With the 2018 campaign nearly in the books, NFL clubs are making their final decisions on players to return (or not return) from injured reserve. Each team is allowed to bring two players back from IR, but said players must have been retained on their respective club’s initial 53-man roster. Once an IR player returns to practice, his club will have three weeks to decide whether to activate him to their 53-man roster; if he’s not activated, the player will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Here’s the latest on IR/return players:
- The Panthers have opted not to activate safety Da’Norris Searcy from injured reserve, tweets veteran reporter Howard Balzer. Searcy was designated to return three weeks ago, but once that 21-day window expired without him having been placed on Carolina’s 53-man roster, Searcy was done for the year. It’s entirely possible the Panthers would have activated Searcy if they were anywhere near playoff contention, but most postseason models give Carolina less than a one percent chance of securing a playoff berth, so the club probably didn’t feel the need to risk Searcy’s health. It’s doing the same thing with quarterback Cam Newton, shutting down the veteran signal-caller with two games to go. Searcy inked a two-year deal with the Panthers this offseason, but Carolina would incur just $650K in dead cap by cutting him.
- The Cowboys have designated cornerback C.J. Goodwin to return from injured reserve, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). If he is activated, Goodwin isn’t likely to play a major role on a Dallas defense that ranks as a top-10 unit in DVOA. The Cowboys already have three locked-in nickel package starters in Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown, but Goodwin could offer depth and play on special teams, joining fellow reserve defensive back Jourdan Lewis in that regard. Goodwin has only played 188 total defensive snaps over his four-year pro career, but he’s never posted a season in which he played fewer than 45% of his club’s special teams snaps.
- The Jaguars have designated linebacker Donald Payne to return from injured reserve, per Balzer (Twitter link). Payne is a pure special-teamer (he’s played just three defensive snaps since joining Jacksonville in 2017), as the Jaguars deploy Telvin Smith and Myles Jack as their starting linebackers. On the year, the Jaguars rank third in special teams DVOA, per Football Outsiders.