Former NFL star JJ Watt wants league to consider change for holding penalties


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The NFL assesses any potential needs for rule changes during the offseason and at least two could be on the books this year with the “tush push” and the fumble in the end zone resulting in a touchback.

Former Houston Texans star J.J. Watt offered one more rule change the league should consider – specifically on holding penalties.

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JJ Watt held back

Colts guards Mark Glowinski and Braden Smith hold Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt during their game in Indianapolis on Oct. 20, 2019, at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I think the refs understand that a 10-yard penalty is a massive penalty in the NFL,” Watt said on “The Pat McAfee Show” this week. “So I think if you made holding a 5-yard penalty, I think it’s going to be called much more fairly and much more realistically. Because it’s not as crippling to the offense.”

Watt explained that great pass rushers are unlikely to get holding calls unless it’s truly blatant and pointed to specific instances where players will not get the call if they run into a hold.

“It has to be on the outside of the body where a guy is literally pulling you and it’s like away from his body,” Watt said. “And it sucks, yeah, because it’s very difficult to do but I learned by the end of my career what they were gonna call and what they weren’t.”

JJ Watt and George Kittle

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt smiles while talking with San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle in Santa Clara, California, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

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McAfee, a former Indianapolis Colts punter, said going from 1st-and-20 after a holding call is crucial to the offense because after the call happens teams are essentially expecting to punt the ball away when their drive ends. He also suggested it didn’t make sense that a defensive holding was a 5-yard penalty.

The NFL annual meeting will occur from March 24 to 27 in Orlando, Florida.

NFL footballs in Detroit

Wilson brand footballs are with the NFL logo at Ford Field on Dec. 4, 2022, in Detroit.  (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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Fans will get to hear if any rules change heading into the 2024 season.

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