NFL kickoff rule change approved for 2024 in drastic change

NFL kickoff rule change approved for 2024 in drastic change
NFL kickoff rule change approved for 2024 in drastic change

NFL

ORLANDO, Fla. – Kickoff returns are back in the NFL.

Team owners on Tuesday approved a new rule that will take what has essentially become a «dead play» and make it an integral part of the game again, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the change.

The special teams overhaul — which has been in the works for years — takes elements of the kickoff rules used in the XFL and modifies them for use in the NFL starting in 2024. The rule will be in effect for one season on a trial basis and then subject to renewal in 2025.

For a standard kickoff, the ball will be kicked from the 35-yard line with the 10 punt returners lined up at the opposing 40, with five on each side of the field.

The return team will have at least nine blockers lined up in the «setting zone» between the 30- and 35-yard lines, with at least seven of those players touching the 35. There will be up to two returners inside the 20.

Only the kicker and two returners will be allowed to move until the ball hits the ground or is touched by a returner inside the 20.

For a standard kickoff, the ball will be kicked from the 35-yard line with the 10 punt returners lined up at the opposing 40, with five on each side of the field. NFL
The return team will have at least nine blockers lined up in the «setting zone» between the 30- and 35-yard lines, with at least seven of those players touching the 35. There will be up to two returners inside the 20. NFL

Any punt that reaches the end zone in the air can be returned, or the receiving team can elect a touchback and possession at the 30. Any punt that reaches the end zone in the air and goes out of bounds or out of the end zone would also result in a touchback at the 30 .

If a ball hits a returner or the ground before the end zone and goes into the end zone, the touchback will be at the 20 or the play may be returned. Any kick received in the field of play must be returned.

Under current rules, any touchback — or if a returner calls a fair catch in the field of play — results in the receiving team receiving the ball at its own 25.

Chiefs’ Harrison Butker prepares for the 2024 Super Bowl opener. Getty Images

«This is our chance to keep special teams in the game,» NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay said Monday, calling the current kickoff a dead game. “Special teams have been a part of the game forever. And if you lose the kickoff, in our opinion, you really eliminate the special teams and make it a punt.»

The motion needed 24 of 32 votes to pass.




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