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Overtime options highlight 2022 rule change proposals

Examining the changes that some teams want to make to the NFL rule book this season.

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When New England beat the Chiefs at Kansas City three years ago in one of the most thrilling AFC Championship Games ever, many non-Patriots fans expressed disappointment that the home team didn't get to possess the ball during the overtime period that decided the seesaw contest. However, according to NFL rules, the team that gets the ball first can end the game immediately if it scores a touchdown on its opening possession of overtime, which is what the Patriots did that night in January 2019.

The chorus of howls grew significantly louder this past postseason, though, when the Chiefs found themselves on the winning end of such an outcome. In another fantastic football game at Arrowhead Stadium, K.C. upended the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round this past January by scoring a touchdown on its opening possession of the playoff game that went into OT.

Now, three teams have submitted proposals to alter the overtime rules. Indianapolis and Philadelphia have teamed up on a proposal that would allow both teams in any overtime contest to have an offensive possession (unless the team that's on defense first scores a safety during the opening drive, which is already part of the exiting rule).

Meanwhile, former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, now head coach of the Tennessee Titans, is putting forth his own modification idea, which would keep the existing overtime rule mostly in place. The only change would be that an overtime could only end after the first possession if the team with the ball first scores a touchdown AND a successful two-point conversion. So, in the aforementioned cases of the Chiefs this past January and the Patriots three years ago, the overtime period would have continued if neither K.C. nor New England had scored eight points right off the bat.

These two proposals will be up for debate when clubs gather in Palm Beach, Florida later this month for the National Football League's 2022 Annual Meeting.

Only one other rule change proposal has been submitted, and it came from a collaboration of teams. Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay are asking that player personnel employees (that is, members of scouting departments) be required to stay with their existing clubs through the annual NFL Draft before they can interview and accept offers for higher positions with other clubs in any given offseason. As it stands, such scouts can move on to other places as soon as the regular season ends and we get into the postseason and early offseason.

For now, these three ideas are all that are on the table for discussion. Normally, we see half a dozen or more proposals submitted by teams, making this an outlier in that regard. It's possible the NFL's Competition Committee could add to this current list of proposals before the Annual Meeting, scheduled for March 27-30.

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