NFL approves radical overhaul to kickoff rule

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jamal Agnew (39) returns a kickoff during the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars on January 14, 2023 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

The NFL has approved a new change to the kickoff rule. This new policy takes what has become a "a dead play" and makes it a vital part of the game again.

On Tuesday, team owners approved the new rule which uses parts of the kickoff rules used in the XFL and modifies them for use in the NFL starting in 2024. 

Under the league’s current kickoff policy, any touchback — or if a returner calls for a fair catch in the field of play — results in the receiving team getting the ball at its 25-yard line.

According to the Associated Press, this new rule will be in play for a season for a trial run and could be revived in 2025. 

RELATED: NFL bans hip-drop tackles, despite NFLPA opposition

This announcement of the kickoff rule comes after the league banned hip-drop tackles. 

How will the new NFL kickoff rule work?

For a standard kickoff, the ball will be kicked from the 35-yard line with the 10 kick coverage players lined up at the opposing 40, with five on each side of the field.

The return team would have nine blockers lined up in the "set up zone" between the 30- and 35-yard line, with at least seven of players touching the 35-yard line, and there would be two returners allowed inside the 20-yard line, according to the Associated Press. 

Only the kicker and two returners can move until the ball hits the ground or is touched by a returner inside the 20-yard line. 

And a kick that hits the end zone in the air can be returned, or the receiving team can choose a touchback and possession at the 30-yard-line. Any kick that reaches the end zone in the air and goes out of bounds or out of the end zone also would result in a touchback at the 30-yard line.

Additionally, if a ball makes contact with a returner or the ground before the end zone and goes into the end zone, a touchback would be at the 20-yard line, or the play could be returned. Any kick received in the field of play would have to be returned.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  This story was reported from Washington, D.C.