The NFL is continuing to update rules and while a lot of those changes are debatable, the changes around management of the roster are objectively an improvement. You might not find this kind of stuff all that exciting but the NFL has made a lot of amazingly stupid decisions recently. I can say safely that the rules changes you are about to see are far from an error.
From a focus on getting players back on the field after a moderate injury to expanding flexibility in managing a game-day roster, the updates the league has made to the business side of football are going to keep players, fans, owners, sponsors and general managers really happy.
The physically unable to perform list (or PUP) is one such updated protocol. Players who are coming back from a football injury, who are unable to participate in team drills, can still be part of meetings and individual recovery and give the opportunity to remain on the PUP list moving into the regular season for the first four games. During that time, when then 53-man rosters are submitted, the player who was designated on PUP to start the regular season will not count as an active player and the team will be able to use his 53-man roster spot on another player. Once the player has passed the first four games on the schedule, the team gets an additional five weeks to activate or release that player.
Injured Reserve was something used throughout the last few seasons primarily due to positive COVID tests. Now, players may be placed on Injured Reserve, however, the team only has eight designations for a player to return. In short, the team can only return eight players that were placed on Injured Reserve for the entire season, regardless of reason. This is a huge change and a far cry from the rules even pre-pandemic.
The Practice Squad is also seeing a rule change. A team can now carry 16 players, 6 of which can have unlimited NFL experience. The team can also activate each player for up to three games each season, which is likely a response to the changes to the Injured Reserve rules. The player does not have to be placed on waivers to return back to the Practice Squad, which is something that we saw change just a couple seasons ago. On top of that change, Practice Squad players have unlimited eligibility for any post-season games, meaning that you can activate your entire Practice Squad in the playoffs without having to make any moves to your 53-man roster.
Listen, I know these changes aren’t going to get you so excited that you lose sleep over it but the football nerd in me today acknowledges that football just got better, removing old policies to improve the product on the field and in the front offices.