Practice squad changes will make roster cuts more interesting this year

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We’re two days away from the frenzy of moves that will trim all rosters from a maximum of 80 down to 53. (We’ll have you covered every step of the way, by the way.) This year, there’s a new dynamic that needs to be factored into the process.

Of the 16-person practice squad, up to six of the spots may go to players with unlimited NFL experience. Thus, a veteran (who doesn’t have to go through waivers) can be offered a spot on the practice squad.

There are new limitations, however. Before 2020, teams could pay practice-squad players an unlimited amount. Now, veterans are limited to $12,000 per week — which works out to only $204,000 per year. That said, up to two practice-squad players can be called up to the 53-man roster each week; those players would get a game check in the amount of the minimum salary based on their years of experience.

Whether a veteran will be inclined to accept a spot on the practice squad becomes one of the very real factors that teams will take into account when reducing the roster to 53. Do they believe that a veteran player who won’t be a starter would take less to join the practice squad, in lieu of moving to a new city as the regular season starts? If so, that veteran’s salary as a member of the 53-man roster may become something lower than that if/when the veteran is released and then re-signed to the practice squad.

Keep an eye on this possibility as the cuts happen. Some of those older players who get released may end up going nowhere, given those six spots that can be used for veterans who will be in position to be bumped up to the 53-man roster in the event of injuries or COVID-19 outbreaks.