NOTE: The NFL's official announcement of this rule contained language that substantively impacted this post. Players already placed on injured reserve could in fact be eligible for reactivation. Updated post here.
A last-minute agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association finalized two significant rule changes that once appeared doomed for 2012. We've spent some time discussing the proposed one-time exception to injured reserve rules, and it appears there is at least one important caveat to bring forward before people get their hopes too high about what the agreement means.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, teams will have the option to activate one player off injured reserve during the 2012 season. I'm not certain yet of the timing, but the original rule proposal allowed the player to resume practicing after six weeks. But importantly, that player must have been part of the team's original 53-man roster, to be determined Friday, and remain there at least through Tuesday afternoon.
That eliminates players who are already on injured reserve, including Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop and Chicago Bears safety Brandon Hardin, from being candidates for activation. To be fair, it's not clear whether Bishop (hamstring) or Hardin (neck) will be healthy before the end of the season. Regarldess, they remain ineligible to play until 2013.
So in the end, we won't be able to start a list of candidates until next Wednesday. We'll let you know if anything materializes.
Note: The other rule change will push back the NFL trading deadline two weeks. It is now the Tuesday after Week 8 of the regular season, which for the 2012 season is Oct. 30.