NFL owners reject onside kick alternative proposal

There will be no changes to the onside kick this season despite the best efforts of the Denver Broncos and the competition committee.

NFL owners rejected a proposal, proposed by Denver, "to provide an alternative onside kick that would allow a team who is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring," NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday from the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix.

The alternative would have afforded teams the opportunity, a maximum of once per game during the fourth quarter only, to convert a fourth-and-15 from its own 35-yard line in lieu of attempting an onside kick.

This proposal was reportedly popular among members of the competition committee. On Sunday, it received just one no-vote (Giants co-owner John Mara) from the eight members. Mara found the alternative gimmicky, saying, "What are we, the Arena Football League?"

The competition committee members reportedly believed the fourth-and-15 attempt could've been a fun option for teams, given that rule changes designed to make the kickoff safer have all but eliminated the chance to successfully execute an onside kick.

From 1992 to 2017, 21.2 percent of onside kicks were recovered, per NFL Research. In 2018, after owners passed a rule restricting players from lining up more than one yard from the point of the kickoff, just four of 52 onside kick attempts were recovered (7.7 percent).

On Tuesday afternoon, the owners shot the proposal down. It's unclear what the vote tally was among the 32 chiefs, but the playing rule change did not receive the 24 votes needed to pass.

However, these playing rules were adopted:

  1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the kickoff rule changes that were implemented during the 2018 season.
  1. By Competition Committee; Expands protection to a defenseless player.
  1. By Competition Committee; Changes the enforcement of double fouls when there is a change of possession.
  1. By Competition Committee; Simplifies the application of scrimmage kick rules for missed field goals.
  1. By Competition Committee; Allows teams to elect to enforce on the succeeding try or on the succeeding free kick an opponent's personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.
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