NFL Competition Committee discussed XFL kickoff, could propose version for vote at Annual League Meeting

NFL kickoffs could be in line for more tweaking this offseason.

The Competition Committee has discussed the XFL kickoff at length and could propose a version of the XFL model for a vote during the Annual League Meeting from March 24-27, NFL Network’s Judy Battista reported on Sunday, per a source.

Rich McKay, the chairman of the Competition Committee, did not commit to a change definitely happening in 2024 and would want the new rule ready for consideration a month from now if it’s to be proposed — rather than hashed out during meetings between coaches and owners — according to Battista.

Part of the reason for another desired change to the kickoff formula is to find the best balance between safety, including the reduction of high-speed collisions, and maintaining returns as a part of the game.

In May 2023, NFL owners approved a one-year rule change that allowed returners to fair catch any kick behind their own 25-yard line and begin the ensuing possession on the 25.

Only 22% of kickoffs were returned last season. As noted by Battista, all 13 of the kickoffs in Super Bowl LVIII resulted in touchbacks.

The aforementioned XFL model has the kicker kicking from the 30-yard line, while the rest of the kickoff team begins at the opposite 35-yard line, separated from 10 members of the receiving team by 5 yards. Apart from the kicker and the returner, none of the other special teamers are allowed to move until the ball is fielded.

That differs greatly from the current NFL kickoff, which is set at the 35-yard line, where the kickoff team is also lined up, and allows both teams to move and gather steam once the ball is kicked.

To approve a rule change to something closer to the XFL model will require 24 votes in favor — a high bar.

“We have to be open-minded enough to say can we bring plays back in the game that have gone out of the game,” said McKay, who also revealed special teams coaches will have a role in coming up with the new proposal.

The committee will convene again Monday and in the weeks leading up to the Annual League Meeting, and will also discuss hip-drop tackles and the tush-push play.

According to Battista, the committee is still working on the right language regarding hip-drop tackles but is aligned in removing it from the game.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major