Patriots: Bill Belichick has new chance to be roster-building wizard with 2020 rules
By Jerry Trotta
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can be a roster-building machine in 2020.
Thanks to front office wizard Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots are normally two or three steps ahead of the rest of the NFL as it pertains to exploiting the particulars of updated rules and protocols.
As it turns out, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the league to implement new policies for roster management, and the official terms seem like a match made in heaven for the legendary head coach.
If we know anything about Belichick, it’s that he’s poised to take full advantage of this contemporary blueprint. Patriots fans honestly shouldn’t be surprised if the team is making several roster moves on a week-to-week basis.
Let’s start with injured reserve, which can essentially be broken into two sections. The first is pretty self explanatory, as the respective seasons of players who are placed on the list before the roster deadline on Saturday are over. A prime example of this would be Pro Bowl safety Derwin James, who was placed on IR by the Los Angeles Chargers after it was revealed he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
The second part becomes pertinent now that the roster deadline has passed. Basically, any player on the Patriots active roster can be sent to the IR. What’s different this season is that they (a truly unlimited number of players) can return to the team after a minimum of three weeks
If a player goes down with an injury, New England can give him the injured reserve designation and re-sign a recently waived player so long as he was unclaimed. Take running back Lamar Miller, for instance.
Then comes the practice squad, which has increased to 16 (!) players. You just know that Belichick loves every second of this. Six of those spots can be taken by veterans, no matter their experience in the league. Want another neat tidbit? Four players on the practice squad can be labeled un-poachable by other teams. Everybody else is expendable.
In case of emergency — like a last minute positive COVID-19 test — up to two practice squad players can be promoted as the 54th and 55th roster members on game day. They can then return to the PS without being available for the plucking on waivers.
Brace yourselves, Patriots fans, because these updates indicate that Belichick will be in rare form this season in terms of him tweaking the roster.