After Carson Wentz landed on COVID-19 reserve earlier today, Andrew Luck’s name landed on the short list of trending topics on Twitter.
But Luck can’t return to the Colts at this point in the season, even if he wanted to. The NFL has confirmed to PFT that, after Week 13, players on a team’s reserve-retired list cannot play.
Luck continues to be on the Indianapolis reserve/retired list. For Luck to return, the Colts would have to release his rights, hope he clears waivers, and then sign him as a free agent.
That same procedure would have applied to Drew Brees, if he’d accepted an invitation from the Saints to sacrifice himself during Monday night’s christians-to-the-lions matchup in the Superdome. The Saints, based on the procedure explained by the league, would have had to release Brees, wait for him to clear waivers, and then sign him as a free agent.
Luck would surely be snatched by another team, if released by the Colts. Would someone have claimed Brees on waivers? Doing so would have blocked the Saints from getting him for Monday’s game, in the same way that the Chargers’ decision to make a waivers claim for Deion Sanders in 2002 prevented him from exiting Washington’s reserve/retired list so that he could play for the Raiders.
In contrast, Philip Rivers is a free agent, and he can sign with any team at any time. That’s why, for any player considering a potential return, it’s always better to be a free agent than to be on a reserve/retired list.