This spring, the NFL owners approved a change in the rules, and Collective Bargaining Agreement, allowing teams to place a player on the injured reserve list in training camp, then remove him later in the season. Under the old system, whenever a player was placed on injured reserve, their season was over, even if they could have been cleared to play late in the season.
With the new system, one player a year per team could be placed on IR, then removed later, meaning teams would not have to try to decide between carrying an injured player on their roster throughout the season hoping he would recover. Last season, the Indinapolis Colts kept quarterback Peyton Manning on the roster, intially hoping he would be cleared to return at some point during the season.
If the approved system were in place, the team could have placed Manning on injured reserve, knowing they could remove him later if he were cleared, allowing the Colts to add another player to their roster - and, another player to play in the league. In that sense, the new system would benefit not just the teams, but the players as well, as more roster positions, even if just temporary, would be available.
Yet, as Big Blue View's Ed Valentine discovered yesterday, the rule ha not been implemented yet. The NFL is awaiting approval from the NFL Players Association to start using the new injured reserve rule. Valetine was looking at the options the New York Giants have with cornerback Terrell Thomas, who is trying to recover from a torn ACL.
"It's something that it could be three weeks, it could be eight weeks," Thomas said, according to the Big Blue View report. "I'm not going to jeopardize my career."
Thomas would be a perfect candidate for the IR rule change. But, right now, teams and the league are in limbo, waiting for the NFLPA to sign off on the planned change. According to Valetine's story, the NFLPA is all for the change, yet has not done anything with it yet.
The change could also be useful with the Miami Dolphins, where wide receiver Brian Hartline has been attempting to rehab a calf injury throughout training camp. Hartline also had an appendectomy this summer. If Hartline cannot get cleared to play football early in this preseason, the team could look to use the new IR rule to allow him to get into football shape, while carrying an additional, active, wide receiver.
After Valetine broke the story yesterday, ESPN put up their own story today, with John Clayton reporting that, not only is the IR change not yet in place, butthe NFLPA has also not yet approved the change of the trade deadline proposed and approved by the NFL. Currently, the NFL trade deadline is the Tuesday after the sixth week of the season. The league is looking to move it to the Tuesday after Week Eight.