NFL adopts a smart bylaw change to eliminate roster chicanery

USA Today

The NFL smartly approved a bylaw change to the way the initial 53-man roster gets constructed at the end of the preseason. Proposed by the Lions, the new rule will eliminate some of the roster chicanery that teams have been forced to do.

In the past, players who were injured during the preseason or training camp had to make the initial 53-man roster before they could be placed on injured reserve. If they weren’t on that initial roster, they were ineligible to come back in the season; being placed on IR before the season effectively meant the season was over for that player with that team.

That procedural method led to some chaos every summer, with teams cutting veterans with the explicit purpose of creating a place on the 53-man roster for a player they were going to place on injured reserve. The Lions did this last August with Craig Reynolds; they released the running back in order to open a roster spot for Julian Okwara, who was subsequently placed on injured reserve immediately after making the roster. Reynolds was re-signed as soon as Okwara’s move to IR was processed, as was the plan the whole time.

The new rule allows teams to avoid this sort of roster sleight of hand. During the final roster reduction to 53 players, teams can move up to two players to injured reserve while maintaining their eligibility to return during the season.

This is a smart change, one that will prevent the task of having to tell a player who made the 53-man roster that he’s got to suddenly be unemployed for a couple of days because one of his teammates is injured.

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