Skip to main content

All the Changes to the NFL's Rules for Next Season: New Rules, Bylaws and Resolution for 2018

There were some significant changes made to the NFL rule book this offseason.

At the NFL Annual League Meeting this year from March 25-28, team owners voted on rule changes that will be implemented next season.

From rules regarding free-kicks, overtime turnovers, targeting to catches, there have been some major modifications to some critical NFL rules.

In addition to in-game rules, owners also adjusted some league bylaws concerning players on injured reserve and draft-eligible players visiting team facilities.

Check out all of the rule changes for 2018 below.

Playing Rules

• The spot of the next snap after a touchback on a free-kick will now be the 25-yard line.

• The standard for a catch has changed so that a catch will be considered completed when the receiver gets control of the ball, gets two feet or another body part on the ground inbounds and completes a football move (third step, reach/extending for the line-to-gain, or having the ability to do so).

• The penalties for illegal batting and illegal kicking will both be 10 yards.

• A designated member of the officiating department will be able to instruct on-field officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that is called on the play.

• When a team wins a game with a touchdown as time expires in regulation, the team will no longer have to try an extra point or two-point conversion.

• When the first team to posses the ball in overtime makes a field goal, and the second team to posses the ball fumbles the ball or throws and interception, the play will run its conclusion, including awarding points scored to either team.

• Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul.

SI TV on Amazon channels


• Makes permanent the liberalization of rules for timing, testing and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a team’s facility.

• For one year, a player assigned to waivers can be re-signed by the same team that placed the player on waivers at any point after becoming a free agent and the player must appear on the active list for the team that waived the player and the team that claimed the player for at least one game each.

• Teams can trade players on injured reserve.

• Eliminates the requirement that a non-vested player be placed on waivers to be removed from the 90-player roster prior to the roster reduction to 53 players.

• Changes the 10-day postseason waiver claiming period to a 24-hour period.

• A player designated to return from injured reserve or non-football injury reserve is eligible to be activated after eight games instead of eight weeks.

• The period to execute an injury settlement is extended from five days to seven days.

• Players on specific reserve lists (retired, did not report and veteran free agent asked to re-sign) cannot be reinstated after a team's Week 13 game instead of the last 30 days of the regular season, and a team must request approval from the commissioner if it wants to reinstate the player between the trade deadline and Week 13 instead of between the trade deadline and the last 30 days of the regular season.

• A player who is under contract with a team for the current season and released from military service after the trade deadline and returns to the team looking to be reinstated to the active list can be placed on the exempt list for the remainder of the regular season and postseason, but such player can be reinstated to the active list for the postseason.


• For one year, a team can contact a vested veteran before teams have been notified of the player's termination via the player personnel notice if the player was not placed on waivers and the team releasing the player has publicly announced it.

In addition to these rules, the owners will also address possible disqualifications for when players lower their head to initiate contact with the helmet and a proposed rule that was tabled that will allow assistant coaches to be hired as head coaches of a new team while their current team is still in the postseason during the Spring League Meeting from May 21-23.