Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey complained this spring about an “extremely annoying” NFL rule that keeps rookies off the field until their colleges’ school year ends, whether they are enrolled or not. The NFL and the American Football Coaches Association apparently agree.
They are “on the verge” of changing the “May 16 Rule” for the 2018 offseason, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media.
The league’s competition committee heard the plan during a conference call Tuesday, per Pelissero, though no vote is required to change it.
The current rule allows all rookies to participate in rookie minicamps, but players whose schools remain in session are prohibited from other activities until final exams are completed. Many of those affected, including Thomas and McCaffrey, are from the Pac-12.
McCaffrey said this spring the rule “sucks,” and Thomas called it “extremely annoying” and “frustrating.”
Under the new rule, all rookies could join their teams at a mutually agreed upon date, on or around May 16, per Pelissero. A rookie still enrolled in classes would receive time to complete final exams, while graduate students and those who have completed coursework could fully participate in offseason activities.
The new rule will prohibit teams from making offseason activities mandatory for players who remain in school.
The NFL implemented the rule in 1990 “to protect student-athletes who have remained in school to complete their schoolwork,” according to the league’s football operations website. Players from Stanford, Washington, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA, which had exams after June 1, were affected this spring, according to Pelissero.