Although the 53-man roster is the most critical piece of the personnel puzzle for NFL teams, the ten-man practice squad is also crucial to the development of young players and teams’ abilities to overcome injuries. With practice squads set to start filling up on Sunday afternoon, here are some overall rules and primers to go over regarding those units and how they are constructed.
Generally, these are the rules for a player’s eligibility on practice squads:
- Player has served no more than three seasons on a practice squad in the past (a season is defined as six games or more in a single year)
- Player has not completed an accrued season on an NFL roster (again, an accrued season is six games on the roster or on injured reserve) OR player has one or more accrued seasons but was on the active gameday roster for fewer than nine games in each of those years
- “Veteran Exemption”: The NFL introduced “veteran” exemptions in recent years. This exemption allows teams to place up to four players who do not meet the above criteria on their practice squads if they have two or fewer accrued seasons. This essentially circumvents the second rule above for those four spots.
The exemption has opened up practice squad eligibility to a lot more players than in the past. Furthermore, it means that nearly every player released by the Packers on Saturday has practice squad eligibility remaining. The only players cut who are not eligible are guard Josh Sitton (eight seasons) and linebacker Sam Barrington (three). By our count, no released players would potentially fall into the two-year “veteran” category either; linebacker Carl Bradford spent the entire 2014 season on the 53-man roster but was not on the active gameday roster at any point that season.
It is also critical to remember that only players who have cleared waivers and are free agents may be placed on the practice squad. Also, teams may sign a player from another team’s practice squad onto their active roster at any time. Finally, teams may elect to pay practice squad players salaries equivalent to the league minimum in order to sway them to stay with the organization rather than leave for another team.
The Packers reportedly informed a few players on cut-down Saturday that they would like to bring them back aboard on the practice squad if they clear waivers. Two such names are wide receiver Geronimo Allison and defensive lineman Brian Price.
Stay tuned this afternoon for more updates on the Packers’ practice squad signings. The deadline to put in waiver claims is 12 noon Eastern time, and teams may begin to sign players to the practice squads one hour later, starting at 1 PM ET.