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With trade deadline passed, one small thing to remember for NFL teams

Seattle Seahawks v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Tuesday the NFL trade deadline came and went without much of a whimper at all, in spite of the build up and hype surrounding the myriad of potential deals that could have been made. Whether teams were simply holding out for the large payday in return that has been seen in recent trades, including those for Jalen Ramsey and Laremy Tunsil, or whether bidders were trying to acquire assets at a discount at the deadline, we can’t be sure the reason for the lack of activity.

That said, with the trade deadline now in the rear view mirror, there is one fundamental change to the way the NFL operates from the end of the trade deadline until the start of the new league year the subsequent March, and that is how veterans are treated when they are cut. Going forward, all players cut or waived, regardless of how many years they have been in the NFL, are subject to the waiver system.

This isn’t an earth-moving change, but it can force teams to adjust the way they operate just a tiny bit. For example, if teams get tight on roster spots late in the season as multiple players succumb to injuries severe enough to keep them out of a Sunday game, but not severe enough to land them on injured reserve, that can create a roster crunch.

For example, back in late 2017 the Seahawks were battling a rash of injuries that were not quite severe enough to push a player to IR. Some of those included:

  • Earl Thomas dealing with a hamstring injury,
  • Marcus Smith recovering from a concussion,
  • Richard Sherman had tweaked his Achilles in Week 5, but was playing through,
  • Eddie Lacy had a groin issue,
  • Jeremy Lane had a thigh issue and dislocated fingers,
  • Dion Jordan was working back from the knee issue that had landed him on NFI,
  • Luke Joeckel was recovering from a follow-up procedure on his knee,
  • Jimmy Graham was Jimmy Graham,
  • and on and on the list went.

That laundry list of injuries pushed the team to where not only were the seven inactives all players who were unable to play for health reasons, the team had more than seven players they wanted to keep inactive. Thus, they waived 37 year old, fifteen year veteran Dwight Freeney. They reportedly wished to bring Freeney back once things had settled down on the injury front, however, that proved to be wishful thinking on their part. The Detroit Lions claimed him in order to bolster their pass rush for a late season playoff push that never developed, and the Seahawks never got Freeney back.

So far this season the Hawks aren’t dealing with nearly the number of injuries they were in 2017, and for the moment they are not on the brink of needing to cut a player to be able to field a full, healthy 46 man gameday roster. However, the health of a team can turn on a dime in the NFL, and this is an important piece to keep in mind down the stretch for both the Seahawks and other teams.