By John Boyle
The NFL announced Tuesday that practice squads will increase from eight to 10 players beginning this year. That’s good news for 64 NFL hopefuls who otherwise would have been out of work after roster cuts were made on Aug. 30.
The new rules also expand eligibility for players in a couple of ways. For starters, a player who spends fewer than six games on a practice squad does not lose a year of practice squad eligibility, up from three games before. And a big change is that now two players on the practice squad can be eligible with two accrued seasons. That means two players on each team’s practice squad could theoretically have spent two full seasons on a team’s active roster.
While these rules apply to every team, it ought to benefit a team like Seattle, which has shown a knack for developing players on its practice squad and turning them into productive players, one notable example being Jermaine Kearse.
Below is the full release from the NFL:
NFL PRACTICE SQUADS EXPAND TO 10 PLAYERS
The NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to expand NFL Practice Squads for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Absent an extension of the agreement, the current rules will be reinstated beginning with the 2016 season.
Under the agreement, 2014 and 2015 Practice Squads will increase from the current maximum of eight players to 10 players.
In addition, the criteria for Practice Squad eligibility has been expanded in two respects.
First, a player must have a minimum of six games – up from the current three games – on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’s three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service.
Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.
All other practice squad rules under Article 33 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in effect during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.