As NFL teams prepare to cut down their rosters, an important element for NFL GMs is intelligent use of the 8-man practice squad. Eligibility rules for practice squads can be pretty confusing, so here is something to help. In plain English, here is an explanation of (eligibility and signing) NFL practice squad rules.
NFL PRACTICE SQUAD RULES:
A player earns an Accrued Season if he is on the team’s 53-man roster, Injured Reserve (IR), or Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) for 6 or more games in any one season. Players on practice squad or PUP / non-football related injury list do not accrue an NFL season.
a) If a player has been on a team’s practice squad for three regular season or playoff games during their first or second year on the practice squad, that counts as a season on the Practice Squad.
b) If a player has been on a team’s practice squad for one regular season or playoff game during their third year on the practice squad, that counts as a season on the Practice Squad.
c) a bye week counts as a week on the practice squad as long as the player remains on the practice squad for the entire bye weekend.
Players can be on the practice squad a maximum of three years, but certain conditions must apply to allow a third year.
Eligibility for players in their first or second year in the NFL:
Players who do not have an accrued season in the NFL (in other words, rookies are automatically eligible).
Players with one year NFL experience who were active for less that nine regular season games.
Eligibility for players in their third year in the NFL:
They have to meet the requirements above, plus, their team has to have at least 53 players on it’s roster for the entire time he is on the practice squad. (I imagine this means if a team releases a player during the week and decided not to replace him on the roster, any 3rd year practice squad players would no longer be eligible.)
Signing with other clubs: