Today’s a slow day, and I can’t think of anything else to talk about, so I thought I’d touch on the NFL’s practice squad rules.

Safety Sterling Moore started the season on Raiders practice squad but made arguably one of the biggest plays in the Patriots’ AFC Championship winning game in 2012. (ICON Sports)

For many late-round and undrafted free agents, the practice squad is going to be your best chance at hanging in there if you get cut in training camp, so I thought I’d talk about it a little.

I’ve written-and re-written this post to try to make it as simple as possible, but unfortunately, it’s tough to make something complicated look simple, so here goes nothing…

Eligibility Requirements to be Placed on Practice Squad


Each team’s practice squad consists of eight players, although they don’t have to have all eight practice squad spots filed.

They can actually have nine, if the ninth player is an “international player.”

To be eligible to be on a teams practice squad, you have to meet one of the following two criteria:


1. If you haven’t been on a practice squad for more than two seasons prior, you can be on a team’s practice squad if:

A. You’ve never accrued an Accrued Season of NFL experience, or

B. If you’re a free agent who was on the Active List for an NFL team for less than nine regular season games during your Accrued Season.

If you’re a free agent, to be eligible, you have to clear waivers first.  If you clear waivers, you can be placed on the practice squad for the team that waived you.

(note: an Accrued Season is counted if you’re on a team’s active or inactive list for six or more games during the season.)

2. You can be on a practice squad for a third year only if the team you’re with during that third season maintains at least 53 players on their Active/Inactive Lists (combined) during your time with the team.

(note: The “active list” is the game day roster of 45 players.  The Inactive list are players that are made inactive on game day so the team can get down to 46 players.)


Practice Squad Players are Basically Free Agents



Players on the practice squad can be signed to other teams in the league, as long as they sign them to their 53 player rosters.

A player signed from another team’s practice squad has to remain on their new team’s active roster for at least three weeks, including bye weeks, even if they release the player.

In other words, if a team signed you from another team’s practice squad, even if your new team released you after just one week, you count as a player on their active roster for two more weeks before they’d be able to use that spot on the active roster for another player.


If a team signs a player from another team’s practice squad, and the teams are about to play one another, there must be at least one week of time left between when they signed the player off the other team’s practice squad, and the date of the game.

They have to sign the player before 4PM Eastern time at least six days before the upcoming game.

If there’s a bye week coming up before the two teams play, the new team has to sign the player at least 10 days before the game, instead of six.




Players on the practice squad make at least $5,700 a week in the 2012 NFL season.

They can be paid more, if the team chooses to pay them more than that.

The money teams use to pay practice squad players counts against their salary cap.


Rules for Promoting a Player to the Active Roster from the Practice Squad


If a team promotes a player to the active roster from their practice squad, they have to keep the player on the active roster for at least three weeks, and they have to pay him the minimum rookie or veteran salary.

If they release you anytime before three weeks have passed, the player is to still get compensated for the remaining two or three weeks.

Make sense?

Oh, and check out this feature on Sterling Moore.  This guy started out on the practice squad of the Raiders, got released multiple times, and ended up making a huge play in the AFC Championship game against the Ravens.

Might be a little inspiration for you guys that start out your careers in the NFL on the practice squad.

>>Related: NFL Rookie Advice – Three Tips to Sticking Around and Earning Some Practice Squad Salary

>>Related:  The Art of Studying Current NFL Rosters – And Why It’s Crucial to an Undrafted Free Agent’s Success


Questions?  Concerns?  Comments?  Leave a comment below.

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