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NFL owners pass rule expanding eligible jersey numbers for certain positions

NFL fans, get ready for a trove of jersey number change fun.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that NFL owners approved the proposal on changes to jersey numbers, per sources informed of the situation.

The proposal, submitted by the Kansas City Chiefs, adjusted the restrictions on who can wear which jersey numbers. Specifically, the approval unlocks the number of players eligible to wear single-digit numbers, which had previously been relegated to QBs, kickers and punters.

The expanded jerseys will allow running backs, tight ends, fullbacks, H-backs and wide receivers to wear numbers 1-49 and 80-89; defensive backs can choose from 1-49; linebackers 1-59 and 90-99; offensive linemen 50-79; and defensive linemen 50-79 and 90-99. QBs, kickers and punters will remain in 1-19.

Expanded practice squads due to the COVID-19 led to some number issues for certain clubs last year, precipitating the number use change.

A plethora of players could look to change numbers, particularly skill position players and defensive backs who might move to single-digit numbers they wore in college or younger years.

Other issues undertaken by the clubs during Wednesday's meeting, per Pelissero:

  1. The league approved expanded booth-to-official communication. The hope is the increase in allowed communication will lead to fewer errors on objective calls that can be clearly seen on television.
  2. A onside kick proposal from the competition committee to limit the receiving team to players in the "setup zone" was approved. The hope is that the tweak will help make onside kicks easier for the kicking teams to recover.
  3. With the competition committee's proposal on onside kicks passing, the Eagles tabled their fourth-and-15 alternative. Pelissero noted that Philly still believes in its motion to add a fourth-and-15 option to retain possession but agreed to test out the onside kick change this year. The Eagles could bring back their proposal next year.
  4. Owners eliminated preseason overtime. It was a no-brainer change. Coaches often avoided tying preseason games late, but the rule ensures playing overtime won't be an option in exhibition games.
  5. The proposal to change the GM and head coach hiring cycles -- pushing back the start of interviews for all clubs until after conference championship games and no hires until after the Super Bowl -- was tabled for more discussion by the diversity committee, per Pelissero. The Buffalo Bills proposed the change to the cycle.
  6. Owners approved a rule proposed by Chicago to ensure the enforcement of all accepted penalties committed by either team during successive extra point try attempts.
  7. The league approved a rule propose by the Los Angeles Rams to add a loss of down to a penalty for a second forward pass from behind the line and for a pass thrown after the ball returns behind the line.

According to Pelissero, one point of emphasis in the NFL competition committee's report will be focused on taunting, per chairman Rich McKay. Pelissero adds that the feeling within the coaches' subcommittee is officials have gotten lax on players going face to face, standing over people, pointing fingers, etc. They won't focus so much on touchdown celebrations in this regard, but expect more flags to be thrown.

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