NFL adopting new kickoff rules in 2024

Super Bowl LVIII NFL
Grounds crew prepare the field outside Allegiant Stadium ahead of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game, early Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The NFL is once again rolling out changes on their kick-offs but this time, it is taking a page out of the XFL’s book. 

For the 2024 season, the kicker will remain in his usual place, kicking off from his 35-yard line. His teammates, however, will be lined up on the opposite 40-yard line — 25 yards away — while the receiving team will be lined up just five yards away at the 35. 

No one would be allowed to move until either the kick returner catches the ball or if the ball crosses a designated target zone, which begins at the 20-yard line. 

The change ensures that the defending team does not build up a head of steam that creates high-impact collisions that raise the chances of injury. It also creates more of an opportunity for kick returns, which appeared at a paltry 22% last season. 

Touchbacks are also being revamped under these new rules. Balls kicked into or out of the end zone will be brought to the 35-yard line. Kickoffs that bounce from the field of play into the endzone will be brought out to the 20-yard line. 

That adds further incentive for kickers to try and place it within the target zone and hope the defense can pin them back deeper rather than gift the opposition good field position by booting it out of the end zone, which has become customary in recent years. 

Onside kicks will also be receiving a revamp, which the NFL hopes will bump up its number of 5.2% successful recoveries from last season. The kicking team will now be allowed to line up in unbalanced formations on either side of the kicker — meaning they could have six men on one side and four on the other.

To do so, however, they must declare that they are going for an onside kick.

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