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A key to note on the return of Darrell Taylor, Colby Parkinson and D.J. Reed

Georgia Tech v Tennessee Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Wednesday the players who could return to the Seattle Seahawks as reinforcements after the back week were reviewed, including the players on the nonfootball injury list. The dates at which these players, including Darrell Taylor, Colby Parkinson and D.J. Reed are eligible to return were laid out in that piece, but there is one very key game to keep in mind for all three of them: the Week 12 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This date is important for one simple reason, and that is that if those four players are not on the roster by the time the Week 12 game is played, they will not be able to be in full pay status for six or more games during the season. Six or more games of full pay status is important because that is what it takes to earn an accrued season, and accrued seasons are extremely important for the following reason:

“Restricted Free Agent” means a Veteran who has three Accrued Seasons and who completes performance of his Player Contract, but who is still subject to a Right of First Refusal and/or Draft Choice Compensation in favor of his Prior Club.

“Unrestricted Free Agent” means a Veteran with four or more Accrued Seasons, who has completed performance of his Player Contract, and who is no longer subject to any exclusive negotiating rights, Right of First Refusal, or Draft Choice Compensation in favor of his Prior Club.

Those definitions are, of course, pulled from Article 1 of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, and lay out the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent.

To make a long story short, as noted above, normally if those players are not promoted to the active roster or moved to injured reserve prior to the Week 12 game, they will not earn an accrued season during the 2020 NFL league year because they will not have been on the roster for six or more games.

During a normal NFL season, the same six game requirement would apply to players on the physically unable to perform list as well. That would mean that, as detailed regarding Rashaad Penny back in May, that players on the PUP list during their rookie contracts who are not activated prior to Week 12 could fail to earn an accrued season. However, due to COVID this season the NFL changed the accrued season calculation requirements for the majority of players. In the NFL’s CBA amendment for the 2020 season on August 3, the following is found:

14. Tolling Contracts and Accrued/Credited Seasons.

a. For the 2020 NFL Season, each player on a Club’s Week 1 Active/Inactive, Reserve/Injures, Reserve/COVID-19, or Reserve/Physcially Unable to Perform (R/I and R/PUP) list, or who is on the Commissioner Exempt list or has a Reserve/COVID-19 exmption, or is on the suspended list for either the Drug or Steroid Policy (but not for the entirety of the 2020 League Year such that he is on the Active/Inactive for at least one game), or is on the Club’s Week 1 Practice Squad (provided that he is on the Active/Inactive for at least one game) shall receive:

...

(iii) one (1) Accrued Season for being on full pay status for one (1) regular season game.

So, boiling that all down, what it means is that Penny is eligible to earn an accrued season as long as he is on the 53 man active roster for at least one game, however, of not in part 14.(a) is the absence of players on the Reserve/Nonfootball Injury list.

In short, even under the NFL COVID rules, it appears those players must be on the active roster for at least six games in order to earn an accrued season. That means that if Taylor, Reed and Parkinson are not activated prior to the Week 12 game against the Eagles, they will be unable to earn an accrued season in 2020. That means that at the conclusion of their rookie contracts, even if they earn an accrued season in each of the other three years of those contracts, they will wind up with just three accrued seasons. As noted above, three accrued seasons makes an NFL player a restricted free agent rather than an unrestricted free agent.

Yes, this is an issue that is several years away from being material to Taylor and Parkinson, and hopefully they will be active and contributing soon. However, if they are indeed unable to see the field for the Hawks prior to that late November trip to Philadelphia, the Seahawks could gain an extra year of club control at the back end of their rookie contracts. The clock is ticking, and that month and a half is likely to pass quickly.