When posting on Tuesday a brief blurb pointing out that the Saints had placed tackle Jammal Brown on injured reserve and also had signed offensive lineman Nick Leckey, I thought to myself, “That name sounds more familiar than it should.”
So, as I do in most cases when resolving a nagging question might actually require effort on my part, I ignored it.
But when I received today the e-mail notice from the Buccaneers that linebacker Matt McCoy has been re-signed, I remembered why Leckey’s name stood out from the crowd of bottom-of-the-roster slapolas who are trying their damnedest (and we respect for that, despite calling them slapolas, slappies, or slapdicks) to stick on an NFL team.
It’s the 54-man roster trick — a device for creating an extra roster spot by cutting late in a given week a vested veteran whom the team trusts to not sign with another team. By cutting the veteran on Saturday, the player misses no practice time (other than a walk-through) and loses no money. Then, the following week, the vested veteran is re-signed.
Typically, the player who was called up to fill a specific roster need is then cut again, just as the Bucs did with Urrutia. In New Orleans, however, the Saints have not yet been required to cut Daniel, since Brown has been placed on injured reserve.
Technically, the move violates no league rules — as long as the teams don’t tell the players who are cut that there will be a spot for them the following week and/or as long as the teams don’t seek assurances from the players (or their agents) that they won’t sign with other teams.
Surely, the Saints didn’t cut Leckey and the Bucs didn’t cut McCoy without explaining what would happen this week. Even more surely, neither team set those players loose without feeling pretty darn confident that they would re-sign this week.
And they have.
Here’s the caveat. After next month’s trading deadline, vested veterans must pass through waivers, so if a team tries the 54-man roster trick, there’s a risk that no amount of winking and/or nodding will ensure that the player who is cut on Saturday will still be available on Tuesday.