FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the Patriots claimed safety Josh Barrett off waivers from the Denver Broncos on Friday afternoon, the move left many wondering why Barrett had been exposed to waivers in the first place. Facing season-ending shoulder surgery, Barrett was waived/injured by the Broncos, the precursor to his placement on the team’s injured/reserve list.
In order to prevent teams from stashing young players, NFL rules require that injured players who are not vested veterans must first pass through waivers before being placed on the injured reserve list prior to the 75-man roster cut-down date; this year, that date is August 31. In NFL terms, a vested veteran is a player with four or more credited seasons. Barrett, drafted in 2008, has only two such seasons.
Teams also have the option of moving a player to injured reserve and still having him count against the 80-man roster until the 75-man cut-down date, or keeping the injured player on their active list until that date. In the case of the Broncos, they chose to expose Barrett to waivers.
It is a normal occurrence each preseason in the NFL, and rarely are these waived/injured players claimed by other teams. Last August, the Jacksonville Jaguars claimed Don Carey, who was waived/injured by the Cleveland Browns. The Jaguars kept Carey on their 80-man roster until the 75-man cut-down date, at which time they moved him to injured reserve without having to first expose him to waivers.
In the case of Barrett, the Patriots are likely to follow the same procedure, provided that the team feels that he is not healthy enough to play this season.