The Washington Football Team has officially trimmed their roster down to 53 players, but the work isn’t over for coaches and personnel executives. Washington is 2nd on the waiver priority list thanks to their 3-13 record last season. That means they are only behind the Cincinnati Bengals, and can put in for as many players as they want who have less than 4 credited seasons and have been waived. The team also has a 16-man practice to fill. The team released 20+ players today, and a lot of them will be signed to the PS if they aren’t claimed. The rules have changed this year, and we’ve got the breakdown on all the changes here.
16 player squads
Practice squads were limited to 10 players last season, but that was set to change with the new CBA. The number was increased to 12 players for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and then was going to increased to 14 players in 2022. That all changed when the uncertainty of COVID-19 hit, and the league increased practice squads to 16 players for this season.
Practice squad players moving up to the main roster
Teams now have more flexibility with using practice squad players on game day. PS players can be activated on game day before the team announces their inactives (90 minutes before game time). The player doesn’t have to be elevated from the PS to the main roster for the move. This can happen with up to two practice squad players per week, but the same player can’t be elevated two weeks in a row. A player is only able to be elevated twice per season. To be put activated a third time requires the player to be signed to the regular roster.
This is a big change from previous years, and makes it easier for teams to have players they know and trust on game day, and also not have to subject them to waivers when they are signed to the main roster and cut to get back to the practice squad. If players test positive for COVID-19 during the season they will miss time, and this is an easy way to have other players available to replace them.
The NFL also added a new wrinkle to the practice squad that provides teams with some limited protections for keeping practice squad players. Teams can designate four players every week that are protected from being signed by other teams. This protection starts on Tuesday each week, so every practice squad player is still available to be signed to the regular roster of another team after their team’s game that week until the deadline on Tuesday.
Another change is the eligibility requirements for veteran players. Last year teams could have up to 4 players who had two years of NFL experience. This year teams can have 6 veterans with no limit on the amount of accrued seasons they have in the league.
Practice squad players make $8,400 per week or $142,800 for 17 weeks. Veteran players with over two years of experience will make $12,000 per week or $204,000 for 17 weeks.
Signing with the practice squad
Teams completed their roster cuts today at 4pm, meaning that over 700 players just became available. Teams have until Sunday at noon to claim players that have been released. At 1 pm teams will begin forming their 16-man practice squad. Any available player can then be signed by teams.