The New York Jets start training camp on July 29 but this does not mean everyone will be allowed to participate in practice. A physical is given at the beginning of camp and the team’s physician determines anyone unable to perform due to a football related injury. The team can then place the player on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Those who pass the physical and start practicing automatically lose their eligibility for PUP.
An eligible player starts camp on active/PUP, taking up one of the 90 training camp active roster spots. They are not allowed to practice, but can work with trainers to rehabilitate from their injury and can also attend meetings. When the team determines that the player is healthy, they come off PUP, and begin regular practice. Once taken off the PUP list the player cannot be placed back on.
When training camp ends the team has to decide whether to place a player on active/PUP, to reserve/PUP, or the 53-man active/inactive roster before the NFL’s second cut-down date (September 5th).
Anyone put on reserve/PUP will miss at least the first six weeks of the season and they do not use up a spot on the 53-man active roster. A team needs to be sure the injury requires the additional six weeks recovery, since they are now without the player for that time.
A 21-day window is given to allow the player on reserve/PUP to practice between the end of week six (October 20th), and before the conclusion of week eleven (November 24). Once activated to practice the player can be placed on the 53-man active roster at any point during the 21-day window period. If the window runs out or the player is not permitted to practice by the end of week 11, he’ll stay on PUP for the remainder of the season. While on reserve/PUP players receive their salary and count on the salary cap.
The Physically Unable to Perform list provides flexibility, allowing an injured player to return during the season, while not using a spot on the important 53-man roster. Teams also save their: Injured reserve – designated for return. This one-time designation provides an opportunity for a player to be placed on injured reserve, having them return later in the season, which is extremely valuable, since players placed on injured reserve are usually out for the season.
The non-football injury or illness list (NFI) works very similarly to PUP the difference being that the player fails his physical from a non-football injury. Even if the player fails due to an injury occurring during the player’s college career, it’s still considered a non-football injury. Team’s require players to complete a conditioning test at the beginning of training camp and if they fail the player will be put on NFI until they can pass.
Players placed on active/NFI at the beginning of camp can be removed once they are deemed ready to practice. If they go passed cut-down days the player will be put on reserve/NFI, the same rules apply as PUP, the player doesn’t count on the 53-man roster but misses at least six weeks of the season.
A player on reserve/PUP is entitled to salary compensation, while players on reserve/NFI are not, according to the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article 20, Section 3 – [a]). This does not mean teams don’t pay players on NFI, but they don’t have to under NFL salary rules. Usually players on reserve/NFI get their full salary or a split payment, less money per-week, while they are on that list. Any salary paid to a player on reserve/NFI counts on the team’s salary cap.
The fireworks accident suffered by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has brought the non-football injury list into the mainstream. If Pierre-Paul signs his franchise contract tender with the Giants they could put him on NFI during camp. Depending upon the severity of his injury the Giants are not obligated to pay him for any games missed due to his non-football injury, but can if they choose to do so.
Training camp is about to start up and there will be a number of players heading to active/PUP, or active/NFI but most will be removed fairly quickly. Jets running back Stevan Ridley (ACL) and cornerback Dee Milliner (Achilles) will likely start camp on active/PUP but hopefully can avoid missing time into the season by not ending up on reserve/PUP.