Procedural refresher with roster cuts quickly approaching for Seahawks

Thursday night the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 22-14 to open their preseason, and one week from Sunday the team will take the field for Week 2 of the preseason against the Minnesota Vikings. While that might seem like the mid point of preseason for many, the simple fact is that the end of camp roster cuts are rapidly approaching, with teams set to trim down to 53 players prior to 4 pm Eastern on August 31, just three weeks from yesterday.

As fans will most certainly be discussing these roster cuts and debating who should, and who should not, make it, there will also be discussions of whether players should be put on injured reserve. However, the injured reserve rules can get somewhat confusing, so this is a quick refresher on the basics so as to help avoid confusion in the discussion in the coming weeks.

There are effectively two key dates when it comes to cuts and injured reserve, and this year those are

  • 4 pm New York Time, August 31: Deadline by which all teams must reduce the active roster to 53 players
  • 4 pm New York Time, September 1: Any player placed on IR prior to this time is finished for 2019 and ineligible to return during this coming season.

So, any player that the team moves to injured reserve during the preseason is done for the year, and the player must stay on the 53 man roster for 24 hours after the deadline for final roster cuts before being moved to IR in order to be eligible to return. That’s all that needs to be remembered, so think of it like that, and it’s relatively simple and easy to remember.

Now, in between those two deadlines come two other important deadlines of note. The first of those is that all players cut on August 31 who have three or fewer accrued seasons are subject to waivers. Any player who is put through the waiver system may be claimed by any of the other 31 teams based on the waiver priority determined by the standings at the end of the 2018 season. That does mean that the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers would have first and second dibs on any player the Seahawks, and every of team in the NFL, waive come cut down time.

Those players who wind up on the waiver wire may be claimed by any team prior to noon New York time on Sunday, September 1, with teams being notified of the players they were awarded on waiver claims by 1 pm New York time that same day.

At that point, once it becomes which players cleared waivers, teams may begin building their practice squads from the players who cleared waivers. While teams will traditionally build their practice squads from players who were with the team in training camp the season prior, on occasion teams will get into a bidding war for a player from another team. Just a couple of recent examples of this for the Seahawks include Alex Collins, who wound up on the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens in 2017, and in 2018 Alex McGough was paid the league minimum salary for a player on the 53 man roster while on the practice squad in order to keep him from signing with the practice squad of another team.

Thus, with roster cuts just 20 days away and the competition at several positions set to be heated, things will certainly be interesting to discuss between now and cut down day.

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John P. Gilbert
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