Clarifying the rules on injured reserve and injury settlements

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers waive/injured two players on Tuesday. We break down how injury settlements could work for them.

The San Francisco 49ers waive/injured Lawrence Okoye and Lamar Divens on Tuesday. Both players cleared waivers, which means they reverted back to the 49ers injured reserve list. Since then, there has been some discussion about a potential injury settlement. There has been confusion about how injury settlements, so I did a little research.

I spoke with the NFLPA to get some insight, and I also came across this excellent article at Over the Cap. He uses Darcel McBath's situation as an example.

The injury settlement is a negotiation of weeks of salary. The team and player might agree that the injury would keep him out for three weeks or five weeks or two weeks. They pay a prorated portion of his injured reserve salary based on that weeks total. Given that the team would otherwise be carrying the entire salary on the cap, these settlements can be incredibly valuable.

One other reason the 49ers would agree to an injury settlement is because they believe the injury is not a season-ending injury, and they want to get that player on the roster in some form or fashion. For a guy like Lawrence Okoye, that would mean getting him on the practice squad to continue developing his craft.

Technically a team can come to a settlement with a player at any point. However, if the team wants to return the player to their roster that season, a settlement must be completed within five business days. Once the settlement is agreed upon, the player has to wait six games after the settlement period ends. For example, if Okoye agreed to a three-game injury settlement, he would have to wait until after the team's game with the Panthers to re-sign. That covers six games, and the bye week.

According to Jason from Over the Cap, once a settlement is reached, the player is again waived, this time with the knowledge that he agreed to a settlement. Once the player clears waivers, he can sign with any team, as he would be a free agent. However, in the case of Lawrence Okoye, it would seem the odds would be high he would stick in San Francisco.

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