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Preview: NFL Owners Meetings


The NFL owners meetings are in sunny Phoenix this year, and there will be plenty of sizzling news.

The league's competition committee, including Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, will discuss and present six rule change proposals. That's perhaps the biggest news of the meetings.

NFL head coaches will speak at a media brunch. Owners will be on hand discussing their vision for their teams. Executives can strike free agency deals.

Commissioner Roger Goodell will be giving his updates and opinions on league matters. Compensatory draft picks are also announced, giving a complete draft order.

It's a busy time, and here's what fans can look forward to:

Rule Changes

There are six rule proposals from the NFL competition committee:

Rule Proposal No. 1 (Instant Replay): Would allow plays to be reviewed even if a coach doesn't have a timeout or challenges a non-reviewable play. If a coach challenges a play but doesn't have a timeout, they would receive a 15-yard penalty. It's also proposed to make the ruling of an incomplete pass reviewable all the way through a fumble so if it's reversed and a fumble is deemed, it's clear who recovered the ball.

Rule Proposal No. 2 (Field goal and extra points): Would prevent teams from loading more than six defensive players on either side of the line around the snapper. Players would also not be allowed to push teammates through gaps. This would protect the snapper and potentially prevent injuries in the trenches.

Rule Proposal No. 3 (Tuck Rule): Would eliminate the Tuck Rule. It would be a fumble if the quarterback loses possession as he attempts to bring the ball back to his body. If the passer loses control of the ball as his arm is moving forward, it would still be an incomplete pass.

Rule Proposal No. 4 (Jersey numbers): Would allow tight ends and the H-backs to legally wear numbers 40-49. Currently, they are limited to 80-89.

Rule Proposal No. 5 (Peel-back block): Would make it no longer permissible for offensive players to block low on "peel-back blocks" (blocks an offensive player makes towards their own end line) anywhere on the field.

Rule Proposal No. 6 (Crown of the helmet hits): Would make it a penalty if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside of the tackle box. The NFL would be looking for the "obvious foul" and would not instruct referees to err on the side of caution.

Coaches Breakfast

Head Coach John Harbaugh and all the other AFC coaches will meet with the media Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. ET.

Harbaugh will field questions about the departure of several key players from his championship team, and give his take on whom he could see stepping into their positions. Since Harbaugh did not speak at the combine, it will be his first time talking to the media as a whole since shortly after the Super Bowl.

It's also a chance to hear from other coaches around the conference, and get their take on the Ravens' Super Bowl year and approach this offseason.

Compensatory Picks

NFL draft compensatory picks will be announced early on during owners meetings.

A team losing more or better free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four picks.

The Ravens got two picks last year, but will likely get more this offseason considering they lost Ben Grubbs (New Orleans), Jarret Johnson (San Diego), Cory Redding (Indianapolis), Tom Zbikowski (Indianapolis) and Haruki Nakamura (Carolina). They all started at least some games with their new teams.

Free Agency Meetings

The NFL is in the middle of the hot free agency period, and with many of the NFL decision-makers in Phoenix, agents are also descending upon the area. Agents will meet with executives to try to strike deals. The Ravens are reportedly set to meet with safety Ed Reed's representation while out west.

Roger Goodell Press Conferences

The NFL will announce the result of the voting on the six rule* *proposals Wednesday afternoon. Then Commissioner Roger Goodell will speak to the assembled media about that and other issues.

Goodell speaks to the media twice during the meetings, once near the beginning at 3 p.m. ET Monday and again at the end at 3:30 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Goodell usually speaks to large-picture issues facing the NFL, including* *player safety, expanding the season and initiatives abroad. The future of football is a hot topic considering current lawsuits from former players.

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