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NFL Practice Squad Rules: Teams can now keep 10 players, 2 with extended eligibility

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As the Seahawks cut down to 53 players on their active roster, keep in mind that Practice Squads will be formed today and over the weekend, and teams are now allowed a maximum of ten players for that group, an increase of two over the long-standing standard of eight.

The rules for the additional two players have changed as well. The extra two players can have up to 32 games on an active roster over their first two seasons while remaining eligible for the practice squad, meaning essentially any 2012 or 2013 rookies now become eligible. This is a pretty big deal, and allows teams a lot more flexibility with who they decide to put on the squad, and with who they decide to bring up to the active roster during the course of a season.

As for the other eight spots on the practice squad, those players are under the old eligibility rule which allows for no more than eight games on an active NFL roster. Another new rule gives teams a little more leniency in terms of eligibility, noting that if a player spends less than six games of the season on a team's practice squad, it doesn't count against their total practice squad seasons. The rule in place is that players are only allowed three full seasons of practice squad eligibility, but now the Seahawks can rotate their squad and still give their guys a little bit longer time to develop on the squad without losing eligibility.

Ultimately, these rules are all about developing players, which is nice, because the Seahawks place a heavy emphasis on development of "in-house" players that they've brought along year-to-year.

As Mark Sandwritter explained at SBNation's dot-com,

Practice squad basics

  • Practice squad players ... practice with the team. They do not play in games.
  • Not all players are eligible to be signed to NFL practice squads (see above).
  • Practice squad players are paid per week and can be released at any point during the season.
  • Practice squad players are free to sign with other NFL teams, assuming they are signed to the 53-man active roster. A practice squad player cannot be signed to another practice squad unless he is first released.
  • A practice squad player can not sign with their team's upcoming opponent, unless they do so six days before the upcoming game or 10 days if their team is currently on a bye week.
  • If a practice squad player is signed to the active roster, they will receiver a minimum of three paychecks, even if they are released before spending three weeks with the team.
  • In order to be signed to a practice squad after being released, a player must first clear through waivers.

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