Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi was allowed to resume practicing this past week as the team started his 21-day clock as a designated to return from Reserve/Injured player on Wednesday. While it was speculated that Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers would also have his 21-day practice clock started this past week, that didn’t happen and thus he remains planted on the team’s Reserve/PUP list for the time being.
While Rogers did not have his 21-day practice clock started this past week, it doesn’t mean that he must now sit out the remainder of the season like another site posted this past week. Prior to a 2017 NFL bylaw change, teams had until the day after their eleventh regular season game (including any bye week) to begin practicing players on their Reserve/PUP list for a period not to exceed 21 days. That deadline, however, was done away with via a vote by NFL owners in March 2017. In short, players on a team’s Reserve/PUP list can now begin practicing at any time beginning on the sixth calendar day prior to the club’s seventh regular season game (including any bye week) and beyond.
Michael Signora, the NFL’s Vice President of Football Communications, also confirmed this 2017 league bylaw change for me via an email and in case you’re curious, last season we saw the Seattle Seahawks take advantage of the old deadline being done away with.
Last season, the Seahawks placed cornerback DeShawn Shead on the team’s Reserve/PUP list on September 2, 2017 as he continued his recovery from a surgically repaired ACL. Shead, however, didn’t have his 21-day practice clock started until December 6, 2017 and he was ultimately activated to the Seahawks 53-man roster on December 23, 2017.
Rogers, who suffered an ACL tear of his own in last year’s Steelers playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, should now be fully recovered from the January surgery he had to repair it. However, the Steelers don’t currently have a need for him on their 53-man roster with six healthy wide receivers already on it.
With Rogers currently playing on a one-year contract that he signed at the start of this year’s training camp,. it will now be interesting to see if that deal tolls in 2019. Below is the CBA language related to the contract tolling for players who spend time on PUP in the final year of their deal.
“Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.”
Shead, by the way, had his 2017 contract year toll with the Seahawks during the offseason but the team decided to release him in March. In the case of Rogers, if he was deemed healthy enough to perform his football services as of the Steelers sixth regular season game, he might could file grievance to not have his contract toll in 2019. We saw New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater recently go through a similar situation this past offseason with the Minnesota Vikings but the NFL decided not to toll his contract.
We have plenty of time to worry about if Rogers’ contract will toll in 2019 and the wide receiver still has time to get himself back on the team’s 53-man roster in 2018 should they need him.