A Brief Explanation of the New NFL IR and Trade Rules Tweet
I had a request to give an overview of the new rules this year so here we go:
The NFL now allows a team to place a player on a “temporary” injured list with an option to activate the player at a later date. In many ways the rule is simply an extension of the physically unable to perform list, however PUP does not allow for a player who has practiced even once to be placed on the list. The IR rule is primarily designed to give an opportunity to a player who is injured in the preseason, but not seriously enough to miss the whole season, to play in the regular season. The reason I say the preseason is because there is a long waiting period between the player being placed on IR and being active again, just like PUP. The way it works is as follows:
A team, following the final cutdown date, places a player on IR with the designation “designated for return”. A player on IR continues to count against the salary cap per the terms of their contract. Players with gameday or active roster bonuses will not earn such bonuses. Likewise a player with a salary split will earn the lower salary on IR. The player is not allowed to practice while on IR until 6 weeks following his placement on the list. This means a player placed on IR prior to the first week is eligible to practice, but not play, in week 7 of the season. The player can be activated to play after 8 weeks on the list, meaning the player placed on IR prior to week one can not play in an NFL game until week 9 of the NFL season. Once active the contract returns to active status with the player receiving full salary and once again eligible for bonuses contained in the contract.
It is this 8 week waiting period which is why I feel it is mainly for players injured in preseason. In theory you could use it later for a player, especially if you are a playoff squad, but the impact is lessened as the year goes on. For the most part once week 8 passes so does any opportunity to use the list unless you can activate someone for a late playoff game. It is unclear if you can use the designation for multiple players and I have not read the full text of the rules to see if that is the case. While you can only activate 1 player per season, I guess it may be possible to place as many players as you want on the designated list and then choose which one to activate, but again that is just a guess on my part.
The League agreed to push the trade deadline back two weeks, from the Tuesday after week 6 to the Tuesday following week 8 of the regular season. In some ways I guess this goes hand in hand with the IR rule, since players injured as it gets closer to week 8 are not going to use the new IR status. So this gives teams more time to see where they are with injuries as well as how the season is playing out. That said, in-season trades are rare. You have to find perfect matches of teams playing similar systems or older players going back to play with a coach whose system they understand. For example trading any player on the Jets offense who played for Brian Schottenheimer last season to the Rams is probably realistic, but trading a Jets player to the Green Bay Packers, who play totally different schemes, would not work.
From a cap perspective the way a trade works is that you will count, on your salary cap, every dollar that player has earned thus far. I’ll use Santonio Holmes as an example, since Im sure fans will be interested in discussing him if the Jets have a slow start to the year. Lets say the Jets trade Holmes following the 8th week of the year. His cap charge for the Jets would consist of the following:
Paragraph 5- $3,647,059 (8 weeks of pay)
Prorated Money- $1,250,000
Workout Bonus- $250,000
That would total $5,147,058, a cap savings of $4,102,941 from his cap charge if he was to be on the team the whole year. That $4.1 million would be the cap charge the acquiring team would take on and owe him for the remainder of the season. Because the trade occurs after June 1 any future prorated money accelerates to next years cap. That would mean the Jets would also carry a dead hit of $3,750,000 in 2013, the same as if they traded him around the draft next season.
When a player is traded all terms of the contract carry to the new team, meaning the Jets would be off the hook for any salary guarantees contained in the future part of the contract. If there was a team desperate enough for talent now it might help facilitate a trade for a player like Holmes with a large guarantee next season that may not be worth the production on the field. There is also a chance that a team could do as the Rams did with Jason Smith or the Seahawks with Aaron Curry and prepay some of that money in the form of a prorated bonus right before the trade, mimicking a baseball style trade for a disappointing player that the team wants to get off the books.
I don’t see this being a major factor this year as two weeks is not much of a difference, but it does open up a few extra possibilities for teams with underperforming talent to go to a team with a chance to win as well as players in their final year to be an option for a team with a hole to have a ˝ season rental in hopes of making a playoff run.