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NFL Changes Trade Deadline, Injured Reserve Rules

The latest changes that the NFLPA and the league have agreed upon aren't Earth-shattering, but they could have some impact to the NFL season.

There has been a lot of momentum in recent years to try to get the NFL's trade deadline pushed back. While the other major American sports leagues have a trading deadline that comes well after the halfway point of the season, the NFL has traditionally cut off all trades after Week 6. The early deadline date has meant that there are no real "buyers" and "sellers" because most teams are still theoretically in the playoff hunt after only six weeks. Mid-season trades are much less frequent in the NFL than in baseball, basketball, or hockey. The theory is that moving the trading deadline back would make for a busier and more exciting period of NFL trades.

The time to test that theory is now.

The change isn't as drastic as some would prefer, but Adam Schefter is reporting that the NFL trading deadline has been pushed back to the Tuesday after the eighth week of the season. The two week change may not make a huge difference to deadline trade action, but it might be interesting to see if bottom-dwelling teams are more willing to sell off assets to contenders for future draft picks.

But wait--there's more!

Schefter is reporting that the Injured Reserve rules have been tweaked as well. Until today, if a team put a player on the IR, he was ineligible to play for the entire season. Now teams can re-activate one player during the season if certain conditions apply:

Only players with a "major injury" who are placed on Reserve/Injured after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on Tuesday, September 4, or thereafter during the season, will be eligible to be reactivated at a later time.

So for example, if a player suffers a major injury in the first game of the season, they can put the player on IR to free up a roster spot for a healthy player. If the injured player can come back before the end of the season, the team can re-activate him. It gives teams a little more flexibility, especially with injuries to star players with uncertain return times.

The changes may not be revolutionary, but they could still have an impact to how certain teams are built at the end of the 2012 season.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.