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NFL teams vote to amend current overtime rules

PALM BEACH — NFL teams, with few exceptions, will be assured of an opportunity to possess the ball in regular-season overtime games as teams voted Wednesday at the owners meetings to amend the current overtime rules.

Under the new rules, only a touchdown can end an overtime game without both teams having had at least one possession. The rule was adopted two years ago for the postseason.

Also Wednesday, teams voted to make turnovers automatically subject to review just like scoring plays now are.

"We like the way the procedure worked on scoring plays, and we felt like this was a change we could make without adding game time," said Falcons executive Rich McKay, chairman of the league's competition committee.

A couple of notable proposals failed.

One proposal to have all replays decided by a replay official in the booth — rather than the referee — did not pass. There were concerns about the experience level of the replay assistants versus referees.

A proposal to make horse-collar penalties applicable to quarterbacks in the pocket also failed, McKay said, because there was no indication the current rule had a negative impact on player safety.

"The rule was developed for the open-field tackle, when a defender has the chance to do something else (in making the tackle)," he said. "He's also able to use the runner's momentum against him. We didn't think that applied to the pocket and didn't see the injury risk."

There also was debate about moving the trade deadline back two weeks for greater flexibility and a roster exemption to allow one player to return from injured reserve late in the season after an established number of weeks. Both issues were tabled, but McKay said it is possible they could be adopted at the league's next meeting in May.

"There were good ideas and suggestions; no resistance," he said. "We'll work on the language."

No Bucs cap trouble: With the Redskins and Cowboys locked in a legal battle with the league after being penalized for salary cap violations during the uncapped season, questions have been raised about the Bucs and the handful of other teams that also took advantage of the lack of salary parameters in 2010.

The Bucs are among a few teams that spent below the would-be salary floor in 2010. The league warned teams not to impact competitive balance by spending in excess of the usual spending limits created by the salary cap.

Dallas and Washington, according to the league, did. Both teams were penalized with massive reductions in their salary caps and soon will challenge the ruling before an arbitrator.

But did the Bucs and others also violate the spirit of the rules with their spending decisions? Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the notion.

"No, there was no issue there," he said. "(The question was) did any teams gain a competitive advantage. That was the focus that we and the (players union) had moving forward. That's why we reached an agreement; so no one had a long-term competitive advantage."

Adding a bit of intrigue was Tuesday's 29-0 vote by owners to support the league's actions against the Redskins and Cowboys. The missing three votes? The Redskins and Cowboys (who weren't permitted to vote) and, according to the Washington Post, the Bucs, who abstained.

Parcells says he's open to taking over Saints

If Bill Parcells decides to come out of retirement to coach the Saints this season, it will be for one reason.

"If this guy says to me, 'Bill, I need you to do this,' " Parcells said Wednesday. "That's what friends are supposed to be for."

"This guy" is Saints coach Sean Payton, who is suspended for the upcoming season for his role in a bounty program. Parcells, 70, said he has turned down two coaching opportunities since leaving the Cowboys after the 2006 season but this situation is different.

"It's a little more personal to me because this is one of my guys," he said

Parcells hired Payton as an offensive assistant in 2003, and they spent three years together in Dallas before Payton became Saints coach.

Parcells met with Payton and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis on Tuesday. Parcells said the coaching job was not discussed specifically; that he believed Payton wanted him to get to know Loomis.

Parcells added he does not expect an immediate decision, citing a potential appeal by Payton. He has until Monday to do so.

Bounty discipline: Goodell said he expects to speak with union leader DeMaurice Smith before the end of the week and hopes to have his recommendations on punishment for players involved in the bounties by then or soon after. The league also will be scheduling additional hearings in the investigation.

49ers sign Jacobs: San Francisco agreed to a one-year deal with running back Brandon Jacobs, according to multiple reports. Jacobs, 29, spent seven seasons with the Giants, and his 4,849 yards are fourth in franchise history. But last season, Jacobs' role diminished with the emergence of Ahmad Bradshaw. And he was released March 9 after the sides failed to reach agreement on a restructured deal.

Coughlin confident, playful: Giants coach Tom Coughlin, entering the final year of his contract, said he expects to sign an extension in the coming weeks. "I'm not overly concerned," he said. Coughlin, coming off a Super Bowl season, said he also isn't concerned about the headlines the Jets have drawn in New York for their acquisition of quarterback Tim Tebow. "You know who won the Super Bowl. You know who the world champions are," he said. "Whether we're on the front page every day or not, it's not that important. New Yorkers know."

Bears: Receiver Devin Thomas agreed to a one-year deal. He has 43 catches in four seasons with the Redskins, Panthers and Giants. He was mainly a special teams player for the Giants last season and recovered two fumbles during the NFC title game, including one that set up the winning field goal.

Colts: Eva Weinberg, a financial adviser for Dwight Freeney, and her lover, Michael Stern, were arrested on federal wire fraud charges that allege they swindled about $2.2 million from the defensive end. Authorities say Weinberg wired the money, in nearly 140 separate transactions, from Freeney's bank account to Arm's Reach Consulting, a company owned by Stern. An arraignment has not been set.

Rams: Receiver Torry Holt, out of the league since 2010 training camp, will sign in order to retire with the team, ESPN radio in St. Louis reported. From 1999-2007 with the Rams, he went to the Pro Bowl seven times and helped them win a Super Bowl.

Titans: Cornerback Asante Samuel could be acquired from the Eagles for a third-round pick this week, reported. Samuel is set to count for $10.5 million against the salary cap in 2012. But Philadelphia also has standout cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

NFL teams vote to amend current overtime rules 03/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:10am]
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