Earlier in the week, I addressed the fact that the league hadn’t yet clarified Michael Vick’s status as per the 53-man roster during the announcement of the quarterback’s conditional reinstatement, but that a memo on the issue was forthcoming. Well, today, every team received that memo, and here is the crux of it, according to league sources.
We already knew that Vick would count against the 80-man camp roster if signed before his full reinstatement by commissioner Roger Goodell. We also knew that Vick could participate in practices and the final two preseason games if signed by then. Goodell could reinstate Vick within the first six weeks of the regular season, perhaps as soon as Week 1. If he isn’t fully reinstated by Week 1, however, a team that had signed Vick would have two options:
1. If Vick’s team elects to make him available to practice, then he would count against the 53-man roster, according to the memo. Once that decision is made, it is final, and a team couldn’t then subsequently withhold Vick from practice or receive any exemption.
2. If Vick’s team opts to have him not practice, then he would not count against the 53-man roster but instead would be on an “exempt list.” That would make him ineligible to practice, but he could watch film, attend practice, participate in meetings, do weight training and and put in individual work. But, again, he couldn’t take part in the actual practice itself.
If Vick’s team opts to make him ineligible, at the time he becomes eligible to participate in regular-season games, the team would receive an “applicable roster exemption.” That means that leading up to Vick’s first regular-season game, the team would have a buffer of some period of time — not yet distinguished — by which to determine when to make him active and thus count against the 53-man roster (which would prompt a roster move with another player). Those exemptions also are in place when a player comes back from suspension. For instance (and Vick no longer is a suspended player — let’s make that clear), the team generally has a week or two to make such a decision. Again, this memo doesn’t stipulate an exact time frame in this instance, according to those who have read it.
Furthermore, during the regular-season and preseason games in which Vick is ineligible to play, he cannot be on the sidelines, but he can watch the game from a coaching box or club box, etc.
So there you have it.