Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll wants to see the NFL eliminate the practice of having teams make seven players inactive for games every week.
As the rules currently stand, active rosters in the NFL consist of 53 players that are eligible to play in games. However, 90 minutes before every game the teams must declare seven players inactive for the game. Therefore the list of players that can actually play consists of just 46 players.
Carroll wants to see the rules changed so all 53 players can dress for games.
“Why do we have a limited number of guys dressing every week?” Carroll said Wednesday. “These guys are fantastic players that work their tail off. Why can’t we have 53 guys dress and get them all out there? Everybody could do that, We’re paying them. They’re practicing and they’re ready. If for nothing else, to help other guys stay healthy longer. Get more rotation so that guys can stay healthy and contribute. I wish they could.”
The reasoning behind inactives for games is due to competitive balance. If one team has all 53 players healthy and their opponent has only 49 players healthy enough to play, the team with fewer healthy players will be at a disadvantage. With teams having to make seven players inactive, healthy or not, teams will have the same amount of players eligible to play in the game.
Carroll said he intends to address the matter with the league formally this offseason along with general manager John Schneider.
Seattle had 2013 second round running back Christine Michael, 2014 second round receiver Paul Richardson and 2014 fourth round receiver Kevin Norwood all inactive for last week’s game against Dallas despite all being healthy. Positional needs elsewhere led to Seattle needing other players active instead. Carroll laments having to watch healthy players not be able to contribute.
“Those are three great guys and there are a couple other guys who are ready to play football for us right now,” Carroll said. “They would be in games, they’d be getting the chance to catch the ball, cover kick, carry the football, but because of the restrictions of the numbers we can’t do that.
“These guys are capable and ready and hungry to play and they’re missing out in part of their career because of it.”
Carroll said he’d like to see a scenario where practice squad players could temporarily replace injured players on the 53-man roster to make sure the numbers are even for both sides. However, this brings salary questions in to play as well. While players inactive on game day still get their weekly salaries, practice squad players make significantly less. Would they get paid full salary for the weeks they would be bumped into active roster duty? Would it be splitting the difference somehow?
It would be a new system that would have to be worked out between the league and players union.
On one hand, it makes sense. Teams pay 53 players on their active roster every week. They should all play.
On the other hand. It’s not that simple and will likely have to take significant reworking of roster mechanics for that possibility to become reality.