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2017 NFL owners’ meetings: Rules proposals, Raiders move to Las Vegas, Tony Romo trade discussions

We run down the big items on the docket for the 2017 annual March owners’ meetings.

The 2017 NFL offseason passes another major marker this week, as the annual March owners’ meetings take place in Phoenix. The owners meet numerous times each year, but the March meetings are the most notable. The owners vote on rule proposals, head coaches meet with the media on Tuesday and Wednesday, and there is usually a major topic or two worthy of discussion. This year, our own Jennifer Chan is on hand. She’ll be tweeting from Phoenix all week.

Raiders move to Las Vegas

The Oakland Raiders have been working on a stadium solution, and it appears set to be coming from Las Vegas. After casino magnate Sheldon Adelson backed out of a potential deal, the team was able to get bank backing on a deal with the city. Las Vegas joins the ranks of American cities providing welfare to billionaires. They are expected to provide $750 million in direct funding, plus another $200 million in indirect maintenance improvements at and around the stadium site.

The league is expected to discuss and vote on the issue. There are still some questions, but influential owner Jerry Jones thinks Monday is, “gonna be an exciting day for Vegas.”

One issue that appears to still need to be discusses is that of gambling. It’s an absurdly backwards view given the expansion of gambling online and in other states, but the NFL has never been a paragon of progressive views. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told MMQB’s Peter King, "We are not changing our position as it relates to legalized sports gambling. We still don't think it is a positive thing."

It’s ridiculous in part because the casinos have a vested interest in keeping things on the up-and-up. People won’t bet nearly as much if they think the games are fixed. And casinos have systems in place to track any potential problems. They can turn around and inform the NFL when potentially questionable wagers happen. That is something the NFL does not get from the online market and from off-the-books wagering.

The most interesting issue related to that is that the NFL has long prohibited its referees from visiting Las Vegas during the season. There were two exceptions, one for personal emergencies and one for any mandatory meetings for their non-NFL jobs. If they go in the offseason, they have to inform the league office, and are barred from sportsbooks. So, it would appear the league has to make a change.

Rule proposals

There are 15 rule proposals on the table. Our friends at Dawgs By Nature put together a great rundown of all 15 proposals. One of the notable ones for 49ers fans is a sort of “Chip Kelly” rule. It deals with teams committing penalties to manipulate the game clock.

Another notable proposal would decrease overtime from 15 minutes to ten minutes. I’d personally rather have some version of the college overtime. To prevent coaches from being too conservative, maybe after two opportunities apiece, teams are no longer permitted to kick field goals, or something along those lines.

The other big potential change would move the decision on instant replay to the league office. There has been discussion between a ref and the league office in recent years, but this would move it more firmly to VP of officiating Dean Blandino. Yes, he of the Dallas Cowboys party bus.

Trade discussions

We had a flurry of free agency signings and trades when the league year got started earlier this month. Things have since quieted down, but there are still some notable names available. On the trade side, Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo both technically remain available. Romo seems much more likely to be moved than Garoppolo.

The March owners’ meetings bring all 32 teams together, including head coaches and likely most of the general managers. Trades normally happen through phone conversations, but in-person discussions can sometimes push things over the top. It doesn’t mean a deal will get done this week, but it could give negotiations the push needed to get something done between now and the 2017 NFL Draft.