The National Football League approved a new rule for all fair catches and touchdowns to come out to the 25-yard line for one year only during the spring meetings in Minneapolis on Tuesday (May 23), the league announced in a news release.
The release states the following per NFLCommunications.com:
After a fair catch is made, or is awarded as the result of fair-catch interference, the receiving team has the option of putting the ball in play by either a:
(a) fair-catch kick (drop kick or placekick without a tee) from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties or rule) (3-10 and 11-4-3), or
(b) snap from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties), unless a player on the receiving team makes a fair catch of a free kick behind the receiving team's 25-yard line, in which case the ball will be put in play at the receiving team's 25-yard line.
The NFL said the rule change was intended to limit injuries sustained during kickoff returns.
“You know we have different viewpoints in the league, but the data is very clear. … There will be a lot of work that needs to be done," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said while addressing the rule change via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Tuesday.