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Patriots have work to do at NFL owners meetings

Robert Kraft
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY/File
Robert Kraft

ORLANDO — Patriots owner Robert Kraft looked like a man enjoying a nice vacation on Sunday, casually strolling through the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton resort with a popped collar and sunglasses.

While Kraft and his fellow NFL owners are certainly catching a few rays and enjoying the balmy weather this week, there’s also plenty of work to be done.

The NFL owners will vote on 14 proposed rule changes during their three days of meetings, which wrap up Wednesday morning. They also will discuss other league issues, such as expanding the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, although playoff changes likely wouldn’t come until the 2015 season at the earliest.


The league’s general managers and head coaches also are at the event, and will be involved in meetings with the competition committee and other leaguewide initiatives. The Patriots’ contingent will be Kraft, Bill Belichick, and director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who also may speak with the handful of agents who attend the meetings to shop their unsigned clients.

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Kraft and Belichick are both likely to address the media this week, with several big topics to cover. Vince Wilfork’s contract situation is still hovering over the organization like a black cloud — the Patriots would like to bring him back at a lower rate than his current $7.5 million base salary and $11.6 million cap hit, while Wilfork so far has refused to take any sort of pay cut and has asked the team to release him.

Kraft and Belichick also will be asked for the first time about the acquisitions of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Brandon LaFell, the re-signing of Julian Edelman, and any other plans the Patriots may have for this offseason.

Around the league, the Jets and Eagles seem to be creating the most buzz so far — the Jets with their signing of Michael Vick Friday, and the Eagles with their willingness to trade or perhaps even release star receiver DeSean Jackson, who, according to reports, won’t be back in Philadelphia next season.

Among the rules changes that are being proposed and voted upon this week:


 Having the on-field referee consult with a member of the league’s officiating department — most likely director of officiating Dean Blandino — during instant replay.

 Moving the line of scrimmage on extra points back to the 25-yard line to make it a more competitive play. This change is being proposed by the Patriots.

 Extending the uprights 5 feet higher to help officials make a definitive judgment on field goal attempts. This change also is being proposed by the Patriots.

 Allowing coaches to challenge any officials’ decisions except for scoring plays and turnovers (which already are automatically reviewed), and eliminating the red challenge flag. In this proposal — also made by the Patriots — a team would call time to challenge a play, and if the challenge is successful, the team would have its timeout restored.

 Expanding game-day rosters to 49 active players on games that are played on any day other than Sunday or Monday, for player safety reasons.


 Expanding the practice squad from eight to 10 players.

 Allowing teams to execute trades before the start of the new league year.

 Allowing more than one player per team to return to the active roster from injured reserve during the season.

 Eliminating the preseason roster cutdown from 90 to 75 players, and having only one cutdown from 90 to 53.

 Adding personal fouls to the list of plays that can be reviewed by instant replay.

 Moving the kickoff line to the 40 for player safety and historical consistency reasons.

 Eliminating overtime in preseason games for player safety reasons.

 Putting fixed cameras on all of the boundary lines to ensure total coverage for instant replay regardless of where the TV network cameras are located — another change being proposed by the Patriots.

 Expanding the definition of clipping to include the side and back of the leg — an offensive player would not be allowed to roll up on the back or sides of the leg of a defensive player.

 Allowing instant replay review of certain dead-ball plays, such as the clear recovery of a fumble after the whistle has blown.

 Keeping the clock running after a sack outside of two minutes, instead of stopping the clock.

Ben Volin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.