2023 NFL rule changes explained

The NFL’s annual meeting took place March 26–29, and each team presented its proposals for rules, bylaws, and playing proposals for the upcoming season. On March 27, the NFL approved a combination of 17 game rules, bylaws and resolutions. Here’s everything to know about what the NFL did and didn’t do this past Tuesday, and what the biggest NFL rule changes will be for the 2023 NFL season.

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2023 Sanctioned Sports Rules

Rule Changes: Players may wear zero (0) as a jersey number; Kickers and punters may use any jersey number between 0–49 and 90–99.

  • Revised Rules: Rule 5, Section 1, Paragraph 2. Rule change proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rule Changes: The referees shall adjust the play clock following an immediate replay reversal in the same manner as they would any other game stoppage. In such situations, players no longer have to signal to the referee for much longer.

  • Revised Rules: Rule 4, section 6, paragraph 3 and section 7, paragraph 4. Proposed rule change by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Rule Changes: The replay official will automatically be allowed to review a close failed fourth-down attempt. The teams would not have to challenge if there were close games. This will help speed up the game as the replay official has automatic review jurisdiction.

  • Revised Rules: Rule 15, Section 1, Para 2. Proposed rule change by the Houston Texans.

Rule Changes: A launch occurs when a player drops one or both feet to make a tackle. A launch is already a personal foul (15-yard penalty).

  • The Competition Committee proposed to change the definition of launch.

Rule Changes: A player may be called for tripping, which results in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.

  • The competition committee proposed making tripping a personal foul.

Rule Changes: Teams will be penalized for handing the ball-off forward. The hand-off must be behind the quarterback or on par with the quarterback.

  • The Competition Committee proposed handing football forwards the same as illegal forward passes.

Rule Changes: An illegal punt, drop kick, or place kick will now result in the same result as an illegal forward pass.

  • The Competition Committee proposed that an illegal punt, drop kick, or place kick result in the loss of a down in place of a foul, similar to an illegal forward pass.

Rule Changes: Offenses shall not be allowed to go untimely due to offensive penalties after the timeout at the half.

  • The Competition Committee proposed not allowing the offense to gain an advantage with an additional play before halftime due to offensive penalties.

Rule Changes: The words, “butt, ram, javelin,” shall be deleted from Article 8 and similar words shall be added to the penalty for “impermissible use of helmet.”

  • The Competition Committee proposed to clarify the use of a helmet against an opponent.

2023 Approved Bylaws

Rule Changes: Players waived on Friday and Saturday of the final week of the regular season will be allowed to claim the following Monday.

  • The Competition Committee proposed allowing these players to be claimed on Monday so that teams could add them to their rosters the week before the playoffs and thus be eligible to play.

Rule Changes: The strength of the win is the second tiebreaker for awarding the contract.

  • The competition committee proposed strength of wins as the second tiebreaker for awarding contracts compared to the previous tiebreaker of conference records.

Rule Changes: Post season signings would account for the standard upgrade rule. Post-season rosters will freeze at 4 PM ET on the Wednesday following the final week of the regular season.

  • The Competition Committee proposed clarifying a new schedule to allow leagues and teams to better account for their post-season rosters and to finalize playoff rosters.

2023 Approved resolution

Rule Changes: The regular season and post season roster transaction deadlines will be the same. Post-season Saturday night games will have a transaction deadline of 4 p.m. ET that same Saturday.

  • The Competition Committee proposed that teams making last-minute decisions be allowed to extend the regular season until after the season.

Rule Changes: Teams will need to provide more clarity regarding a player’s availability for a game.

  • Offered by the Los Angeles Chargers. No specific language, teams just need to be clear on who is playing and who is not.

Rule Changes: NFL rosters will remain at 90 during the entire preseason and will then have one day to trim rosters from 90 to 53.

  • Proposed by 25 NFL teams, it would establish a pre-season roster cut date and associated procedures.


Failed Rule Changes: To allow the roughing passer to make a reviewable call.

  • The move, proposed by the Los Angeles Rams, comes in response to several instances from the previous season where rough passers were fined on quarterback hits or sacks that looked like fairly normal tackles.

Failed Rule Changes: allowing teams to go for it on fourth and 20 after a score rather than an onside kick.

  • Comes in response to an all-time low rate of 4% onside kicks, proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Failed Rule Changes: to revive the gameday roster spot rule that allowed teams to have an emergency passer that did not count towards the roster.

  • Proposed by the Detroit Lions, most likely in response to the San Francisco 49ers losing every quarterback on their roster in the NFC Championship Game.

These include all NFL rule changes for 2023 that could affect games this season. The NFL hopes that none of that causes controversy.

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