How The New Promoting From The Practice Squad Rules Work.

NFL teams still have a 53-man roster.  It is not a de facto 55-man roster despite the new rule that gives teams the ability to promote up to two players from the practice squad for each game.  Since the rule is new, it remains to be seen how it will be used and how well each team utilizes the rule.  I do not expect teams to routinely promote two practice squad players for every game.  There probably will not be any "super practice player(s)" on any NFL team.

The game-day active player list has been increased from 46 to 47 players.  If a team lists as active eight players whose primary positions are tackle, guard, or center, the limit is further increased to 48 active players on game days.  None of the eight offensive linemen have to be practice squad players who were promoted to Active/Inactive List for any particular game.  Teams must list at least 44 players as active for each game.

Teams may promote zero, one, or two practice squad players for each game whether it has seven or eight (or more) offensive linemen listed as active for the game in question.  Having eight offensive linemen only affects how many players can be listed as game-day active and has no effect on the ability to promote players from the practice squad to the Active/Inactive list.  That means the Active/Inactive list could total 53, 54 or 55 players.

A team has to send the paperwork regarding promotions to the NFL no earlier in the week than the last day the NFL office is open to process the paperwork prior to the game.  For Thursday Night games, that sounds like on Thursday by 4:00 PM EST.  For a Sunday game, it sounds like on Saturday, no late than 4:00 PM (EST).  Note that promotions will happen before teams are required to submit their active roster list.  Promoted practice squad players automatically revert to the practice squad on the next business day after the game at 4:00 PM (EST). 

Teams can have up to twelve practice squad players and that number increases to fourteen in 2022.  The minimum weekly practice squad salary is $8,400 for most players, and $1,200 for the up to two players who are allowed to have an unlimited number of accrued seasons (but those two much have more than two accrued seasons).

Players who are promoted earn 1/17th of their respective minimum NFL salary.  That dollar amount will vary depending on whether the player has zero, one, two or 10 credited seasons.  For 2020, two practice squad players may have an unlimited number of accrued seasons.  For a player eligible for the NFL minimum of $610,000 on an annualized basis, that translates to $35,882 for that specific game instead of $8,400.  It translates to $61,765 for a player who has hung around for a long time (7 or more credited seasons) instead of $12,000 for that veteran player. 

Given that disparity in pay, it seems unlikely that a team would promote a practice squad player unless it intended (or had reason to think it might have) to make him active for that game.  It hardly matters whether a team has five inactive players or seven.  If the Packers elected to promote two players for each regular season game, it would cost an extra $880,000 against the cap at a minimum: it could be moderately more if the PS players selected had multiple credited seasons.

Players who are injured in practice (if they have already been promoted) or are injured during the game itself continue to earn their NFL minimum salary as provided for in their contract while on IR.  Most of these players will have split contracts which have minimum salaries based on credited seasons.  For 2020, the minimum is $400,000.  If a practice squad player gets injured during practice but before he has been promoted, the player is eligible for the practice squad injured reserve and continues to be paid his $8,400 per week salary (or whatever amount his practice squad contracts schedules) until he can pass a physical.     

No practice squad player may be promoted more than twice over the course of the regular season plus any playoff games.  That means if the Packers promoted OT Nijman for game one and two, while he could return to the practice squad, he could not be promoted again from the practice squad for games 3 through 16 or for any playoff games.  If the Packers wanted Nijman to play in a 3rd game in that league year, the team would have to sign him to the 53-man roster and cut or trade a player to make room for him. 

So, there will not be any super PS player who gets promoted for 16 games (or 19 in the best scenario) because it is against the rules.  In practice, if a practice squad player were to be promoted and played well in a couple of regular season games, when he automatically reverts to the practice squad, he is free to sign a contract for the 53-man roster with any team.

Given the above, I do not expect teams to promote practice squad players unless they have a specific reason to do so.  For example, if Kevin King looks like he is going to be a game-time decision for game 2, the team might promote Kabion Ento on Saturday to the Active/Inactive list.  If King cannot go, the Packers then might list Ento on the game active list.  Maybe he even plays some defensive snaps.

What if Ento plays very well against a quality NFL quarterback and some good receivers?  That is a good problem to have, of course, but it might force the Packers to make a decision on Ento (and by extension, on another player already on the 53-man roster) right away.  One can be sure that the directors of pro personnel around the league are going to look closely at such film, and Ento is free to sign with any club when he automatically reverts to the practice squad.  There is no right of first refusal. 

What if Ento is promoted for a second time, say for game 3 and again plays well?  First, he cannot be promoted again for the rest of the regular season or for any playoff games.  If the team wants to have him available to play in another game, it would have to sign him to the 53 and fend off any other interested teams.  Things get murkier if Ento's play is less than average, but good enough to possibly attract the attention of other teams.

The Head Coach/General Manager that promotes a practice squad player who comes in and plays well is going to look like a genius.  However, I expect teams to often forego promoting any practice squad players.  The team might even want to save at least one promotion of a particular player for the playoffs.  How often a team promotes practice squad players might turn out to be a function of the team's overall health.        

