As expected, the NFL approved a new rule that prohibits a player from crossing the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block an extra point or field goal attempt. Under the amended rule, a player can run forward and leap as long as he does not cross the line of scrimmage or land on players.
Another rule proposal that would protect snappers for at least one second after a snap did not obtain approval.
This week, the NFL will consider a number of proposed playing rule changes, two of which implicate long snappers. The first proposal would provide additional protection for the snapper on kick plays. Specifically, the rule would prevent a defensive player from initiating contact with the snapper until one second after the snap.
The second proposal would address a common issue last season when teams would time snaps to leap over the snapper to block a field goal or extra point. The current rule makes leaping over the snapper illegal only when the defender lands on a player. The proposal would ban the play entirely.
It is expected that the second rule proposal will pass and eliminate the leaping over the snapper play.
As free agency enters a second week there have been some more long snapper signings. Veteran Jon Condo has resigned with the Raiders, while Garrison Sanborn did not remain unemployed long. The Bucs signed the veteran snapper who had been with Buffalo but was not resigned. Andrew East was also signed by the Rams.
Thomas Gafford, Brett Goode, Justin Drescher and Andrew DePaola are the remaining unsigned veteran free agents.
Patrick Mannelly remains of the best long snappers in NFL history and Windy City Gridiron recently published an excellent and comprehensive interview with Mannelly.
Entitled “The Life of the Long Snapper” the story by Jack M. Silverstein does an excellent job reviewing some of the well-known and not so well-known aspects of Mannelly’s 16 year career with the Bears.
There have been a few more long snapper signings this past week as veteran free agency is nearly a week old. As usual, snappers tend to stay with their clubs. So, it is no surprise that unrestricted free agents Mike Windt (Chargers), John Denney (Dolphins) and Tanner Purdum (Jets) have all rejoined their teams. Windt signed a four-year deal, while Denney and Purdum inked one-year contracts.
Remaining unrestricted free agents are Thomas Gafford, Brett Goode, Justin Drescher, Jon Condo and Andrew DePaola. DePaola was a restricted free agent but became an unrestricted free agent after Tampa Bay did not tender him a contract to retain his rights.
Veteran free agency officially starts tomorrow in the NFL. However, there have been some moves in advance of that date. The Lions have brought back veteran Don Muhlbach on a one-year deal, while the Bills released Garrison Sanborn.
There are two exclusive rights free agents, for which their existing teams own their rights if they offer a one-year deal. Both Patrick Scales (Bears) and Casey Kreiter (Broncos) will be returning to their teams next season. Andrew DePaola (Buccaneers) is the only restricted free agent and it is unclear at this time if the Bucs will seek to retain his rights in light of his injury late last season.
The remaining unrestricted free agent snappers are Thomas Gafford, Brett Goode, John Denney, Justin Drescher, Tanner Purdum, Jon Condo and Mike Windt.
It has already been an active off season for snappers in the NFL. To date, an unprecedented 10 snappers have signed contracts for next season. Further, a few veteran snappers have signed contract extensions, including Greg Warren (Steelers), Charley Hughlett (Browns) and, most recently, Zak DeOssie (Giants).
With the NFL Combine about to start and veteran free agency getting underway right after that, it is a good time to take a quick look at each NFL team and the current snapping situation.
There are still eight veteran snappers who will soon become unrestricted free agents if not resigned before March 9th. Injured Andrew DePaola of the Bucs is the only pending restricted free agent.
It would not be a surprise if a few more of the unrestricted free agent snappers sign contracts to return to their team, either just before or shortly after the free agency period starts.
Below is an updated chart of each team’s snapping situation and, if applicable, the free agency status of the existing snapper.
2017 Off Season Snapping Chart