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Mason's Mailbag: Beyond the rules to the bylaws at the NFL Annual Meeting

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

I saw the rules-change proposals, but what about some of the bylaw proposals? Which ones could really have an impact?

-- Hal Smith

There are some interesting procedural proposals among the 12 that were submitted.

My personal favorite -- Bylaw Proposal No. 8 -- came from the Competition Committee, which proposes allowing coaches to use video on their Microsoft Surface tablets while on the sideline and in the coaches' booth during a game. Right now, teams can use the tablets, but are limited to still photos rather than being able to review video. This is an embrace of technology the NFL needs to make as part of the sport's continued evolution.

One proposal came from the Broncos. They want to allow teams to trade players on injured reserve. This makes sense in light of the recent liberalization of rules to allow teams to activate players from injured reserve during the season.

Another one is from Miami, which proposes an end to the rule that a non-vested veteran must pass through waivers before going to injured reserve during the preseason. The rule, as written right now, forces a player who is not yet a vested veteran (a player with four seasons of service) to go on waivers if he is to be placed on injured reserve before the final cut to 53 players. This often forces teams to carry a player on their preseason roster who isn't playing. Last year, for example, the Broncos could not place then-rookie wide receiver Carlos Henderson on injured reserve until the roster deadline, so they were effectively a man down on the 90-man roster. (The official reason for Miami's proposal is to "provide roster spots during the preseason.")

In 2010, the Broncos lost safety Josh Barrett when the Patriots claimed him off waivers when Denver tried to get him to injured reserve. If the Dolphins' proposal passes, that scenario would not happen again.

The 49ers, Cardinals and Chargers proposed that no team would have to play more than three of its eight road games with a kickoff time before 1 p.m. "in the time zone of their home stadium." This would reduce the potential number of early start times for Western teams, who historically struggle when forced to play games in the Eastern or Central time zones that begin at 10 a.m. PT.

The official reason of the proposal from these three teams reads like this:

"Current scheduling rules can result in a single team playing up to six away games with an inherent disadvantage while their divisional opponents may only have one such game. Playing in the early Sunday time slot after long travel reduces the win rate for the road team from 45.2% to 33.5%."

If passed, this could impact the Broncos as soon as the 2018 season. Denver could have four road games with early start times -- contests at Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the New York Jets. This bylaw would ensure at least one of those was played at 2 p.m. Denver time or later, unless the Broncos gave their "consent" to one extra early kickoff. That "consent" clause is included in the proposal.

Finally, there is another notable proposal that would prevent something the Broncos did last year. In 2017, they placed OLB Shane Ray on injured reserve to open the season. With an eight-week minimum stay on injured reserve before being eligible for reactivation, that meant he could return after six games, since the team had a Week 5 bye and played its Week 8 game on Monday night in Kansas City -- the first full day after the eight-week period had passed.

Thus, the proposal from the Competition Committee changes the minimum time on injured reserve before being eligible to return to the active roster from eight weeks to eight games. It's a one-word alteration that could make a world of difference.

Offensive-line play was one of the Broncos' biggest issues last year; why have we not seen any moves to improve that area thus far?

-- Jason Heater

Jason, I saw that you asked this on March 18 ... sometimes you just have to be patient. There were few clear potential upgrades on the open market at right tackle, so the Broncos had to go the trade route to acquire Jared Veldheer on Friday. If the nine-year veteran can approach the form he had prior to his two season-ending injuries of the last two years, he will represent a clear upgrade -- and a sixth-round pick is a reasonable cost to try and find out whether he can get back there.

An in-his-playing-prime Elway would be worth at least $32 million a year on the free-agent market, given that he would already have multiple elite seasons and trips to the Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. However, I also expect that an in-his-prime Elway would never make it onto the open market, as the team that had him would cherish his presence and build its roster around his talents.

**

Hey Mase, kind of sad to see your hypocrisy. In a previous post, you told people to slow the hype train of calling for Chad Kelly to start at QB. Kind of sad reading that, especially after hearing you call for a new QB and calling Paxton Lynch a bust after four career starts. Maybe you should slow down the bust train, sir.**

-- Joshua Woodward

It's kind of sad to see someone attributing words to me that I did not say or write, as I did not use that word to describe Lynch. You must have me confused with someone else. I have simply advocated creating as many options at the quarterback position as possible and taking advantage of the fact that the Broncos have the No. 5 overall pick in a year blessed with unusual draft quality at quarterback.

To cite a successful example from another team, the Eagles had just signed Chase Daniel and traded for Sam Bradford in 2016, but that did not stop them from drafting Carson Wentz. That obviously worked out well.

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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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