What are the new rules implemented for the 2022 NFL season?
Every year, the NFL makes changes to the game to improve it, keep players safe, or just make it more fair. This year sees an overdue change in OT rules.
It can be hard to keep up with all the rules the NFL has, but when they start changing them and adding more, adjusting others, it can seem impossible to keep up with. So let us lay some of the 2022 fresh new updates out for you. Actually, one of the changes made this year was quite welcomed - the playoff overtime rule change. More on that in a moment.
For all the little details of all the complex rules, the NFL has published its rule book here.
NFL 2022 rule changes
The helmet rule
This one was a subtle change. So subtle, we nearly didn’t catch it. In 2018, the NFL adopted a rule about a player lowering their helmet, and that if they initiated contact with another player, it would be considered a foul. They have just barely tweaked that for 2022. The rule now reads as follows:
“It is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
They have added the word “forcible”, but removed the part about the player initiating contact. This is a subtle, but important change since it could make it easier to prove the rule was broken. The NFL now uses an artificial intelligence program which identifies all instances in which a player’s helmet makes contact with another thing. Now, they don’t have to prove that it was “initiated” by someone.
Overtime playoff rule
The overtime rule has finally made a necessary change, although it currently only applies to the playoffs, which is a shame. At the end of the 2021 regular season, the Bills came back from a 21-point deficit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to force the game into overtime. The Bucs started on offense and when Tom Brady threw a toss to Breshad Perriman, who took it down the field and scored a touchdown. Game over. The victory was decided and the Bills didn’t even have a chance to touch the football. Thus, a change was born… but only to the playoffs. The revised rule says that both teams have to get at least one possession, unless the kicking team scores a safety. Then, the kicking team is the winner. Whichever team has more points after the possessions, that team wins. If the score is tied still, the next team to score will win, regardless.
Free kick formation rule
This rule was implemented in 2021 but as of 2022, it is now a permanent rule. It says that until the ball is kicked, all players on the receiving team need to be inbounds on the field and behind the restraining line. At least eight, but maximum nine players have to be between the restraining line and another spot 15 yards behind that line.
Roster cutdown date rules
Each NFL team is allowed to have 90 players on their team in the offseason, the only exception being if they have an international player (then it’s 91). By August 16, all teams must make their first roster cuts from 90 to 85, just after the first week of the preseason. On August 23, they have to make the next five cuts after the second round, from 85 to 80. Finally, by August 30, each team should have the limit for the regular season of 53 players on their team, in the final week of the preseason.
Roster size and practice squad rules
After the pandemic began, the rules to the roster size and practice squad changed, but some of those rules remain even now. When the final cuts are made and the regular season roster is at 53, the NFL teams will be allowed to have 16 players on the practice squad (up from 10 before), and as of 2022, that is now a permanent change. If a team chooses, they may activate two players from the practice squad on gameday and deactivate seven players for a roster of 48 players, at least 90 minutes before gametime. In this way, players can play one game and then go back to the practice squad the next day without having to go through the process of waivers or the risk of another team claiming them. Another change from last year is that players can now be elevated from the practice squad three times in one season (as opposed to just twice last year) before they must be signed to the 53-man roster.
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Approved resolution summary rule
This rule now allows teams to keep lower level personnel but still have the option of being hired by other teams to non-executive positions. This amends the Anti-Tampering Policy. The rule encourages more stability within the organization as well as fairness, but also preserves the opportunities for personnel to explore other positions.
Injured Reserve list rule
For the last two years, the NFL did not limit the amount pf players who could be placed on Injured Reserve, activated, and then placed back on Injured Reserve again. The player only needed to stay on IR at least three weeks. In 2022, they must remain on IR for four weeks. In addition to that, there is now a limit. Only eight players per team can return from the IR list. In 2020, that number was three before the pandemic. Any one player can return from the IR list twice in one season, but will count against the allotment of the eight each time.