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Seahawks transactions: Back down to 52-man roster again amid penny-pinching moves

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA
Josh Forrest during training camp with the Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Seattle Seahawks take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday evening there are likely to be fewer than seven inactives because the team is going to play the game with just 52 players on the active roster after placing Josh Forrest on IR following a foot injury he suffered against the San Francisco 49ers.

This is the second time this season the team has gone into a game with only 52 players on the active roster, as they did the same thing in Week 5 when they took on the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks had placed Cliff Avril on IR prior to the matchup against the Rams, but had not replaced him on the roster.

As a result of the fact that the team will face off against the Eagles with only 52 players on the roster, the team had to make a corresponding change to the practice squad as well. Under Article 33, Section 4(a) of the CBA, a team may only keep a third year practice squad player on the practice squad if the team has 53 players on the active roster. Here is the relevant section:

Applicable portion of the CBA with relevant portion highlighed

With the team dropping down to 52 players for the game, that means that Isaiah Battle could not remain on the practice squad. Because he earned a practice squad season in both 2015 and 2016 while with the Rams, 2017 would be Battle’s third such season. Thus, he is not eligible to be on the practice squad as long as the team remains below 53 players on the active roster.

With this being the case, it may lead some to wonder why the team would place Josh Forrest on IR, leading to the team being forced to waive Battle from the practice squad, and that answer is simple: the salary cap. While putting veterans such as Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril on injured reserve does not result in any cap savings, many minimum salary and less experienced players have salary reduction clauses in their contracts that does save the team some money if that player is moved to IR. With Forrest having been poached off the LA practice squad earlier this year, he likely falls into this category, so moving Forrest to IR should save the team just under $8,000 per game. Add in the money saved by releasing Battle from the practice squad, and the savings realization from this move end up at over $15,000 per game.

It’s not a huge amount, but with the team being extremely tight against the cap any amount helps. What could be even more telling is if the team were to drop down to 51 for any of its remaining games if it were to place Chancellor on injured reserve.

In any case, the team is very tight against the cap with four games left after the game against Philadelphia, and if any new injuries come up, the team may have to move money around simply to free up enough cap space to finish out the season. That could come in the form of a contract extension for a player in the last year of their deal or through converting base salary to bonus money for a player with time left on their contract, but either way don’t be surprised if the team makes moves before the end of the year in order to alleviate some of these cap issues.