With all the preseason action now behind us, the 32 NFL clubs begin the arduous task of reducing down the roster to 53 in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season. A lot of activity on the wire will waive and terminate players accordingly, and I’m sure there’ll be a few designations pop up that some of you might not be accustomed to. I’ve been following this site over the summer and thought I’d introduce you through a post put up this week on injury settlements in the National Football League.
This is a nice job by Jason of OverTheCap.com in his breakdown and explanation of how clubs use injury settlements to release a player currently injured in some capacity. With the seemingly high number of players going down this preseason, you’re likely to have seen or will see this used quite a bit in the reduction of NFL rosters to the mandatory limit.
The Football Educator
What Exactly are Injury Settlements?
One of the topics of discussion that has popped up a lot on Twitter has been surrounding injury settlements. I think there are some misconceptions about what exactly an injury settlement is so let’s try to clear those up as best as possible. Feel free to chime in the comments, Twitter, or e-mail if you see something you feel is incorrect and I’ll do my best to update it.
The CBA protects players who are injured performing football activities. Essentially if you are injured your salary is protected, but it is only protected to a point. Remember there are various extents of injuries that occur in the NFL. An ACL tear is devastating and will cause a player to miss the entire season. That is a major injury and the player will earn his entire Paragraph 5 salary for the year. But many of the injuries that land a player on IR are minor and are classified as such when placement on IR occurs. Those players, as soon as they are healthy enough to play football, are released from the team. Once released they may not re-sign with their former team for the duration of the season.
Injury settlements are, in some ways, a method to skirt the above rules as well as a way to give players an opportunity to earn a better living elsewhere. Contrary to what some believe a settlement is not a negotiation of price. It’s really a negotiation of weeks. When a minor injury occurs a determination is made for weeks that the player will miss due to injury. The options would be to hold the player until he is healthy enough to be released or to have the two sides agree right away as to the amount of weeks that the injury should keep the player sidelined.
Once the weeks are agreed upon the team simply agrees to pay the player as if he was on the roster for those weeks. Teams and players have a 5 day window to agree to this settlement. Once the settlement occurs the player is again released from the team (in most cases exposed to waivers), except in this situation the player can return to the team, with a bit of a catch. The player is not allowed to return to the team until the length of the settlement passes plus another 6 weeks.
Let’s see how this works in practice. An undrafted rookie player gets injured at the end of training camp and is waived with an injury designation, so that a team that claims him knows that they are claiming an injured player. If he goes unclaimed, which is likely, he reverts back to the teams Injured list. From that point the team and player have five days to negotiate the settlement.