This season should be interesting.  It will be interesting to see how teams weigh the benefits of promoting players.  How would you like to be the player on the regular 53-man roster who ends up being a healthy scratch (placed on the game-day inactive list) in favor of a practice squad member?

 

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Comments (18)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm

I chose to use a photo of Kabion Ento for this article. For reasons I do not understand, photos of Ento and my second choice, Yosh Nijman, while wearing Packers jerseys were copy-writed despite CHTV's subscription.

It flitted across my mind to use a photo of Josiah Deguara at the top of this article without any comment just to see Coldworld's response (if he chose to dignify it with any). That seemed too base, though.

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Coldworld's picture

May 16, 2020 at 08:23 am

Lol. Fie on you TGR.

I point out that much of what I write about Deguara is on the context and rationale of his signing. I’m not a believer in a player till I’ve seen it happen. There is a difference between what they are hoping for and why he fits and actually being convinced all will be sunshine and roses when he hits the field. Same with HC LaFleur. As others have said, need him to take a step up this season too.

Interested by your choice of Ento and Nijman. It would be great if either merit a roster spot. Two outsiders with huge upside.

I did wonder if one use might be a third QB. Maybe not for GB, but these guys are more valuable to their team but rarely do 3 play. Could open a roster spot by allowing a late call up. In general, maybe what this does is enable teams to be less reluctant to promote when it’s a temporary doubt on the roster.

I see ST usage being a possibility, allowing the actual next man up to be relieved of ST snaps more than those on offense or defense? That addresses some of the advertisement for poaching risk you allude to perhaps?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 16, 2020 at 08:24 am

I know you have. I read your comments which say the jury is out on LaFleur and on all rookies, really.

I confess that the thought of putting Deguara's photo at the top amused me. I should probably encourage a poster from another site to comment on CHTV - we could use 600 comments in a single article from one person on CHTV! [Sorry, this is largely an inside joke, though some readers will get it.]

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 16, 2020 at 08:51 am

I chose Nijman mostly on hype from last year, combined with having 7 OL pretty firmly established (barring a trade or cap casualty) and then drafting 3 more OL.

I agree that STs alleviates concerns about poaching. I'd expect poaching to be an overblown concern, similar to fans worrying that some prospect if released won't make it to the PS. I've been guilty of that in the past (I loved Rolle for some reason). The promoted player who performs really well will likely be a rare occurrence, but much murkier situations where the player wasn't terrible are more likely. More likely still is that the promoted player doesn't get a chance to play at all.

Given the history of PS players eventually having decent careers in the NFL, I wonder whether using the PS differently might not occur, especially when it increases to 14. That seems like a lot of players. Might there be more back-up punters, kickers, LS, gunners, FBs or H-Backs stashed on the PS?

Finally, I think the NFL spoke loudly about the need for improved OL play.

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greengold's picture

May 16, 2020 at 09:29 am

Yeah, that whole emphasis on expanding game day rosters by one player if 8 game day actives are OL is a decent move. Certainly does show more emphasis on higher level OL play, or better, the need to protect franchise QBs.

I'm a huge Yosh fan, and I'm very curious to see how he is developing in this system. He could surprise some fans.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 15, 2020 at 09:02 pm

Thanks for the explanation. It’s timely and well written. Now, after having read that, I can sound smart as I explain it to my less well informed friends.

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optimisticfan's picture

May 15, 2020 at 09:44 pm

TGR,
Another great article. I think your logic makes sense about teams thinking twice about promoting PS players except for certain positions/situations. Like a player has a minor injury that may last 2 games at a crucial or thin position: QB, DL (if Clark or Keke is injured and GB only keeps 5 DL on 53), SS/ILB, RB? A PS backup for a few critical games would be worth $35, 882 a pop, but you are right not all season. Less likely to see CB, OL, OLB etc brought up?

These rules beg a few questions:

1) What would be the optimal number of players on the 53 at each position to have diverse depth (obviously last few players in are valued for ST too)?

Maybe:
QB= 2
RB = 4
TE/Hback = 4
WR = 6
OL = 9

DL= 5
OLB = 5
ILB = 4
S = 5 (with 3 SS/hybrid including Amos)
CB = 6

2) If Stepaniak = PUP, Madison = PS or cut, then which other OL doesn’t make it onto the 53? (Nijman, Leglue, Hanson, Patrick (trade), Taylor (trade)? Obviously depends on injuries in camp, but hope some other team is desperate after their camp to trade a 6-7th for Patrick (doubtful)

3) What severity of injury qualifies as enough to require IR once promoted rather than sent back to PS? That money differential is huge

4) If TEs = Sternberger, Lewis, Tonyan and move TE = Deguara, then does GB have 5 on the 53 to have another H-back? Or keep 4 use Sternberger in some Hback looks if Deguara goes down mid game and only elevate an Hback if Deguara is out for extended period of time? I think keeping the above 4 sounds better as Sternberger/Lewis or Sternberger/Tonyan keeps the defense guessing while the defense may not respect Jordan Jones or Elijah Wellman being in there for anything but run blocking.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 15, 2020 at 11:09 pm

I think most of your questions are applicable to roster decisions every year. I don't think the expanded practice squad or the ability to promote a player from the PS to the 53/55 will affect Gute's decisions on cutdown day very much, maybe not at all. I'd guess it will have some once in a while.

