EAGAN, Minn. — NFL owners approved a rule change Monday that allows teams to play an emergency quarterback from the inactive list if the first two are injured during a game, a decision that stems from San Francisco’s depth-chart challenge in the NFC championship game.

The bylaw was initially proposed by the Detroit Lions. The third quarterback designation will not count against the limit of active players — either 47 or 48 — that is determined 90 minutes before kickoff.

The emergency activation can only occur after injury or disqualification, not for a performance-related decision or other conduct. If either of the first two quarterbacks are cleared by the team’s medical staff to return to play, the third must be removed from the game and can only return as a quarterback if an injury scenario arises again.

If a team puts three quarterbacks on the active list for a game, it can’t use the emergency option. Game-day practice squad elevations are not eligible, either.

The 49ers had running back Christian McCaffery warming up his arm in the NFC championship game in Philadelphia, after Brock Purdy injured his elbow and Josh Johnson suffered a concussion. Purdy was forced back into the game but unable to throw the ball more than 10 yards as the 49ers scrapped their game plan for a run-heavy attack in their 31-7 loss to the Eagles on Jan. 29.

The 49ers had already lost their top two quarterbacks — Trey Lance in Week 2 and Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 — to season-ending injuries.


League owners convened in Minnesota on Monday for their spring meetings, with the pending sale of the Washington Commanders from Dan Snyder’s family to Josh Harris’ group remaining a prominent if not pressing issue. No vote on the record $6.05 billion transaction will occur this week.

“There’s certain criteria that has to be met, and that’s just the way it is. It’s not there yet, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t get there. It’s complicated. Put it that way. I could explain it to you, and it wouldn’t tell you anything,” said Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, a member of the league finance committee.

Neither Snyder nor his wife, Tanya, came to Minnesota for the meeting. The league’s preference, Irsay said, is to have the deal approved prior to the start of the regular season.

Irsay indicated the amount of money at stake and the amount of investors involved in Harris’ group — which includes National Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson — has lengthened the approval process.

“We’re working hard. Everyone wants to get it done, and it’s seeing that it just complies with league policy. It’s a complicated deal, so we’re trying to just work through it and we’re hopeful we can get it done. It’s going to take probably several more weeks of discussions before we see if we can reach the goal line,” Irsay said.

RAIDERS: Tom Brady has reached a deal to become a minority owner of the Las Vegas Raiders, according to reports.


The seven-time Super Bowl champion’s agreement with Raiders owner Mark Davis is now pending approval by the NFL, CBS Sports reported.

Brady, 45, retired from the NFL in February after 23 seasons with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The following month, the former quarterback became a minority owner of the Las Vegas Aces, the WNBA team owned by Davis.

Brady’s discussions to join the Raiders as a limited partner began weeks before they were first reported by ESPN this month. He reportedly received approval to pursue the venture from Fox Sports, where he’s set to become a football analyst during the 2024 season on a 10-year, $375 million contract.

Brady isn’t expected to have any operational control of the Raiders, according to ESPN.

SUPER BOWL: The Super Bowl will return to the Bay Area in 2026 at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, following a vote of approval by NFL owners.

This will be the third time for the big game in the Bay Area. Levi’s Stadium, which opened in Santa Clara, California, in 2014, hosted Super Bowl 50 when Denver beat Carolina.


The 49ers won Super Bowl 19 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto when they beat Miami after the 1984 season. The 2026 game will be Super Bowl 60.

The next Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Super Bowl 59 will be played at the Superdome in New Orleans in 2025.

PANTHERS: The Carolina Panthers drafted Matt Corral in third round of the 2022 NFL draft with an eye toward developing him to potentially be their starting quarterback.

One year later, Corral is buried on the depth chart and appears to be the odd man out in Carolina’s QB room.

The Panthers used the No. 1 overall pick this year on Alabama’s Bryce Young and signed veteran Andy Dalton in free agency to be his backup. With most teams keeping two QBs on their roster, Corral’s future in Carolina is cloudy.

But Corral said he’d rather fight for a position than be traded.


“If it was up to me, I don’t want to get traded,” Corral said after minicamp practice. “I love the people here, I love the people that I’m around. I wanna play for (head coach Frank) Reich. I really like the coaches that we have around us.”

Corral’s comments come less than a month after he posted a cryptic message on Instagram the night of the NFL draft, which read: “Then the father said: I wanted to let you know that you are not worth anything if you are not in the right place. If you are not appreciated, do not be angry. That means you are in the wrong place. Don’t stay in a place where no one sees your value.”

Corral said the post was not about the Panthers drafting Young, which he views as a business decision.

“It was just personal stuff, just my social life and my relationships with people that care about me and I care about them,” Corral said. “Had nothing to do with football.”

Reich said he feels good about where Corral is at after sitting down and talking to him.

“Matt’s got a great attitude about it,” Reich said. “His perspective is what it needs to be. And you know, my only two cents that I would say would be, you’ve got to play the long game; it’s a long season, it’s a long career. Just do the next right thing, get better every day, work hard out of practice, learn this offense, execute, and be a good teammate; you can play in this league a long time. … Be ready when your opportunity comes and make the most of it.”


It’s unlikely Corral would command much on the trade market after missing his rookie season following a Lisfranc foot injury in a preseason game.

Corral called it a long, rough year.

He watched Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker all get time as the starting quarterback last season while he rehabbed. The Panthers finished the season 7-10 and cleaned house at quarterback, with none of the three still remaining in Carolina.

Dalton, a 12-year NFL veteran, is working with the first team in minicamp, essentially holding that role until Reich feels comfortable handing the reins of the offense over to Young.

That means Corral will likely get limited reps as the third-team quarterback when the Panthers get to training camp.

He appears ready to make the most of his chances, saying that last year gave him some perspective.


“It’s all about controlling what you can control,” Corral said. “And honestly, that’s what’s made me happy. Getting another opportunity to be here and play for the Carolina Panthers, I’m blessed. I’m in it for the long haul. When that opportunity comes, I’ll be ready.”

NFL DRAFT: The NFL draft will be coming to Green Bay in 2025.

The league announced the 2025 draft’s location during its spring meetings. The draft and related activities will take place inside and around Lambeau Field and Titletown, the collection of shops and restaurants surrounding the stadium.

Next year’s draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit. After being held at various New York locations from 1965-2014, the draft has made stops in Chicago (2015-16), Philadelphia (2017), Dallas (2018), Nashville (2019), Las Vegas (2022) and Kansas City (2023).

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: The NFL’s owners approved flexing Thursday Night Football by the minimum amount of votes, 24-8.

The NFL and Amazon are now allowed to flex a maximum of two games into Thursday Night Football from Week 13 through 17 in the upcoming season.

That’s in addition to a measure that passed in March allowing the NFL to schedule teams for two Thursday night games in a single season instead of one.

The Giants, Jets, Packers, Bears, Raiders, Lions, Bengals and Steelers all voted against the flexing proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, but it passed anyway with 75% of the owners’ voting in favor.

The games must be flexed a minimum of 28 days prior to the date, which is more notice than the previously proposed 15-day period. And the rule change is billed as a “one-season trial.”

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