NFL owners will vote on an interesting rule change proposal next week at the Spring League Meeting and according to one esteemed columnist, it’s likely to be approved.
According to Judy Battista of NFL.com, the rule change proposal in question is designed to allow a second player to come off a team’s Reserve/Injured list during a season. Currently, NFL rules allow teams to bring back one player from their Reserve/Injured list during a season. That player, however, must first sit out at least eight weeks prior to being allowed to return. Additionally, teams currently do not have to designate which player they want to return from their Reserve/Injured list until such a move is actually made.
Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers wound up using their one designated to return allowance on outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who missed the first half of the year due to a sports hernia that needed to be surgically repaired. Throughout the 2016 regular season, the Steelers also wound up placing cornerback Senquez Golson (foot), tackle Ryan Harris (leg), center Cody Wallace (knee), linebacker Steven Johnson (ankle), wide receiver Markus Wheaton (shoulder) and safety Shamarko Thomas (concussion) on their Reserve/Injured list as well.
So, how would the proposed rule change likely have changed the Steelers roster juggling in 2016? For starters, the Steelers carried the injured Golson and Wallace on their 53-man roster for several weeks to start the season with hopes that both would eventually be able to return later on in the year. They probably took that course of action being as Dupree, a higher profile player, was placed on their Reserve/Injured list just ahead of the regular season getting underway with the notion that he would likely be the lone player they would designate to return.
Had the new proposal been in effect last season, either Golson or Wallace probably could have been placed on the Steelers Reserve/Injured list along with Dupree ahead of Week 1 and thus such a move would have freed up another spot on their 53-man roster in the process. Golson, by the way, didn’t get placed on the Steelers Reserve/Injured list until October 8 while Wallace stayed on their 53-man roster until November 5.
If the proposed rule change does indeed wind up passing like Battista believes it will, one would think that the withstanding details concerning designated players to return will remain the same and that includes players initially placed on a team’s Reserve/Injured list at the start of the regular season needing to first be kept on their initial 53-man roster just ahead of Week 1. Once that stipulation is met, teams can then place a player or players on their Reserve/Injured list a few days ahead of the regular season getting underway with the hopes that each can ultimately get healthy enough to return after sitting out for at least eight weeks.
Personally, I like this proposed rule change as it should result in team’s being able to manage their 53-man roster a little better at the start of a regular season at the very least. In the future, however, hopefully the rule is modified even further so that teams can get more players who have suffered non season-ending-type injuries back later in a year as well.