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NFL trade deadline moving back? Hot topics at league meetings

ATLANTA -- The last time NFL owners converged on Atlanta for a set of meetings similar to this, tensions mounted and electricity flooded the hotel lobby as last year's labor dispute reached its peak.

This week, we're not expecting anything close to that.

Instead, for the first time in several years, the collective bargaining agreement remains firmly in place. The owners instead will spend Tuesday's meeting (many will arrive Monday) discussing several rules proposals that were tabled at the March meeting in Palm Beach.

Specifically, they'll vote on the possibility of requiring hip, thigh and knee pads starting in 2013, in addition to a tweak to the trade deadline, which might be extended by about two weeks, from Week 6 to Week 8.

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Though none of the proposals should have a profound impact on the fan's perspective of the game, one NFL general manager said he's all for the extended trade deadline. The proposed change would give teams a little more time to see where they stand in the playoff mix before making potential roster adjustments.

Originally, the owners also planned to discuss a new rule that would provide an extra roster spot for a player who has been diagnosed with a concussion, but a league source said they've taken that proposal off the agenda for this week. It's probable that it will be discussed at a later time. An NFL GM expressed some concern about that possible rule (although he expected it to eventually pass), since he believes it could potentially be abused to make room for players at positional needs for a given week.

The league also will discuss a potential rule that would allow a team to return one player from injured reserve to the active roster by a certain point in the season. This rule received some attention during the March meeting, but the competition committee and the owners decided to wait before passing it.

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Despite the drama of last year's July meetings in Atlanta, this week's agenda is much more like the standard meetings typical for this time of year.

Requiring players to wear certain leg pads might be among the rules that could face complaints from some -- mostly wide receivers, who want the ability to choose whether or not to wear pads that could deter their speed. Nonetheless, as commissioner Roger Goodell continues to search for ways to make the game safer, it certainly seems realistic that the rule will indeed be passed.

The owners already voted on the more significant rules changes back in March, including a failed proposal to send all replay reviews to the booth and a passed proposal to expand the new overtime rules from just the playoffs to the entire regular season. The league also passed a rule in March that will cause all turnovers to be reviewed (without requiring a coach's challenge).

As always, all proposals on Tuesday will require 24 of 32 votes (75 percent) for approval.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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