Report: NFL owners reject rule change for onside kick alternative

By Matt Johnson
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners voted against a rule change on Thursday that would create an alternative to the onside kick beginning in the 2020 season.

The proposal, submitted by the Philadelphia Eagles in March, was tweaked by the league on Wednesday to help gain more support for the major rule change. However, owners still voted against the measure and to table it for further discussions at a later date.

NFL owners reject the fourth-and-15 rule change

The proposal would have allowed the kicking team an opportunity for a fourth-and-15 attempt from their 25-yard line. The alternative to the onside kick could only be attempted in regulation and done no more than twice during a game.

The idea started gaining significant momentum a week before the owners’ virtual meeting. Among the supporters, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes expressed his approval for the NFL’s onside kick alternative after it was proposed. Ultimately, NFL owners opted against the proposal for the time being.

The decision was made despite the fact that NFL teams converted only 12.7%, (8-of-63 attempts), during the 2019 season, according to NFL.com.

How does the onside kick alternative work?

Under the proposed rule, the team must alert a game official before going for the fourth-and-15 attempt. The play clock will be set to 25, but the clock will not start until the next snap occurs.

If the offense committed a taunting foul after their touchdown and wants to attempt the fourth-and-15, the football will be moved to their 13.5-yard line. If the defense is called for a foul due to unnecessary roughness on the touchdown, the kicking team can move the fourth-and-15 attempt to their 40-yard line.

In the event the offensive team commits a penalty during their fourth-and-15 attempt, such as pass interference, it will be assessed on the play. However, the team can’t choose to kickoff after the penalty is enforced.

While the new rule would have brought more excitement to games this season, we will now have to wait and hope it gets a shot at a later date.