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NFL teams unanimously approve simplified catch rule

The NFL has a new catch rule.

League owners approved modifications to the catch rule for the 2018 season during the Annual League Meeting on Tuesday. The changes passed unanimously on a 32-0 vote, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Earlier in the week, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron announced the Competition Committee's recommendation for simplifying the language of the catch rule.

The new rules defining a catch include:

  1. Control of the ball.
    1. Two feet down or another body part.
    2. A football move such as:
      » A third step;
      » Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain;
      » Or the ability to perform such an act.

The key change to the rule eliminated the "going-to-the-ground" element of the previous rule.

The NFL hopes the new rule will eradicate some of the frustration fans, coaches and players had with apparent catches -- like Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant's against Green Bay in the 2014 playoffs, or Steelers tight end Jesse James' reversed TD against the Patriots this past season -- being deemed incomplete.

The rule change won't remove all the gray areas in the rule, nor nullify all confusion. Most also expect the new definition to result in an uptick in fumbles. However, it's a significant step in clarifying a rule that confounded everyone involved in the NFL for years.

The unanimous vote signifies owners were fully onboard with the new solution.

In other league rule news, owners decided to table what has been branded the "Josh McDaniels Rule", which would have allowed assistants to be hired while their teams are still in postseason. Expect this to be a topic during the Spring League Meeting in May.

NFL Network's Judy Battista also reports that the Jets withdrew their proposal to make defensive pass interference a 15-yard penalty rather than a spot foul.

Here's the full list of rules approved by owners Tuesday:

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