When changing its playing rules, the NFL always worries about unintended consequences. The new catch rule has a potential unintended consequence that would run counter to the league’s obsession with player health and safety.
Consider this example: Offensive player catches ball with two feet down. Ball comes out. Official blows the whistle and makes the signal of an incomplete pass. The ball bounces around on the ground. What happens next?
So, yes, players will be diving for the ball. That’s what they’ll be coached to do, and that’s what they’ll be expected to do. And good luck doing that without lowering the helmet to initiate contact in the process of, you know, diving head first.
While it’s unlikely (hopefully) that diving head first for a loose ball will constitute a violation of the new helmet rule (at this point, who knows?), the sudden, secret passage of such a significant safety rule brings into focus the safety aspects of all rule changes. And the new catch rule definitely has a safety risk that was overlooked, disregarded, or affirmatively assumed by the owners when voting 32-0 to change the catch rule.
Rosen could try to get the Browns to trade him to another team, in the same way that Eli Manning got the Chargers to draft him and quickly trade him to the Giants in 2004. If the Browns refuse, Rosen could sit out the year and re-enter the draft in 2019.
If the report from November is accurate that Rosen was considering returning to school for another year in lieu of potentially being drafted by the Browns, the logical alternative if picked by the Browns becomes telling them “no thanks” and entering the draft pool again next year. It’s actually a better approach; if Rosen had chosen to remain in school, he still could have been drafted by the Browns in 2019. If the Browns draft Rosen and he stiffs them this year, the Browns wouldn’t draft him again next year.
“I’d rather be a lower pick at the right team than a higher [pick] at the wrong team,” Rosen said in December. Surely, Rosen would also rather wait a year to have a better chance at getting to the right team. Or, at a minimum, to avoid the wrong team.