Proposed rule changes on docket for NFL owners

NFL owners will vote on seven rule-change proposals and another seven by-law proposals. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The NFL owners will hold their annual March cocktail party next week at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Fla. In advance of the meeting, competition committee co-chair Rich McKay and NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson held a conference call with reporters Wednesday to go over some of the rule proposals that will be voted on at the three-day meeting.

The owners will vote on seven rule-change proposals and another seven by-law proposals. The four least likely to put you to sleep:

* A dramatic overhaul of the current instant replay system. The Buffalo Bills have proposed getting rid of the current coaches’ challenge system and going to a system similar to the colleges, which relies on a replay official up in the booth to overturn incorrect calls. The purpose of the proposal would be to speed up the game and eliminate those fun under-the-hood reviews by the on-field referee.

* Expansion of the league’s playoff overtime rule to the regular season. The current overtime rule in the postseason allows both teams at least one possession if the team that receives the overtime kickoff doesn’t score a touchdown. That’s different than the current first-team-that-scores-wins overtime rule in the regular season.

* The automatic review of all plays involving turnovers. Currently, those plays only can be reviewed if a coach challenges the on-field call. Last year, the league began having a replay official in the booth review all scoring plays. This would add turnovers to the expanded list.

* In an attempt to increase in-season trade activity and make football more like baseball and basketball, the owners will consider a proposal to move back the trade deadline from the sixth week of the season to Week 8.

It’s extremely unlikely that the Bills’ proposal to revamp instant replay will get enough support, but McKay said it will definitely generate a lot of discussion.

``(The Bills’) theory is it would speed up the review process by following the college model,’’ McKay said. ``The thing about our system is, we developed our system based on our experience the last team when we had the old system of replay. That’s how we developed the idea of the referee being the decision-maker.

When the NFL initially implemented instant replay in the 1980s, it used a replay official in the booth to review all calls. But it was determined that it slowed things down.

The expansion of the overtime rule to the regular season likely will pass. It has the support of the league’s coaches.

The proposal to move the trade deadline back two weeks is interesting. When the league made a change in the new collective bargaining agreement last June which eliminated the automatic acceleration of the salary cap count on trades, it thought it would prompt more trades.

``There’s a lot of talk about (trades), but not many transactions because of the nature of our sport being a team sport,’’ McKay said. ``Our thought was that potentially there could be more trades now because of the adjustment of the cap. This is a way to give people a little more leeway (to make deals).”