The NFL and NFLPA agreed on two rule changes today. The fact that they agreed on anything is a miracle, but these changes will noticeably affect player movement.
First, the trade deadline was moved from week six to week eight, which may well prompt more in-season moves. Will the NFL’s trade deadline become more like MLB’s? Probably not, but there’s some talk that the pushed-back deadline will make teams that are already out of contention unload star players for draft picks.
The league and players also agreed to a change in the injured reserve rule. Under the old rule, if a team put someone on injured reserve that player had to sit out the entire season.
Now, one player per team can return from injured reserve during the season, providing they are on the season-opening roster. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to someone like Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop, who was put on IR last week after having surgery on his hamstring.
The player going on IR and then coming off has to be part of the team’s final 53-man roster. Where this could benefit the Packers is with someone like tackle Derek Sherrod, who’s recovering from a broken leg.
If they determine he won’t be ready to start the season, they could keep Sherrod on the final roster through Tuesday, put him on IR then and sign someone else to occupy his roster spot with the idea of taking him off when he’s ready.
Update: The NFL modified this new IR rule for this season to allow a guy who’s already on injured reserve to be added back to the active roster by Friday and then returned to IR next Tuesday. In that case, he’d be eligible to return during the season. If the Packers choose to do so, they could bring Bishop back late in 2012 by taking advantage of this rule and its exception.