Meeting Mania

Meeting Mania

Jay Adams

Published March 26, 2012 at 9:51 AM

The NFL’s annual owners meetings get underway this morning in Palm Beach, Fla., and while this set of meetings is way less eventful than the ones that took place last year (see: lockout), there’s still plenty on the docket to keep the NFL’s 32 owners busy for the next few days as they render decisions on a number of topics.

Of course, the most talked-about topic will likely be the penalties handed down by the league for the Saints’ bounty scandal and how that will affect the league’s player safety initiatives going forward, but rule change proposals will also be voted on.

If you recall, I went over some of the more interesting proposals last week when Falcons president & CEO and chairman of the league’s Competition Committee Rich McKay held a conference call with the media to discuss the new ideas.

This morning, NFL.com’s Albert Breer posts his 10 things to watch from the annual owners meetings and he points out several of the things we mentioned here last week, but adds on with some more juicy details that could come from the meetings. Since they kickoff today, let’s get into some detail:

1. Breer thinks the proposal to change the overtime format will go through
Last year, this was one of those changes that, in an otherwise normal offseason, would have been much bigger than it was. The overtime format for playoff games was changed to a pretty convoluted system in which both teams will be ensured one possession in the extra period, unless, of course, the initial receiving team scores a touchdown on its first play of overtime. You can thank Tim Tebow for showing us that. Anyway, the proposal on the table this year is that the new format extend to the regular season. Breer thinks this one is a slam dunk to go through, as coaches often like to be able to prepare for any potential playoff scenarios during the regular season.

2. Injured reserve player designated for return
Every year, I get the same question about injured reserve, and it’s a valid one. If you remember back to 2010, former Falcons running back Jerious Norwood was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee during a Week 2 matchup. When the Falcons finished the regular season and started preparing for the playoffs, the questions came in: “Can Norwood return now that we’re in the postseason?” The answer was no. Once a player hits injured reserve, he’s off limits until the following season. However, a new proposal may change all that. Sort of. The proposal on the table says that teams can place a player on IR with a “designated to return” tag, which can only be used once per year and allows the player to come back to practice after six weeks and the participate in games after eight. How would this make sense? Last season, Sam Baker went down with a back injury that would hold him out for a significant period of time, but not long enough to merit hitting season-ending injured reserve. Under the potentially new rule, the Falcons could have put Baker on IR with the “designated to return” tag, signed another player for the interim and then had Baker back after the six- and eight-week requirements.

3. NFL is looking for more excitement around the trade deadline
If you’re interested in baseball, basketball or hockey at all, you’ll know that one of the biggest points of the season comes as the trade deadlines approach. In the NFL, that’s not so much the case. The trade deadline comes and goes in Week 6 with nary a whimper from teams looking to unload or add players. There’s a proposal on the table to change that. In baseball, hockey and basketball, the deadline is more toward the true middle of the season, meaning that teams have seen players enough to know whether they want to keep them or not. For the NFL, it’s so early that teams would really have to take a risk on letting a player go after seeing him for only six weeks of regular season games. The new proposal would move the trade deadline back to Week 8, which should allow for plenty of all-day ESPN and NFL Network specials on who could be going where when the trade deadline rolls around.

4. Rosters could become bigger
At the end of each season, I’ll go and announced that the Falcons have signed so-and-so and it will undoubtedly be met with “WHO?!” There are a few reasons why unknown players are signed to rosters right after the season: 1. Think about this: Brent Grimes and Tyson Clabo were once “unknown” players; 2. With the expanded roster size from last year, teams need to fill out the camp roster. Last year, teams were allowed to carry 90 players into camp. By the first game of the season, that number had to be 53, so we’re talking about 37 players who have to be added to fill out your camp roster. The current rule now says teams can take 80 into camp, but the proposal to expand it to 90 like last season is on the table. This means way more players to get autographs from at training camp, but it also means that teams can get better looks at more players before cuts and it means that slam-dunk starters don’t have to take as many reps during camp and risk more injury.

We’ll see in the coming days how different the game will look in 2012.

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