How do PUP, NFI, IR and more impact LA Rams roster?
By Bret Stuter
With the sudden news about the LA Rams players moving to the PUP list, one player facing a 6-game suspension, and a host of other NFL terms to identify non-active roster designations, wouldn’t it be great if we have a list for those terms? Maybe this is as good of a time as any to revisit the complex and often confusing rules that govern the NFL team’s 53-man roster. Of course, we spend weeks analyzing, informing, speculating, and then re-analyzing how NFL players are added to the roster. But what about managing them once they arrive?
Well now, that’s where many of us fall silent. Sometimes it’s because it’s just not a sexy enough topic to attract thousands of readers. But more likely, it’s because it’s a tricky topic that changes the rules almost every year, and is very easy to get wrong.
Let’s recap: Second-year defensive lineman Bobby Browns III is facing a six-game suspension. The LA Rams have designated four players to the PUP list.
Physically Unable to Perform (PUP)
During training camp and the preseason, a player can be placed on the PUP list at any time without penalty, which means teams can add players back to their roster at any time. A player on the PUP list can’t practice until being cleared by a team’s medical staff, but may participate in team meetings and use team training and medical facilities.
The rules differ for any player that is placed on the PUP list at the start of the season. Those players must remain on it for a minimum of four games before they can be added to the active roster. Prior to this year’s rule change, players could not be reinstated from the PUP list until six weeks had passed.
Players can only be listed once on the PUP list. See Injured Reserve for additional rules changes:
Non-Football Injury (NFI)
The Non-Football injury (NFL) list is very similar in how it acts to the PUP list. Players are only eligible for this list if they are injured in a non-football setting. The NFI list acts like the PUP list, in that players who are on the list once the team has pared down their roster to 53 players must remain on this list for four games until they can be reinstated. See Injured Reserve for additional rules changes:
Injured Reserve (IR)
Over the past 2 seasons, the NFL permitted an unlimited amount of players to be moved to and from the team’s Injured Reserve roster. The only requirement was any player assigned to IR had to stay on the injured list for 3 weeks.
The rules for Injured Reserve designation are changing once more. Due to the risks of testing positive for COVID-19, the NFL and NFLPA mutually agreed to remove the restriction over the number of players that can be reinstated from any IR roster during the season. Now, with the dangers of COVID-19 no longer perceived as a life threatening risk to players, the number of times a team can activate a player from Injured Reserve and other exempt roster is now limited to eight times per season.
In addition, a player must spend at least four games on the injured reserve list before returning to the active roster, just like the PUP and NFI lists. Also, players can now return from IR twice in a single season, that was never addressed in the rules before. Each reinstatement counts once against the eight occasion limit per year.
Any player who was placed on injured reserve during camp or the preseason, before final roster cutdowns, have to stay there for the entire season
Players who are given an IR-Return Designation are players who are given a grace period to return to practice and ramp up his ability to synch up with teammates once more. That does not mean that he is automatically activated. It actually starts a 21-day countdown for the team to activate the player. If he is not activated within that 21-day window, he reverts back to IR and has to stay there the rest of the season
Last but not least, we have the Reserve/Suspended designation. With this designation, players are permitted to participate in all team activities until the team pares down their roster to the required 53-man limit. At that time, all players who have been identified for suspension will be required to avoid all team activities, including team practices and team meetings, for the duration of the suspension.
That’s about it. Hopefully we’ve covered all the designations, as well as the news nuances of the rules governing an NFL team’s roster.