As the 2016 NFL Owners Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida , come to an end, a list of nine new rule changes has been passed. The rule changes, which were recommended by the league’s Competition Committee, will go into effect immediately for the 2016 season.
Two of the biggest changes were announced on Wednesday, though it’s important to note that both will be on a one-year trial basis. The first new rule to go into effect is that if any player picks up two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, he will automatically get ejected from the game. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are not the same as personal fouls, but multiple offenses in the same game will mean the flagged player will have to watch the rest of the game from the locker room.
The other major move is that touchbacks will now result in the ball be placed on the returning team’s 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line. The reason for this rule is player safety, with the league looking to see more players take a knee rather than returning the ball. However, this new rule could result in kickers throughout the league hitting shorter, higher kicks aimed at the goal line rather than just drilling the ball out of the back of the end zone.
On Tuesday, seven other rule changes were adopted on a permanent basis. Starting in 2016, all chop blocks will now draw a penalty. A chop block occurs when a defender is blocked from the thigh or lower while already engaged above the waist with another member of the offense.
The horse collar penalty rule was also expanded to include any time a defender grabs a runner by the nameplate or higher and pulls them to the group. In the past, defenders had to have their hand inside the runner’s shoulder pads in order to draw a flag.
Also of note, the line of scrimmage for extra point attempts has been permanently moved to the 15-yard line after last year’s trial period.