The NFL has announced four rule changes for the 2017 season.
Six years following the modification of sudden death overtime, the extra period has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10. The rule should improve player safety. To put things into perspective, there have been 83 overtime games since 2012, 22 of which lasted more than 10 minutes.
"We think this is an important change," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Particularly for teams that may be into an overtime situation, and a lengthy overtime situation, and have to come back and play on a Thursday night."
After discussions with players, coaches, officials, teams and fans, the NFL is relaxing their celebration rules to "allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays." Following a touchdown, using the football as a prop will be permitted as well as celebrating on the ground and group demonstrations. Despite the new approach, the league still has a line drawn in the sand.
"Offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent will still be penalized," a league statement said.
Goodell added, "The number one thing that I took away from the conversations with players is the incredible commitment they have to the game and the integrity of the game. They recognize that sportsmanship is an important thing for them to demonstrate on the field in large part because of the people who are watching, and also to keep high standards."
Instead of having two cut days where the summer roster is trimmed prior to the fourth preseason game from 90 to 75 and once again from 75 to 53 less than a week later, all teams will have one cutdown deadline, from 90 to 53, following their final preseason games. This change is expected to prevent injuries to key reserve players as most starters don't participate in the final preseason game.
Injured Reserve Eligible Players
Two players are now allowed to return from Injured Reserve as opposed to one. Players designated to return are eligible to practice after six weeks on IR and play after eight weeks. This allows players who suffer injuries at an early point of the season to come back for potentially significant games late in the season.