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The Eagles keep proposing a rule change for onside kick alternative

The Eagles keep proposing a rule change for onside kick alternative originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles are again proposing a rule to create an alternative to the rarely converted onside kick.

The NFL on Wednesday released the full list of rule and bylaw proposals and the Eagles are again trying to get a rule passed that would give teams a way to retain possession after scoring that isn’t an onside kick, which has become next-to-impossible to pull off in recent seasons.

Before the 2018 rule changes to kickoffs, the recovery rate for onside kicks was 13.8% but it has dropped below 6% these days, according to NFL Operations.

A form of this rule change proposal first appeared from the Broncos in 2019 but since then the Eagles have spearheaded attempts to find an onside kick alternative, with failed proposals in 2020, 2021 and 2023.

The Broncos’ rule from 2019 called for a team to face a 4th-and-15 attempt from its own 35-yard line in order to maintain possession. In the years since, forms of this rule change proposal have come forward but the line of scrimmage and distance have changed. The Eagles’ first proposal in 2020 was a 4th-and-15 from the 25.

Still, the rule hasn’t been able to gain support and 24 of 32 owners (75%) need to approve a rule to pass.

This time, the Eagles didn’t even change their proposal from last year. It’s the same proposal again. Perhaps they just want to keep it on the minds of those in the competition committee. But based on the same proposal failing last year, it seems unlikely it will pass in 2024.

Here’s a reminder of the important parameters of the Eagles’ onside kick alternative rule:

• The attempt is now a 4th-and-20 from the team’s own 20-yard line. The line to gain is the 40.

• A team can attempt such a conversion no more than two times during a game and must be trailing in order to attempt.

• The team most notify the referee of its decision to make an attempt.

• If the offense picks up the first down, it’s their ball and play continues. If they don’t, the defense takes over.

• If the offense is penalized on the 4th-and-20 they can’t change their minds and decide to kick.

• This is just an alternative. Teams are still able to attempt a traditional onside kick at any other point in a game.

The Eagles list this rule change proposal under “competitive equity and fan engagement” and will be up for discussion later this month at the NFL’s league meetings in Orlando.

The other rule change proposals

• The Eagles also submitted another rule proposals (2 of the 4 are from them) that would eliminate the first touch spot after a receiving team on a kick/punt possesses the ball, citing player safety.

• The Lions proposed a rule that would award a coach a third challenge if either of their first two challenges was successful. Right now they need to be successful on both to earn a third.

• The Colts proposed that coaches or replay officials (inside 2 minutes) can challenge any penalty call. The tricky part here is that many penalties are subjective.

Bylaw/resolution proposals

• The Eagles are one of seven teams to propose moving back the NFL trade deadline. The Steelers want it moved back to the Tuesday after Week 9, while the Eagles, Browns, Lions, Jets, 49ers and Commanders proposed moving back to after Week 10.

• The Eagles also submitted a resolution proposal to require game clocks to display tenths of seconds for the final 60 seconds of each half.

• The Bills want to expand the emergency QB rule so that a team can elevate a practice squad QB to be the emergency third QB.

• The Lions proposed a bylaw change to allow players to return from IR by going directly to the active list instead of waiting a day. They also proposed that teams are not limited in returning players from IR in the playoffs.

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