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NFL owners approve moving trade deadline, allowing IR exemption

Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton

Injured Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler talks with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Kyle Orton (8) after the Chiefs’ 10-3 win in an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


The NFL owners voted today to approve moving the trade deadline back two weeks and tweaking the injured reserve rule, two changes that will be implemented for the 2012 season if the league and the union can agree on the details.

Moving the trade deadline from Week Six to Week Eight has been discussed for years, and it became a subject of much conversation last year when the Broncos waived Kyle Orton shortly after the trade deadline, at a time when the Bears had just lost Jay Cutler and would have traded for Orton if they could have. Today’s vote of the owners means the trade deadline will be later this year, if the Management Council and the NFL Players Association reach an agreement on it.

The change to the injured reserve rule would allow each team to put one player on injured reserve for only part of the season, rather than making every player’s season come to an end if he’s placed on injured reserve. Under the revised rule, a player who is on the roster for Week One and then gets hurt during the season can be placed on injured reserve and designated for return, and then can return to practice six weeks later and play in a game eight weeks later.

It’s unknown whether the union will have any objections to either proposal. The injured reserve change would seem to benefit players who suffer injuries with a recovery time of several weeks -- those players could go on injured reserve for part of the year so they don’t count against their teams’ roster limits, then come back when they’re healthy again. The trade deadline change might be opposed by some players who would prefer not to have to change teams in the middle of the season, although in most cases it’s better for a player to be traded than waived, so that would seem to be a change that players could support as well.