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PUP List vs. NFI List: What’s The Difference?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Before the first practice of Training Camp for 2016, the Minnesota Vikings made use of two different roster lists. They placed guard Mike Harris and quarterback Taylor Heinicke on the Non-Football Injury List, while placing tight end Rhett Ellison and defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis on the Physically Unable to Perform List.

A lot of people have probably heard of the PUP List, but the NFI list is one that’s used a bit more infrequently. Let’s break down the differences between the two.

Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List

The PUP List gives players who are unable to start Training Camp the ability to sit out until the team’s medical staff gives them the clearance to being practicing. This is generally done for players that had suffered an injury during the prior season that they’re still rehabbing from, such as Rhett Ellison with his patellar tendon issue. Any player placed on the PUP List is eligible to begin practicing again as soon as they’re given clearance.

Once a player practices during Training Camp, they are no longer eligible for the PUP List. If a player is taken off of the PUP List, they can’t be placed back on it. They would then have to go on Injured Reserve. During their time on the PUP List, players can go through conditioning drills and things of that nature, but they can’t practice with the team.

During the preseason, the PUP List is referred to as the Active/PUP List. If a player is still on the PUP List at the end of Training Camp, the team has the option to move him to the Reserve/PUP List. If a player is placed on the Reserve/PUP List, they must sit out the first six weeks of the regular season. When those six weeks are up, the team has three weeks to decide whether or not the player can begin practicing with the team. If the player does start practicing with the team, they then have three weeks from the date of their first practice to decide whether or not they want to add him to the 53-man roster. If they don’t do so, the player will revert to injured reserve and will be out for the rest of the season.

Non-Football Injury (NFI) List

As you can probably gather from the name, the NFI List is for injuries that happen outside of football, to include both the game field and the practice field. Obviously, Heinicke’s injury happened away from the field, and whatever issue Harris has (it’s currently being talked about as an illness) happened away from the field as well, which is why they’re on this list and not the PUP List.

One of the major distinctions that makes this list different from the PUP List is that a team can choose to not pay a player on the NFI List their base salary. The logic behind that is since the injury occurred outside of the context of football, the team shouldn’t be liable for providing compensation as a result. However, teams generally work out compensation deals with players on the NFI List.

Outside of that particular distinction, the NFI List is pretty similar to the PUP List. A player has to be placed on it prior to taking part in any practices, and if they remain on the list into the regular season, they have to miss the first six weeks. The rest of the NFI timeline is the same as the PUP timeline in terms of players practicing with the team and/or being moved to the 53-man roster.

Those are the two lists that the Minnesota Vikings have taken advantage of for roster moves on the first day of Training Camp. Hopefully all of those guys can get themselves right and be ready to go sooner rather than later.