Why not remove eligibility limits for the practice squad?


The NFL made some news last week by expanding practice squads from eight to 10 players for the next two years, and by enacting rules making it easier for players to retain practice-squad eligibility for a longer period of time.

Which opens the door for a broader question:  Why not get rid of all restrictions and limits on the practice squad?

Currently, the league and union have crafted the practice squad to provide young, inexperienced players an up-or-out opportunity to get practice reps and to earn not quite NFL wages but still a good living — currently $6,300 per week.  So why create artificial rules that would limit the ability of a player to remain on the practice squad?

Ultimately, the practice squad gives a team extra bodies for the purposes of helping the team remain ready during the grind of the regular season, with a maximum of now 63 players available to each team.  Why must the extra 10 players have only a handful of regular-season game appearances and/or one or two years of accrued service?

For many teams, having a few veterans in the locker room who may not be good enough to actually play but who have real value on the practice field helps both the team and the player, to the tune of $6,300 per week.  It makes plenty of sense for the teams and the players, and thus the NFL and the NFLPA, to allow anyone and everyone, regardless of accrued years or number of game appearances, to join a practice squad.

As to the majority of former players who want to still be current players, it’s a great way to remain ready to play.  It also pays a lot better ($107,100 per regular season) than plenty of the employment opportunities available to men for whom employment is no longer available on a 53-man roster.

18 responses to “Why not remove eligibility limits for the practice squad?

  1. Here’s another one -why is it that 53 players are allowed on the roster, but only 45 can dress on gameday? Wouldn’t it be better to dress 8 more players so that some key players don’t have to play, and possibly get hurt, on special teams?

  2. the league knows if they do this, they have just created a new class of litigants; and long term practice squad duty would inevitably lead to a need for pensions and health coverage. So, absent a major benefit from making a change, it is in the owners’ best interests to keep things as they are.

  3. Agreed, the logical answer as to why it hasn’t happened is because Billionaires are cheap.

  4. You could also raise the. question about why there are roster limits sin e the intention of the limits was to keep teams from hoarding talent.

  5. If veterans were practice squad eligible, teams would pick them up for one week to get the inside on another team and then drop them. It would become less about developing players and just trying to get and edge.

  6. For the same reason as IR rules. The league doesn’t want teams stashing players. Yes, you can sign players off other team’s practice squads, but you have to put them on the 53 man roster. Which is why it doesn’t happen that often.

  7. The real problem is the NFLPA doesn’t think about the needs of practice squad players. Not only should they open it up as the article suggests, they should also, make them eligible for the pension plan.

  8. I don’t think they should have roster limits period. They have minimum salaries and they have a salary cap. How many you can fit under that number, should be up to the team.

  9. “If that were the case, then they might as well just enlarge the roster for 63 spots.

    The practice squad is used for development of young players.”

    Not really, the way it is now any team can sign a player off of any other teams practice squad without any compensation. You could never put a true prospect on there until that changes becuase one of the other teams can raid your PS any time they want.

  10. I can see why there are restrictions on the practice squad. But like somebody else said above, the restriction keeping teams from suiting up everybody on the 53-man roster makes zero sense.

  11. Should they consider adding “student athletes” who no longer want to play for free on the practice squad? They’d need some new policies on draft eligibility, but at least they’d get paid and get some NFL experience at the same time.

  12. The practice squad is to develop young talent to eventually see the field. If you are a veteran with X experience, its not likely you will ever reach Y potential. And that potential to make Z dollars is the reason they have practice squads. If they had, perhaps, a developmental league, then they could probably do away with limits, because they would have a place for young talent to develop.

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