Harbaugh: Proposal to ban field-goal leap seems like it will have league support

Harbaugh: Proposal to ban field-goal leap seems like it will have league support

PHOENIX -- One of the plays that the Patriots have helped bring to the forefront in recent seasons appears as though it could very well be banned by the end of the day on Tuesday. 

The league will vote on a variety of rules proposals at Biltmore Hotel, one of which would outlaw the field-goal leap play that the Patriots have employed with linebackers Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin over the course of the last two years. 


Collins blocked an Adam Vinatieri kick during a regular-season game in 2015, and McClellin got a Justin Tucker boot last season. The Patriots called for McClellin to leap the line in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, but he was penalized -- a ruling that Bill Belichick argued vociferously.

The feeling here over the last few days has been those types of plays will be banned because of the threat they pose to players who could be upended, potentially injuring their heads or necks. The rule change was officially proposed by Philadelphia. 

Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who has coached special teams during various stops in his coaching career dating back to 1988, said during the AFC coaches breakfast that he felt those plays would be eliminated during Tuesday's vote. 

"It is dangerous," he said. "If a guy gets flipped on his head, I think that's really something that, if something bad happens, we're all going to be responsible for that. That's not good. I also think it's going to get stopped because teams will defend it better, they're going to be looking for it. But when that guy jumps from the top, he's either going to get hit from underneath or hit from the side, and he's probably not in a great position to defend himself.

"Now the other argument that gets made is a receiver jumps up in the air, gets cut, he gets put in that situation, too. That's kind of the counter argument. I understand that argument as well. Probably, it's risk-reward. Is it really worth putting that guy in that situation? That's what we're going to vote on later. I think it probably passes."

While Harbaugh acknowledged there is a threat to any player who leaves his feet, he acknowledged that there is a distinction between a player deciding to jump following a split-second decision in the heat of competition versus a coach calling for a player to potentially put himself at risk.

Another kicking game-related rule change on the docket is one proposed by Washington in which a kickoff booted through the uprights would lead to a touchback where the ball is spotted at the 20-yard line as opposed to the 25.

Harbaugh gave that idea a thumbs-up in part, he admitted, because he has one of the strongest kickers in the league in Tucker.

"Justin likes it, too," Harbaugh said. "I know everyone's going to say, 'Well, OK, just because it benefits them.' And we all consider that when rules changes get made. Anybody who says otherwise is lying. But it adds excitement to the play.

"We've taken a lot of kickoff returns out of the game. We got a touchdown, we got a review, we got a commerical . . . we have an extra point, we have another set of commercials, then we have a touchback . . . [then] commercials! That's not good. Anything we can do to make it a little more interesting.

"We proposed make [a kickoff through the uprights] a point. Now people are going to say well that's because of Justin Tucker. Yes. It's also because everybody will be watching that kickoff, especially if the wind is at his back. They say it can't be defended, [but] we can change that too. Let's get a guy under the uprights . . . Let him leap up there and see if he can bat the thing down. Anything that adds excitement to the game that's safe? I'm for."

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

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Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

There's one gigantic hole to fill on the Patriots offensive line.

Replacing Nate Solder is no easy task and it's not exactly clear how the Pats will yet.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was first to report the Patriots would like to bring back Waddle or Fleming.

It now appears that one of the former backup tackle is taking a serious look elsewhere, according to Ian Rapoport. 

It's not the best offensive line free agency market this season, so the Pats may prefer to bring back a guy they are familar with.

If Fleming is off the board, Waddle still remains as an option for New England.



How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

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How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

How highly do the Patriots value their mid-round draft picks? We'll find out as the run on NFL free agents continues this week. 

If Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio plan to make any signings from outside the organization, they'll have to factor into that decision what they will be giving up. Money and cap space matter . . . sure. But there is draft capital at stake.  

The Patriots are currently projected to land two third-round compensatory picks in 2019 after losing both Malcolm Butler and Nate Solder in free agency. There's real value there, and the decision-makers at One Patriot Place may be reluctant to give that up. 

Recent Patriots third-round picks include Derek Rivers, Tony Garcia, Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Vincent Valentine, Geneo Grissom, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan. 


Before we get into how the Patriots might lose those third-round comp picks if they remain active in free-agency, it's worth noting how comp picks are assigned. 

The compensatory-pick formula the league uses has never been published, but we know the basics. It's based on free agents lost and free agents acquired in a given year by a particular team. The level of those players is taken into consideration -- based on salary, playing time and other factors -- and then picks are issued to teams who have lost more (or better) free agents than they acquired. Only free agents whose contracts have expired (not players who've been released) qualify for the compensatory-pick formula.'s Nick Korte is the best in the business when it comes to predicting how many picks teams will land based on their free-agent losses and acquisitions, and he has the Patriots down for two third-rounders in 2019 and nothing else. 

That may sound surprising given the Patriots lost Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola in addition to Butler and Solder, but that's the way the formula broke, according to Korte. The Adrian Clayborn signing (given a sixth-round value by OTC) cancelled out the Amendola loss (sixth-round value). The Matt Tobin signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Lewis loss (sixth-round value). And the Jeremy Hill signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Johnson Bademosi loss (sixth-round value). 

Why do Tobin and Hill cancel out Amendola and Lewis, despite being lower-value moves? Here's how OTC describes the process. (Free agents who qualify for the comp-pick formula are known as Compensatory Free Agents or CFAs.)

1. A CFA gained by a team cancels out the highest-valued available CFA lost that has the same round valuation of the CFA gained.

2. If there is no available CFA lost in the same round as the CFA gained, the CFA gained will instead cancel out the highest-available CFA lost with a lower round value.

3. A CFA gained will only cancel out a CFA lost with a higher draft order if there are no other CFAs lost available to cancel out. 

That final point is key. An example? The Seahawks recently signed CFA Jaron Brown, a seventh-round value. The only Seahawks "CFAs lost" available to cancel out the move were Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, both fourth-round values. Even though there's a three-round difference between Brown and Richardson, per Korte's projections, those moves still will cancel each other out. 

With that in mind, the Patriots may want to tread lightly when it comes to signing free agents who will qualify toward the comp-pick formula. They could lose out on the third-rounders they've received for Solder and Butler even if they sign a lower-value free agent.

Players like Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro or Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman would count toward the comp-pick formula. Would their value to the team be such that losing a 2019 third-round pick wouldn't matter to the Patriots? Or would their comp-pick impact hurt their chances of being picked up in New England? My guess would be the latter. 

The good news for the Patriots is that re-signing their own players -- like offensive tackles LaAdrian Waddle and/or Cam Fleming -- doesn't impact the comp-pick setup. Neither does signing players who've been released, meaning the Patriots could theoretically make a splash by signing Ndamukong Suh or Eric Ebron and they'd retain their comp picks.

Given the Patriots made just four draft picks last year, and since comp picks can be traded now (that rule was changed last year), it would come as little surprise if retaining those picks weighed heavily on Belichick and Caserio's decisions as they move through the remainder of the offseason.