Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Aug 2012

NFL Rules Changes: Trade Deadline and IR

The NFL officially announced that the league and the Players Association have agreed on new rules changes suggested months ago. The traded deadline will move from Week 6 to Week 8, and from now on one player who goes on IR can come off the list before the end of the season. However, apparently that latter rule change only applies for this season to players already on IR as of now, which means the Steelers couldn't use it for someone like David DeCastro.

UPDATE: It looks like I had it wrong. In fact, to use the IR exception, a player needs to be on the final 53-man roster. Then a player can go on IR, and come off later.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 30 Aug 2012

13 comments, Last at 31 Aug 2012, 6:13pm by Jerry


by Drunkmonkey :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 1:58pm

Why would they do that? There are plenty of players that could fit in the IR rule, like Suggs and DeCastro, that would make it easier for teams to carry an extra player. I don't understand the rationale behind limiting it to players already on IR.

by snoopy369 :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 2:16pm

I think Aaron is reading it sort of sideways. The way I read it:
* It only applies as of 9/4 to anyone then placed on IR (they have to have been on the 53 man roster to start the season, which seems reasonable - otherwise you can abuse this to get an extra man on the roster)
* For 2012, you can include people already on IR, like DeCastro, since the rule wasn't in place yet when put on the IR.

See this for more details.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 6:00pm

That was my reading too, though the DeCastro case is backwards since he has not actually been put on IR. This sounds perfect for Suggs as well.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:17pm

I also disagree with Aaron's reading. FWIW, ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss parses it this way:

Under the amended terms, a team can designate one player who has been placed on injured reserved to return later in the season. That player, however, must be on the team's final 53-man roster (finalized on Friday), and also will not be eligible to practice until after the sixth week of the season, and won’t be able to play until after the eighth week of the season.

Because this rule was not agreed upon until Thursday, NFL teams have been granted an exemption for the 2012 season in which they can designate a player that has already been placed on the injured reserve list as a player to return later in this season. This designation must be made by Friday. As an example, the Patriots could designate linebacker Dane Fletcher, who was placed on the injured reserve list earlier this preseason after suffering a major knee injury, as their player to return.

So it sounds like normally you can only use this designation on someone who made the 53-man roster, but just for 2012 there is an exception whereby you can designate someone who was put on IR before the final cutdown.

by akn :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 5:37pm

There's one point of confusion for me. Do you have to designate the player will eventually be reactivated at the time of IRing that player? Or can any player put on "generic" IR over the course of the season (assuming they meet the 6 week rule) be reactivated? If it's the former, that significantly limits the added flexibility of the rule.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 6:02pm

According to the rule the "player must be 'designated for return' at the time the club places him on Reserve/Injured, and such designation shall appear on that day's Personnel Notice" in order to be eligible to come off of IR during the season.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 6:20pm

Seems good way to create cobfusipn. Baseball do it better
7-day DL, 15*day DL, 30-day DL, 60- day DL.

NFL should do IR-SE for season ender. IR-8 for 8 weeks and IR-4 for month out

by MJK :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 6:37pm

I think that's essentially what they're doing, functionally. Every team has an IR-SE list that has unlimited spots, and an IR-8 list that has exactly one spot (for the entire season).

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 9:34pm

Then you've got the preseason and regular season PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) lists. This new IR rule feels a bit like an extension to the PUP. Though I guess you have to be on the preseason PUP before you can be put on the regular season PUP and I don't think you can be put on the preseason PUP if you've taken part in any of the training camp practices (OTA's are fine though). I've got a feeling Derrek Sherrod is starting the season on the PUP for the Packers and not being carried on the roster.

And to refresh folks a bit more. If you are on the PUP at the start of the regular season you have to miss the first 6 games. At that point the team has 3 weeks to decide if they want you to start practicing. From the day you start practicing there is a new 3 week window to decide if the team wants to activate you, put you on IR, or give you an injury settlement and release. So the PUP can carry a player without eating a roster spot till week 12-13 (if the team has an early bye weeks since it's based on the first 6 games it can be week 7 when the first window opens.)

I would still like to see a more extensive injury system, though I understand that part of what the NFL is doing is preventing teams from stashing players on injury lists and rotating players around and such. Some of this is from pre salary cap days and some of the older rules, so I think so of what it is set up to prevent is handled by the new salary cap and nearly as importantly salary floor, which would give much less room for all this.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 7:33pm

Trade deadline move is good mive

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 9:36am

I'm confused.

If you have to designate the player as being on the special IR when you put him there, and he counts against your 53-man roster, how is it different than just having a guy who can't play at the moment, but you don't want to put on IR?

by akn :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 9:50am

The player has to make the final roster, but while he's on the special IR, he does not count against your roster, meaning you can bring in someone else while he's out. I think it's a little bit stupid in the case where someone gets injured during the preseason and you have to keep him on the active roster past all cutdowns before putting him on the special IR, but it's probably there to prevent shenanigans.

by Jerry :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 6:13pm

Yeah, it looks like players have to clear waivers (marked injured) during the preseason before they can be put on IR. Apparently enough teams felt that players were getting stashed that they've passed this rule.