NFL Changes Kickoff Rules: What Does This Mean?

XFL Kickoff

The NFL is changing the kickoff. On Tuesday, NFL owners approved the hybrid kickoff rule, which originated in the XFL. What does this mean for the kickoff in 2024?

NFL Changes Kickoff Rules

The vote passed 29-3 during the Annual League Meeting on Tuesday.

With the NFL Hybrid Kickoff, kickers will still kick from the 35-yard line during the 2024 season. However, the other 10 players will line up at the receiving team’s 40-yard line.

The receiving team will line up at least seven players in the “set-up zone” between their own 35 and 30-yard lines. Then, a maximum of two returners can line up in the landing zone between their 20-yard line and goal line.

The kicker cannot cross the 50-yard line after the ball is kicked. The kicking team cannot move until a player either catches the ball in the landing zone, the ball hits the ground, or the ball goes into the end zone. The same rules apply to the receiving team in the set-up zone.

The players in the landing zone can move at any time before or during the kickoff.

More On NFL Hybrid Kickoff Rule

No fair catches will be allowed under the NFL Hybrid Kickoff model. Touchbacks now move to the 30-yard line.

Teams must inform officials if they wish to attempt an onside kick. No surprise onside kicks will be allowed.

If there is a penalty on a scoring play, it will be taken on the point after attempt instead of carrying over to the kickoff. Penalties that carry over to kickoffs will only apply to the kicker’s positioning. The set-up and landing zones will not change.

The NFL Hybrid Kickoff rule will only be in place for the 2024 season. It must be re-voted next offseason to pass for the 2025 season.

The NFL hopes the new kickoff rules lead to more returns and fewer touchbacks. The new format also should reduce concussions on kickoffs. When the XFL implemented this rule, over 90% of kickoffs were returned during the XFL’s first two seasons (via ESPN).

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