Question 3 throws me a bit. I think a promoted PS player automatically reverts to the PS the next day regardless of injury. If it is a football-related injury that occurred after being elevated or during the game itself, the player gets the bigger bucks, period.

I can't say I am completely certain about the rest of this comment. Normally, in order to go on IR, the injury must render the player unable to play or practice for 42 days. That IR would be the Practice Squad-Injured Reserve. If placed on PS-IR, I imagine the team can sign another player to the PS. If the injury is more minor, I think the player still gets the bigger bucks, but the team has to carry the player on the PS. The CBA appears to assume that there are no impediments to a player moving from the PS-IR back onto the PS. I can't find any provisions limiting this to two return designations or the like. I do suspect that it is mostly a moot point: if the team certifies that PS player X has an injury that will take 42 days or more to heal, I don't think the NFL is going to bring Player X in for an independent medical exam.

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Bure9620's picture

May 16, 2020 at 06:11 am

This a good rule for teams which become hit by injury at one position, particularly o-line. I always thought only having 7 offensive linemen active on game day was far too thin, even 8 is not many. It allows a team more flexibility with injury and to better train their practice squad guys, especially for multiple positions.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

May 16, 2020 at 01:28 am

Thank you! This was a myth in need of dispelling. I was so sick of hearing that rosters were 55 players now. No, we need to cut down to 53, which means that we need to waive those two extra players and they have to clear waivers before we can even sign them to the Practice Squad.

Another way to use the extra two players would be late in the season when the team wants to rest starters because they have nothing to play for. There are typically only so many starters that can be rested because you can't have every backup play 100% of the snaps. The extra two players would offer some additional bodies and flexibility to rest more starters.

This is by far the best article I've seen on CHTV lately, and there have been some good articles, so that's not to insult the other articles but to compliment this one.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 16, 2020 at 08:14 am

Thank you, you're very kind. Teams have usually promoted a couple of PS guys to the 53 every year, sometimes due to merit and due to injuries to players on the 53, or a combination of both. It will be easier to do in the future.

Although I wrote that teams won't promote players unless the team thinks there is a chance of them being active for the game, I suppose there might a promise to promote a guy from the PS if possible to attract candidates for the PS in the first place. GB has mostly relied on being good to PS guys to attract and retain them. Now, promoting a player twice leads to a salary increase of at least $54K when the player is slated to make $142K. That's a big increase from the player's viewpoint.

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Turophile's picture

May 16, 2020 at 06:03 am

Good stuff as usual TGR. It makes clear a rule I knew nothing about.

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CheesyTex's picture

May 16, 2020 at 08:14 am

Thank you, TGR.

Re: "...it remains to be seen ... how well each team utilizes the rule": My first thought was Belichick must be ecstatic, maybe he even wrote the rule.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 16, 2020 at 09:15 am

Indeed. I think I would be inclined to stash a Punter who also holds on the PS and/or a long snapper. In any event, something with a narrower focus that requires timing and practice/cohesion to function well.

A fair amount of it seems to be maturity, work ethic, and coachability. I wonder how much less physically gifted guys on the PS are relative to the players on the 53. I remember Lang saying he didn't take things seriously in his rookie year because he knew he wouldn't play that year. When Sitton called to tell him he had a real shot (Lang's 3rd year, IIRC - GB was moving on from Spitz) he got down to business.

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greengold's picture

May 16, 2020 at 09:46 am

This could get really funky... Not that the regular PS rules prior were much protection for teams potentially losing players. The twist is with a player brought up twice being able to sign with any team to their 53 man roster if he reverts back to his PS status. Is this without a team making a claim? Seems to broaden the power of a player's own movement. Higher potential for attrition to any team's PS by bringing a player up for a game day roster, which might dissuade teams from using this much? Pretty interesting.

Wish they would just increase roster sizes entirely.

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mnbadger's picture

May 16, 2020 at 09:41 am

Thank you for the deep dive. You explained the rule technically as well as ways a team may use it. This gives knucklehead gm's like me one more thing to rant about.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 16, 2020 at 10:46 am

I forgot to mention one curiosity. Teams can still pay practice squad players whatever they want, and we know of players who got raises to the NFL minimum salary for guys on the 53-man roster.

But, now 2 players can have an unlimited number of accrued seasons (increases to 4 later), but oddly enough, those players have a minimum salary and a quite low maximum. Those Min/Max salaries are $12K/$12K max in 2020, $14K/$14K in 2021, and then a $15.4K min and a $19.9 maximum in 2022 (and so on).

I am not sure why there is any maximum and why it is so low for these veteran practice squad players. Does the NFL want to deter teams from stashing a Jahri Evans on the PS? Someone who doesn't want to play a ton of games but wants a paycheck or just to remain around the game? IDK.

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flackcatcher's picture

May 16, 2020 at 08:08 pm

Yes. This goes into a side issue on the new contract. Both sides saw a problem that they were trying to get ahead of. I suspect that more will leak out as the season (hopefully) unfolds.

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