Twelve new helmets to be offered to players for 2024 season

By Judy Battista, Senior National Columnist

NFL players will have 12 new helmets — including eight that are made specifically for linemen and quarterbacks — to choose from next season, as the pace of helmet innovation increases and more manufacturers offer the specialized helmets.

Five of the new helmets for 2024 performed better in laboratory tests conducted jointly by the league and the NFL Players Association than any helmet that has ever been worn in the NFL, according to the league and the players association. Quarterbacks will have a choice between two helmets — one made by Vicis, one made by Riddell — designed specifically to reduce the impact of blows they suffer when their heads hit the ground, which causes most quarterback concussions.

“Having more options in different styles, even from the outside and the inside of the helmet, that’s going to be a big thing for players deciding to adopt these helmets,” said Dr. Annie Bailey Good, senior mechanical engineer for Biocore, which conducts the laboratory tests of the helmets.

Last season, when the first quarterback-specific helmet was introduced, nine quarterbacks — not all of them starters — wore it. Twenty offensive and defensive linemen wore the helmets designed specifically to reduce the impact of the blows they are most likely to receive, to the forehead and front of the helmet. During the next round of testing, helmet performance for the types of hits sustained by defensive backs and wide receivers will also be measured. The hope is that in 2025 there will be information for those position groups about which helmets perform best for them.

Position-specific helmets were first introduced in 2022 for linemen, and players have so far been slow to the embrace them, with concerns about how the new helmets fit, feel and look among the reasons for their reluctance.

“Obviously we want to increase those numbers because these helmets perform so well in the lab testing,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications public affairs and policy. “And there are enough different models now and manufacturers making those models that hopefully players will be able to find one they really like, that fit them well so that they wear them throughout the season. That’s going to be a big point of emphasis with the coaches, athletic trainers, players this off-season to get them into some of the newer, better-performing helmets.”

Each season, the NFL and the NFLPA produce a poster that shows how helmets rank based on their performance in lab tests and also lists helmets that are not recommended for use by NFL players and some that are prohibited. This season, there will be also be three individual posters — for offensive linemen, defensive linemen and quarterbacks — to help educate players about their helmet choices.

  • Riddell Axiom 3D QB
  • Riddell Axiom 3D
  • Riddell Axiom 3D OL/DL
  • VICIS Zero2 Trench Matrix ID 2024
  • VICIS Zero2 Trench LP Matrix ID 2024
  • Xenith Orbit Pro

Some players complained that the caps were hot, especially during summer practices, and the exemption could be an incentive for players to choose the higher performing helmets.

Six helmets are newly prohibited his year and five more have been moved to the “not recommended” category. All of them were considered top performing helmets just a few years ago, another reflection on how quickly technology — in design and in materials — is changing helmets.

One helmet this year — the Xenith Orbit Pro, which is one of the top performing helmets — is a half-pound lighter than other helmets. And more dramatic changes are likely on the way in coming years, with the face mask an area expected to see significant changes.

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