Injured NFL teams find no reprieve from IR rules — here's why


NFL teams dealing with a ton of injuries will have to navigate the second half of the 2022 regular season under new injured reserve rules.

In the previous two seasons, there was no limit as to how many players a team could bring off IR due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that’s no longer the case. Teams will now be capped once they hit a certain number of IR activations.

As the race to the playoffs really heats up, here’s what to know about the new IR rules.

What is injured reserve in the NFL and how does it work?

A player can be placed on injured reserve after suffering a football injury. If a player suffers a non-football injury, they are eligible for the non-football injury (NFI) list.

The benefit of IR is it doesn’t count toward a team’s 53-man roster. So when a team moves a player from its active roster to IR, it opens up a 53-man roster spot. Once a player is placed on IR, they are unable to play in any games until being activated.

There is no limit on how many players a team can place on IR, but there is a limit as to how many can be designated to return. A team can bring a maximum of eight players off IR throughout the season. The same player can be activated off IR up to two times, but both activations would subtract from the team’s allowed total of eight.

From 2012-16, teams were only allowed to activate one player off IR before the number was increased to two from 2017-19.

How many games must an NFL player miss while on IR?

A player must be sidelined for a minimum of four games before coming off IR. In 2020 and 2021, a player on IR was only required to miss three games.

Does a bye week count toward an NFL player’s IR stint?

A bye week does not count toward a player’s stay on injured reserve.

Does an NFL player get paid while on injured reserve?

A player still gets paid – and counts toward the salary cap – while on IR.

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