All 32 NFL teams will have one extra practice squad position for an international player starting next year in a bid to boost opportunities for global talent, the league announced Wednesday.
Since 2017,select divisions had been allocated players from outside the United States as part of the NFL's International Player Pathway (IPP) program and 37 global players have signed with NFL clubs.
"The game grows and improves with global talent from around the world who inspire the next generation in their home nation," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said.
Four players from the IPP program are on active NFL rosters, including Australia offensive tackle Jordan Mailata of Philadelphia, German running back Jakob Johnson of Las Vegas and Washington's Nigerian-born British defensive end Efe Obada and German defensive tackle David Bada.
"The IPP program changed my life and I'm very thankful for the opportunity it has provided me," Mailata said. "The program shows so many young athletes around the world that playing in the NFL can be a reality.
"Expanding the program to see all 32 teams able to sign an international player to their practice squad will only continue to help make our sport better, more diverse and more competitive."
Starting next year, all NFL practice squads can have a 17th player if the extra player is someone whose residence and citizenship are outside Canada or the United States and who has no more than two years of US high school experience.
"The practice squad roster expansion for international players will further contribute to our goal of building a sustainable pathway to the NFL for elite global athletes, while also creating local connections with fans around the world," said Peter O'Reilly, NFL executive vice president for club business, major events and international.
Clubs can elevate an international practice squad player to the active roster a maximum of three times in a season.
"As interest and participation in our game continues to grow and thrive globally, the talent pool of players who have the potential to impact our game on and off the field keeps expanding as well," said Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Joel Glazer, chair of the NFL International Committee and part of the English Premier League's Manchester United ownership group.
"The opportunity for all 32 clubs to utilize an additional practice squad roster spot for an international player is a significant step forward in helping to identify, develop and enable more exciting talent from around the world to play in the NFL.
"Our clubs will embrace this new opportunity to develop the pipeline of international players as we grow our game."