The 54-man roster trick has only one design flaw. In order to dump a vested veteran and bring him back the following week, the vested veteran must not sign with another team in the interim.
And that’s precisely what defensive lineman Trevor Pryce has done a day after being cut by the Ravens. As first reported by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and confirmed by PFT, Pryce has defected to the Jets.
It’s our understanding that the Ravens had an understanding with Pryce that he’d be coming back. Any such arrangement would be unenforceable at best, a violation of Article XXV, Section 1 of the CBA at worst; NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has confirmed that a team cannot promise to re-sign a player at a later date. Nevertheless, Mike Lombardi of NFL Network calls Pryce’s decision to sign with the Jets “serious,” and he suggests that the Ravens “won’t be doing a deal anytime in the near future” with Lamont Smith and Peter Schaffer of All Pro Sports & Entertainment, the agents who represent Pryce.
Regardless of whether the Ravens are upset about Pryce going elsewhere (and it’s our understanding that they aren’t upset), it’s the primary risk a team takes when hoping to dump a vested veteran and then pick him back up later.
And if the Ravens currently aren’t upset, we’ll see what happens if/when Pryce opts to take the balance of his $2 million base salary as termination pay — while also getting paid by the Jets.
UPDATE: Reached for comment on the situation, Schaffer responded to Lombardi’s comments. “You would hope that before Michael Lombardi would write something like that, he would call one of the two parties involved to get the facts,” Schaffer said. “Everything was done in a professional way. [G.M.] Ozzie [Newsome] and I have had numerous conversations over the past 48 hours and we’re comfortable with how the process went down.” Calling Lombardi’s remarks “irresponsible,” Schaffer said, “It was my obligation to present [Pryce] with the opportunity” to sign with the Jets.