The sky judge concept is on the agenda to be discussed by the coaches subcommittee of the league’s competition committee during its meetings in the coming days at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. A person familiar with the process said the league and the competition committee will allow the coaches to have their say, but the league office and the NFL’s officiating crews remain skeptical, that person said, adding that the league does not regard the sky judge system as a viable method for achieving the officiating consistency that coaches are seeking.
One problem cited by the league last offseason was finding enough qualified video officials to fill prospective sky judge jobs. Currently, replay rulings are made by members of the NFL’s officiating department, headed by Al Riveron, stationed in New York, in consultation with the video official and the on-field referee at the game.
The competition committee’s agenda for its meetings during the combine include a discussion of the rule that made interference reviewable by replay. That rule was ratified by the owners last March, in the aftermath of the missed pass interference call in the NFC title game in New Orleans that sent the Los Angeles Rams, rather than the Saints, to the Super Bowl to conclude the 2018 season.
The owners approved the new replay system for only one year, meaning the rule will be up for a renewal vote of the owners in March in Palm Beach, Fla., at the annual league meeting. Players, coaches and fans this past season regularly expressed their dissatisfaction with the new system, saying they did not believe Riveron’s replay rulings on interference-related plays were consistent.
Franchise tag window pushed back
The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed Saturday to push back by two days the window for teams to apply the franchise tag and transition tag to players. That window will begin Thursday instead of Tuesday, and it will run through March 12 instead of March 10.
The delay provides more time before teams begin conducting offseason business for the NFLPA to consider potential ratification of the proposed 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the league and owners. The owners approved the proposed CBA when they met Thursday in New York. The NFLPA’s team-by-team player reps postponed an expected vote when they spoke Friday by conference call.
Representatives of the players are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Indianapolis with negotiators for the league and owners. The vote of the player reps is expected to take place after that meeting.
According to people familiar with the players’ deliberations, the NFLPA plans to have the player reps’ vote serve merely as a nonbinding recommendation, and the proposed CBA is expected to be put to a vote of all NFL players. It would have to be ratified by a majority of the players to be put into effect. The deal includes a 17-game regular season, shortened preseason, expanded playoffs and changes to the league’s marijuana policy and player discipline system.
The players’ CBA decision affects the rules governing franchise and transition tags. If the players ratify the proposed new CBA, the usual rules will be in effect and each team can use one tag, either the franchise tag or the transition tag, on a single player. But if the NFLPA rejects the proposed CBA, the existing CBA would remain in effect and would be in its final year with altered rules that allow a team to use both the franchise and transition tags, potentially limiting the free agent mobility of two players.
That could be particularly important to a team such as the Dallas Cowboys: Quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are both eligible for unrestricted free agency beginning March 18.
Read more on the NFL: