Seahawks: Graham, Rawls headed to PUP, but it’s not what you think


Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks are headed to the PUP list at the start of training camp, but it isn’t the big deal people think it is.

As reported by, well… everyone, both Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls won’t be ready for first day of training camp. While GM John Schneider says that a “decision hasn’t been made” on them being placed on the PUP list, I can tell you that both will be placed on the PUP list.

That isn’t inside information, just the experience of having seen this happen too many times to count. If they aren’t ready to practice, the PUP will be initial destination.

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Let’s get this part out of the way. PUP stands for “physically unable to perform.” While that might sound like part of a Viagra commercial, it isn’t. That’s NFL code for “still dealing with injury from last season.”

That is simply the way this works. Players must be on the PUP prior to the first practice of training camp or they cannot be placed on it. If players can’t practice on day 1, they start on the PUP.

Wait, the PUP? Doesn’t that mean they’d have to miss games?

Nope.  Not at all, but the confusion here is understandable.

There are actually 2 different PUP lists. There’s the training camp PUP list, and the regular season PUP list. The regular season list requires missed games. The training camp list does not.

When we talk about Rawls and Graham starting camp on the PUP list, we’re taking about the training camp version. A player can be taken off that list at any time.

In fact, most players on the training camp PUP list are only on there for a day or two. I’ve even seen a player placed on the list the night before training camp opened, and then they were taken off it in time for participate in the team’s first practice.

So why do it? Why bother placing them on the PUP at all if they’re going to be ready for Week 1?

Really, there are two reasons. First, placing a player on the PUP opens up a roster spot. If it take Rawls a couple of days before the doctors are confident he’s ready, then placing him on the PUP allows the Seahawks to give a player a 48-hour tryout. The more players they can get a look at during camp, the better.

The other one has to do with the requirement of being on the training-camp PUP in order to be on the in-season PUP. That’s a piece of info that pushes teams to put everyone not easy for day 1 of camp onto the PUP list.

Consider the worse-case scenario, and Rawls goes out there and rolls his surgically repaired ankle while working his way back into shape. In that case, Rawls would be able to stay on the PUP and get six weeks of the regular season for his ankle to heal.

If he hadn’t been placed on the PUP prior to the start of camp, the Seahawks would be forced to choose to keep him on the roster and use up a roster spot, or place him on injured reserve and end his season.

The training camp PUP then becomes a safety blanket. It stops a terrible situation from becoming much worse because of the NFL’s roster rules.

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So while both Graham and Rawls are headed to the PUP list, it isn’t a big deal. Both are still expected to be ready for Week 1.