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Key dates as training camp end approaches, rosters to get trimmed

John Schneider and Pete Carroll Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

It’s the first day of September, which means the heart of summer is in the rear view mirror, children across the former Soviet Union are returning to school and the 2020 NFL season is just days away. Fans were forced to live without live sports for much of the spring and summer as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but with the NFL set to premier on Thursday September, 10 when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Houston Texans, football is almost here.

That said, a ton of news will break in the nine days between now and the opening kickoff in Kansas City next week. Rosters must be trimmed, hundreds of players will hit the waiver wire, practice squads will be built and dozens of players across the league are likely to be moved to injured reserve, and, in short, it will be a weekend chock full of news and announcements across the league. So, with that in mind, here are some of the key dates and deadlines to know for the coming weekend.

  • 4 PM New York Time Saturday, September 5 - rosters must be trimmed to 53
  • 12 PM New York Time Sunday, September 6 - waiver claim deadline for players waived Saturday
  • 1 PM New York Time Sunday, September 6 - teams may sign players to the practice squad (up to 16 players)
  • After 4 PM New York Time Sunday, September 6 - Players moved to injured reserve after 4 PM Sunday are eligible to return to the 53 man roster and play during 2020.

The first listed deadline is rather simple, in that all teams must trim their roster to 53 players prior to 4 PM New York Time on Saturday. In order to get to 53 players, teams may waive, release, move players to injured reserve, the regular season physically unable to perform list, the regular season nonfootball injury list or have the player moved to the Commissioner’s Exempt list.

For the Seattle Seahawks, this means that between the injuries from which Rashaad Penny, Colby Parkinson and Darrell Taylor are still recovering, along with the two game suspension of Kyle Fuller, the Hawks may only need to cut 23 players rather than 27.

The second deadline, the waiver claim deadline of noon New York Time on Sunday is rather self explanatory. Many of the players cut on Saturday will go through waivers, as they will have fewer than four accrued season. That means those players could wind up playing for any of the other 31 teams in the NFL.

Any of those players who are claimed off waivers, should find out where they will be playing in 2020 prior to the 1 PM deadline Sunday. Once teams and those players who were claimed off waivers learn which players are going where, a free for all opens at 1 PM Sunday as teams race to form their practice squads. Between expanded practice squads and the added difficulties of performing a physical during the pandemic, this could create a situation in which teams are more likely to retain their own players on the practice squad than in years past, but this won’t be known until teams actually begin forming their practice squads.

The last deadline is the one that most often trips up and confuses fans. So, for complete clarity, here is the applicable section from the league bylaws approved in May: (Author’s note: Bolding added to the applicable portion of the rule for reader simplification.)

Amend Article XVII, Section 17.16 (C) of the Constitution and Bylaws to read

Reserve/Injured 17.16 The following rules govern Reserve/Injured:

(C) Designated Free Activation from Reserve Injured and Reserve NonFootball Injury/Illness. During each season a team will be permitted to return three players from either the Reserve/Injured or the Reserve/Non-Football Injury/Illness List to its 53-player Active/Inactive List. Such players must have suffered a major football-related injury or nonfootball-related injury or illness (defined as an injury that renders the player physically unable to practice or play football for a period of at least six weeks [42 calendar days] from the date that the injury or illness occurred) after reporting to training camp and must have been placed on the applicable Reserve List after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the final roster reduction. A player who is eligible to return must be noted as “Designated for Return” on the first day that he returns to practice.

A player is ineligible to practice until six weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve, and is not eligible to return to the Active/Inactive List until eight games have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve. (A regular season bye week does not count as a game. Conversely, a postseason bye week counts as a game.) The business day (prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time) that a player is placed on Reserve counts as the first day.

As the NFL business day ends at 4 PM New York Time, any player placed on injured reserve after 4:00 PM New York Time would show up on the transactions wire on Monday, September 7. It would be at that point in time that a team which released a veteran player not subject to waivers in order to carry a player the team intended to move to injured reserve after 4:00 Sunday would then be able to officially bring the released veteran back. Thus, it would not be a surprise at all if the Seahawks were to release Geno Smith or Nick Bellore for a day or two in order to be able to move a player like Phillip Dorsett or Cedrick Ogbuehi to injured reserve if the team decides their injuries are serious enough to warrant a nine week recovery period.

So, those are the deadlines for the weekend, and now it’s time for us fans to sit back and enjoy an overload of football news in the coming days.