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Could San Diego Chargers DT Kwame Geathers return this season?

Explaining the situation regarding San Diego Chargers DT Kwame Geathers after he was injured in a preseason game and put on Injured-Reserve by the team.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the news yesterday was that Kwame Geathers wasn't as badly hurt as the San Diego Chargers had feared, many fans immediately assumed that the second-year Nose Tackle would be the Injured-Reserve player that is "designated for return" by the team and able to return about halfway through the season if the recovery process goes well.

Not Happening

There's only one problem with the above plan: Kwame Geathers is not eligible to be the team's "IR-designated for return" player. That player needs to be on the team's final 53-man roster when put on IR. Since Geathers is already on IR, he is not eligible to be on the team's final 53-man roster.

So, is he gone for the year?

Well, yes, unless he and the team come to an agreement on an "injury settlement". Then things get a bit trickier.

In an injury settlement, the team agree to pay the player their normal salary for a certain number of games. So, for instance, they may agree to pay for six games worth of salary for someone like Geathers, and Kwame may find that to be an acceptable proposition.

If this hypothetical agreement were signed by both parties, Geathers would not be able to return to the Chargers until Week 13 (six weeks after his injury settlement expires). He would, however, be able to sign with any other NFL team and start playing games for them in Week 7 (as soon as the injury settlement expires).

I'm not sure why Geathers would wait an extra six weeks, unpaid, to play for the Chargers rather than accept an offer from another NFL team. Tom Telesco likely doesn't see that happening either. If it does, all that means is that San Diego is the only NFL team that wants Geathers, at which point.... why bother?

Most-Likely Scenario

The Chargers obviously like Geathers and have a lot invested in him at this point. What makes the most sense is for them to leave him on IR for the rest of this year and start fresh with him being 100% healthy next year. That way they don't risk losing him and still have him signed to an insanely-affordable deal for next season.