The NFL Owners met this week to talk about some possible rules changes, and approved two major proposals - moving the trade deadline back two weeks and creating an Injured Reserve exemption rule that gives teams one spot for a 'marquee player' that can return in the same season he is placed on IR.
Pending approval and agreement from the Management Council and the NFL Players Association, the NFL Trade Deadline will move from Week Six to Week Eight, giving teams two extra weeks to assess their injury and competitive situations and make moves based on all the accompanying factors. This change makes a lot of sense, as injuries are a part of the game, but comes early enough in the season to maintain the competitive balance. Teams that lose major players at certain positions now have an extra couple of weeks to address their deficiencies mid-season.
As for the Injured Reserve exemption, teams will now have the option of placing one injured player on what becomes, essentially, an 8-week Disabled List, similar to the 60-day DL in baseball. If said player is on the team's 53-man roster to start the year, then subsequently suffers a major injury - but one that can be returned from in several months - they no longer face a lost season.
Teams would likely save this option until absolutely necessary, as it could only apply to one player. If a 'marquee' player goes down with an injury that would sideline them for a month or more, instead of taking up a valuable roster spot for that amount of time while that player rehabs, teams can instead elect to use their IR exemption. Said player could rejoin the team after six weeks to practice, then return to the field after eight weeks from being placed on the DL (so to speak).
Again, these rules will need to be approved and agreed upon by the players union, but as they do seem to be player-friendly, opposition is doubtful, in my opinion. We'll find out.