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NFL may expand practice squads to 16 players for more flexibility due to COVID-19

The league is considering making these squads even bigger than the current 12-man limit, which is already more slots than were allowed in 2019.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA involved the number of players allowed on each team’s practice squad. That number has been steadily growing over the past few years, and with the new CBA the number increased from 10 to 12 starting in 2020.

However, with questions and concerns raging about the upcoming 2020 season — namely what to do if players test positive for COVID-19 — the league is considering expanding these squads even further. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the NFL’s conversations include going as high as 16 practice squad members per team this year.

Green Bay currently has several players on its 90-man roster who were practice squad players last year. In addition, many members of last year’s 53-man roster, including several key contributors, spent time on the squad at some point in their careers. Wide receiver Allen Lazard famously started the regular season there before being promoted in advance of the Packers’ week one game, while reserve offensive lineman Lucas Patrick spent his rookie season in 2016 there before earning a 53-man roster spot in 2017.

Any changes to the squad limits would need to be approved by both the league and the players union. However, this would open up more jobs for more players, which would likely be a positive from the union’s perspective. The teams would in turn benefit from the ability to have a wider pool of players both for in-season practices and to help the organization depth in case a player or players test positive for the coronavirus. At first glance, there seems to be no significant downside to this from either side, making it more likely than not to take place.