The NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to continue having 10-man practice squads for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, according to Mark Dominik of ESPN (on Twitter). One notable change has been made, however. Previously, teams were allowed to sign a maximum of two players who have up to two accrued seasons of NFL experience while the other eight players had to fall within a limited range of 53-man roster time. Now, teams can have up to four players with two accrued NFL seasons.
At the end of August, the claiming period for players waived during final roster cutdowns will conclude, and, at that point, teams are free to start signing players to their practice squads. While practice squad players aren’t eligible to play in regular season games, they practice with their team’s active players during the week, and receive a weekly salary. For the 2016 season, the minimum weekly salary for practice squad players is $6,900, though teams are permitted to offer more than that in an attempt to entice players to sign to their squad rather than join another club. In 2017, that number will jump to $7,200 per week.
Of course, practice squad players are under contract, but the fact that they’re not on an active roster means they’re free to sign with another NFL team if the opportunity arises. That new team must add the player to its 53-man active roster, however. The practice squad system allows teams to keep a group of players in reserve in the event of an injury and provides young players an opportunity to develop their skills and make an impression on team personnel. Thanks to this week’s win-win agreement between the league and the players’ union, the 10-man practice squad structure will remain in place for at least the next two years.