The NFL has moved to avoid another quarterback debacle like the one that plagued the San Francisco 49ers in this past year's NFC Championship Game.
NFL owners approved a bylaw proposal on Monday at the Spring League Meeting allowing clubs to dress a third QB without using an active roster spot on game days, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported, per sources informed of the decision.
The league cited on Monday "integrity of game" as the chief reason for the rule change.
The league previously had a third-quarterback rule in effect from 1991-2010 before doing away with the option. Now it's back.
The emergency quarterback rule came to the forefront this offseason after the 49ers, already riddled with signal-caller injuries, saw starter Brock Purdy injure his elbow on the first series of the NFC title game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Backup Josh Johnson sustained a concussion in the third quarter. That forced Purdy to re-enter the contest, but the quarterback couldn't do more than toss two short passes. The quandary left the Niners' offense dead in the water, and the Eagles ran away with the conference title.
With clubs now allowed to dress an emergency QB, the hope is viewers will avoid watching such a disaster again.
Full language of the updated bylaw:
One hour and 30 minutes prior to kickoff, each club is required to establish its Active List for the game by notifying the Referee of the players on its Inactive List for that game. Each club may also designate one emergency third quarterback from its 53-player Active/Inactive List (i.e., elevated players are not eligible for designation) who will be eligible to be activated during the game, if the club's first two quarterbacks on its game day Active List are not able to participate in the game due to injury or disqualification (activation cannot be a result of a head coach's in-game decision to remove a player from the game due to performance or conduct). If either of the injured quarterbacks is cleared by the medical staff to return to play, the emergency third quarterback must be removed from the game and is not permitted to continue to play quarterback or any other position, but is eligible to return to the game to play quarterback if another emergency third quarterback situation arises.
A club is not eligible to use these procedures if it carries three quarterbacks on its game day Active List [47- or 48-players in 2023].