Gone Too Fair?
NFL Roundup: Kickoff Fair Catch Rule Updated; Austin Ekeler Stays in L.A; Extension for NFL Commish
Another special teams rule is being changed, the latest will take effect in 2023.
NFL owners on Tuesday approved a “fair catch” resolution on kickoffs that will place the ball at the 25-yard-line for this coming season.
The returner can signal for fair catch off either a kickoff or free kick following a safety but the fair catch must take place behind the 25-yard line for the ball to be placed at the 25.
The NFL has modified its kickoff rules over the past few years, citing player safety and data centering on concussions stemming from kickoffs.
There’s a belief in league circles that the NFL is moving closer to eliminating the kickoff altogether, which the league didn’t try to dissuade against.
Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL competition committee, on the kickoff: “We want to keep it in the game. I don’t know that we know we can keep it in the game…. We’ve just got to find ways to make the play safer.”
— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) May 23, 2023
The proposition first came in March during the league’s Competition Committee and tabled to discuss more. At the Spring League meeting, the rule became official.
The league has tried to make reformations that result in fewer kickoff returns, and therefore, fewer concussions.
“Ek” Of An Incentive
Austin Ekeler won’t be headed for the exits, now that he and the Chargers agreed to an incentive-laden contract restructure that could boost the running back’s earnings in 2023 by about $2 million.
Ekeler, whose 38 touchdowns the past two seasons are the NFL’s most, can earn $1.75 million more in “reachable incentives,” per ESPN, after he and the team revised Ekelers’ current deal.
After an off-season in which he requested to be traded, star RB Austin Ekeler is staying in LA and having close to $2 million in incentives added to his deal for this season, per source.
Win-win: Chargers keep their RB and Ekeler will be a free agent after this season at age 28. pic.twitter.com/UYF2h9rSWq
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 23, 2023
The agreement came after a turbulent offseason in which Ekeler asked to be traded and was given permission to seek a trade partner. Nothing materialized for him, leading to the current pact.
Ekeler, who turned 28 this month, will be a free agent at the end of the season unless the Chargers use the franchise tag to retain him.
Ekeler, a 2017 undrafted rookie from Western (Co.) State, has combined for nearly 3,200 yards from scrimmage the past two seasons and last year accounted for 1,637 yards from scrimmage.
Despite three seasons of at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage, Ekeler has never made a Pro Bowl.
The Broncos released nine-year kicker Brandon McManus, the last remaining player from the 2015 Super Bowl championship squad.
The team announced the release of the former Temple kicker and former Broncos captain on the day of their first OTA.
McManus, who turns 32 in July, made all 10 of his postseason field goals in 2015 en route to a Super Bowl title, including five attempts of 40 or more yards and all three in the Super Bowl.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is reportedly set to continue his role through 2027.
Colts owner Jim Irsay confirms that the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell are closing in on a deal to extend Goodell’s contract through March 2027.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 23, 2023
Among the major four professional sports leagues, Goodell is currently the second-longest tenured commissioner, beginning his run in 2006.
While the NFL has had its share of controversies during his time, Goodell has kept league profits at record-high numbers, and has in turn earned himself over $60 million a year.
– Benjamin Paul and Geoff Mosher contributed to this report for InsideTheBirds.com.
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