The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the process of trimming their roster from 75 to 53, and throughout the process you will hear many people talk about 'practice squad eligible' players who were recently cut from the team. Seems to be the perfect time to have a quick refresher on the rules and stipulations which must surround a player who could be signed to the practice squad once they've cleared waivers after being released.
How many players on the practice squad?
10 - It was previously 8, but in 2014 the NFL changed it to 10 for the next two seasons. They will need to reach a subsequent agreement to keep these new rules in place.How is a player eligible for the practice squad?
In order to be eligible for the practice squad, players must meet one of the following requirements:
- Have no prior Accrued Seasons in the NFL (An accrued season is six or more games on the active roster);
- Have one prior Accrued Season in which the player was on the 45-man active roster for no more than 8 games;
- Each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of 2 Practice Squad players who have earned no more than 2 accrued seasons of free agency credit;
- If served two seasons on a practice squad, are eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player's employment.
- A player has served one season on the practice squad if he is on the practice squad for at least 6 games. The rule previously required 3 games on the practice squad roster.
Players on the practice squad can earn a minimum of $6,300 per week in 2014. Teams are allowed to pay a player a higher salary than the minimum, and this often happens if another team comes sniffing around a player. All practice squad salaries are counted under the team's salary cap.
While on a practice squad, a player is paid by that particular team. However, the player has the right to sign with another team's 53-man roster. The one exception to this is that the player may not sign a contract with his team's next opponent after 1 p.m. PT six days preceding the game (10 days preceding in bye weeks). A player cannot sign a practice squad contract with one team and then leave to sign a practice squad contract with another team, unless the first team has released said player.
If a player signs with another team's 53-man roster, or is promoted to his own team's 53-man roster, the player must be paid for at least 3 weeks of at least league minimum salary. They can be released before the 3 weeks is up, but they still have to be paid.
There is one exception to this called the Contagious Disease Addendum, which was first added in June 2010 in a side letter agreement to the last CBA. This states that if a player is promoted from the practice squad for a game because a club was given a roster exemption due to confirmed or suspected cases of contagious disease among its players, the player remains on his practice squad contract, but will be paid 1/17 of the league minimum salary. After the game he will be returned to the practice squad without having to clear waivers.