NFL reportedly expected to ban hip drop tackle ahead of 2024 season

The National Football League is often looking for new ways to reduce injuries and keep its biggest stars on the field. With more marquee names getting hurt on the same kind of play, the hip drop tackle reportedly could be banned before the 2024 season.

In advance of the NFL owners’ meeting, reports surfaced that league officials were looking into the hip-drop tackle that has injured multiple quarterbacks and a star running back within the last year. However, the NFL doesn’t currently have a defined example of what the tackle is.

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The first notable instance of the tackle causing an injury happened in the NFC Divisional Round matchup between the Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers. After catching a screen pass, Cowboys’ running back Tony Pollard’s leg was rolled over,with the defender’s hip landing on Pollard’s leg as he forcefully brought him to the ground and made the tackle.

Pollard was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and a broken leg caused by the injury, which he suffered in the second quarter of a 6-6 game. Not only did it prove costly for the Cowboys’ chances, it also nearly devastated the Kansas City Chiefs in the same playoffs.

Facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 7-7 game, Mahomes was taken down by edge rusher Arden Key. As Key brought Mahomes to the ground, the NFL MVP’s ankle was trapped under Key’s hip as he brought him down to the ground. After trying to play through the injury, Mahomes was pulled and it impacted him for the remainder of the team’s Super Bowl run.

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However, the NFL still wasn’t known to be contemplating a ban on the hip drop tackle this past offseason. That now seems to be changing after another injury scare that a Pro Bowl quarterback experienced this season.

What is the hip-drop tackle?

On Monday Night Football against the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith caught a deflected pass and started heading toward the sideline. Right on the verge of stepping out of bounds, Giants’ linebacker Isaiah Simmons grabbed Smith and brought him down by the Giants’ bench, with his body weight landing on Smith’s leg and twisting it with a high amount of force.

Smith suffered a knee injury, missing the next Seahawks’ drive before returning in the third quarter. While Seattle avoided losing its star quarterback for the remainder of the season, Smith’s injury scare seemed to be the final straw for the league.

NFL insiders Charles Robinson and Jori Epstein explained on the latest Yahoo Sports’ Inside Coverage podcast that the expectation around the league is the NFL will ban the hip-drop tackle this offseason.

“I definitely would expect a vote on it in the spring and, unless something changes, I would expect the vote to come and pass. Which, if it’s like the horse collar, would be 15 yards and automatic first down.”

Jori Epstein on the NFL’s likely vote on hip-drop tackle

“I texted with a team president right before the show and that was one of the things we were talking about. He said it’s gonna get passed. As long as they can figure out how to define it, he’s like, “If they can figure out how to define it so it’s not ambiguous on game day, they’ll be able to do it.”

Charles Robinson on a conversation with an NFL team president regarding a ban of the hip drop tackle

While the so-called hip-drop tackle has been a part of football for years, the NFL is focused entirely on the safety of its biggest stars. Losing a Mahomes, Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts would be devastating for the league. Star quarterbacks missing games hurt television ratings and that impacts long-term TV revenue. So, with teams wanting to protect the highest-paid NFL players, the hip-drop tackle will likely no longer be allowed after this season.

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