordable way to watch all of the games---and greater access to the games.

I would love it if the NFL would go back to the old NFL Draft format of Saturday (Rounds 1-3), Sunday (Rounds 4-7). Stretching the draft out over three days---has made watching the draft less enjoyable and more time restrictive. But, if the majority of others like it, then I’m fine with it.

And I don’t know how feasible it is to move free agency to the weeks after the draft---but it feels to me like it would be better for teams to allow teams to make trades in March, then have the draft in April (move it up to the 3rd weekend in April) and then have free agency follow the draft. I think it would allow teams to commit more to drafting the best player available (BPA), if teams knew they could use free agency to fill the holes left after the draft.

Take last year for the Cardinals, for example. If they knew before free agency that they drafted QB Josh Rosen, would they have then turned to both Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon? The thing is---teams can go into the draft thinking they are going be able to draft the top players on their board---but, in reality, the draft is full of so many surprises and uncertainties that teams rarely come out a draft feeling like it filled all of their holes and needs.

What do you think? What rules changes would you propose?