In a surprise move, the NFL Players’ Association has agreed to the NFL’s request that the trade deadline be moved back from Week Six to Week Eight, and that one player per team can return to the field later in the season after being placed on injured reserve.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the players’ union agreed to the rules changes today, just a week after the union was saying no deal because the league was trying to tie those rules to changes in the rules about padded practices. It’s unclear for now how the union and the NFL were able to find common ground on the issue.
The change means that the trade deadline will now be the Tuesday after the Week Eight games, instead of the Tuesday after the Week Six games. That could be great news for teams that suffer an injury to a key player in Week Seven or Week Eight and need to trade for a player to replace him. Detractors of the rules change have suggested it could encourage bad teams to give up on the season and trade away their best players for draft picks.
With the injured reserve rule, one player per team may go on IR early in the season and then return to the field later in the season. So a player who suffers an injury that’s expected to keep him out for a few months could go on IR but still play again. Steelers rookie offensive lineman David DeCastro, who is expected to miss about three months with the knee injury he suffered last week, could be a perfect fit for the new system.