Covering all the rule changes for the 2022 NFL season

Rams fans
Jul 31, 2022; Irvine, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams fans arrive during training camp at UC Irvine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While extremely popular, most fans can agree that the NFL is far from perfect, which has led to some NFL rules changes in 2022.

Of course, it’s common for there to be a few NFL rule changes during every offseason. Most of the time, these are just little tweaks that don’t have a huge impact on games. In past years, we’ve seen an NFL rule change to prevent concussions and several NFL rule changes to favor passing. 

NFL rules changes 2022

Granted, the NFL rules changes for 2022 aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. For the most part, casual fans may not even notice. But it’s still important for fans to be aware of the alterations made ahead of the season.

Let’s take a short break from making preseason predictions and checking out preseason NFL position rankings to learn about the important NFL rules changes in 2022.

Overtime playoff rules

The most important rules changes in 2022 relate to overtime playoff rules. NFL overtime rules have been controversial for several years. That controversy boiled over last season when the Chiefs beat the Bills in overtime without Buffalo touching the ball despite leading with 13 seconds left in regulation. That will no longer be possible starting with the 2022 playoffs, although it’s important to keep in mind that overtime in regulation will not be changed. These alterations will only come into play during the playoffs.

First, both teams will get at least one chance to possess the ball in overtime unless the first drive of overtime ends in a defensive safety. After both teams have had one possession, if one team has more points, they are the winner. If the game remains tied after both teams have possessed the ball, the next score will win the game. 

Meanwhile, if the 15-minute period expires with the score tied or the second team’s initial possession still ongoing, another 15-minute period will be played. That means the team that possesses the ball second doesn’t have to worry about the clock.

They just have to make sure that the game is at least tied at the end of their initial overtime possession. Also, if there are multiple overtime periods, the teams will switch sides after the first and third overtime periods. The timing rules for the second overtime period are the same as the second quarter of regulation and the timing rules for the fourth overtime period are the same as the fourth quarter of regulation.


Roster cutdown

There will also be some adjustments to the preseason roster cutdown in 2022.

At the start of training camp, teams can have 90 players on their roster, or 91 if they have an international roster.

On August 16, following the first full week of preseason games, rosters must be cut to 85 players. On August 23, following the second full week of preseason games, rosters should be cut to 80 players. By August 30, rosters should be cut to 53 players, which is the roster limit during the regular season.

Extended ramp-up period

During training camp in 2022, the NFL has increased how much time teams can practice in full-speed sessions, meaning no restrictions for wearing pads or hitting.

Starting with the second day of training camp, teams can have 90 minutes. On the third day, the limit is set at 105 minutes. By days four and five, the time limit increases to two hours.

Free kick formation

The experimental rule changes on free kicks that were tested during the 2021 season have been approved and made permanent. It dictates that before the ball is kicked on a free kick, all 11 players on the receiving team should be lined up inbounds and behind their restraining line.

Meanwhile, a minimum of eight players but a maximum of nine players should be standing between their restraining line and 15 yards behind their restraining line. This area is referred to as the setup zone.

Injured Reserve rules

For diehard fans who track injuries closely and keep tabs on players who are added to the injured reserve (IR) list, there are some notable changes in 2022. During the past two seasons, the NFL allowed an unlimited number of players to return to the active roster from IR. But this was done primarily to help players deal with the pandemic and the unpredictable nature of COVID cases.

However, only eight players on each team will be allowed to return from IR to the active roster. Individual players can be moved from IR to the active roster a maximum of two times during the season. But that player will count twice toward the limit of eight.

Meanwhile, the time frame that a player must stay on IR has increased. Recently, any player placed on IR had to stay there for a minimum of three weeks before being eligible to return to the active roster. In 2022, that time frame has increased to four weeks, making it a little more challenging for teams to place a player with a short-term injury on IR.

Practice Squad management

The size of NFL practice squads is growing in 2022. Teams can now have up to 16 practice squad players, which is up from 12.

Of those 16 players, six can be veterans with no restrictions on how long a player has been in the league to qualify for the practice squad. The veteran limit was also six years last year, but the increase is now permanent from four veterans on the practice squad in 2020.

Meanwhile, teams can elevate practice squad players to the active roster up to three times during the season without them needing to pass through waivers, making them available to the rest of the league.

On game days, up to two players from the practice squad can be placed on the active roster and then returned to the practice squad the following day without being exposed to waivers. Of course, if two players from the practice squad are elevated on game day, seven players must be deactivated from the roster to ensure there are only 48 active players listed 90 minutes before kickoff.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 272 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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