Last night the Chicago Bears, along with the other 31 teams in the NFL, wrapped up their preseason schedule. The next big event on the NFL calendar is the cut down to 53 players, which must be done before 4pm Eastern tomorrow, September 5th.
After that each team will begin scouring the waiver wire in hopes of unearthing the next great diamond in the rough and stashing him on their practice squad. Sunday, September 6th, at 1pm Eastern, each team will begin announcing their practice squads (henceforth to be referred to as "PS").
Before a player can be signed to a PS, he first must pass through waivers. Any team that claims a player after cut down day must put him on their 53 man roster. The Bears, by the way, are 7th in the waiver claim order.
Keep in mind that until teams officially announce that a player has inked a deal, the player could still look elsewhere. We're sure to get early Twitter reports of players that have signed with a team, only to find out he's actually mulling over a few offers. Agents and friends sometimes jump the gun in congratulating someone on their new PS gig.
So unless you see that a signing is official don't get too excited. And also keep in mind that we'll have all the official news right here on Windy City Gridiron.
You can check out the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (beginning on page 160) for all the specifics on the PS, but I'll go over some basics right here. Keep in mind a few changes have been made to the CBA in the last few years.
How big is the PS and which players are eligible?
These days the PS consists of 10 players. A player is eligible for the PS if he does not have an accrued season in the NFL, although recently the NFL has approved a maximum of two spots on the PS for players with no more than two accrued seasons.
An accrued season means you were active for at least six regular season games. A player can also go to the PS with an accrued season provided they were on the 45 man active roster for less than nine regular season games.
Also, a player is only allowed to be on a PS for two years. However, a 3rd year of PS eligibility is granted if the team that employed him that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.
Can any team sign anyone's PS players?
Yes. Although if a team tries to sign one of your guys you have the option of promoting him to the active roster. Also if a team signs a PS guy, he must be placed on the new teams active roster. No PS to PS movement allowed.
So the Packers can sign one of the Bears PS players before they play?
Sort of. I'll refer to the CBA for this one, "a PS player may not sign an NFL Player Contract with his Club's next opponent later than 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the sixth day preceding the game (except in bye weeks, when the prohibition commences on the tenth day preceding the game)."
If a team does sign a PS player for the sole intent of picking his brain about his old team, the new team is actually stuck with him on the active roster for a minimum of three weeks. Even if the team cuts their new player prior to the three weeks, his roster spot remains, so it's not really worth the trouble.
Or is it?
What do PS players do and how much do they make?
The PS will practice with their team and meet with their position coaches, just like real NFL players, but they don't travel with the team on game day. The minimum salary for PS players is $6,600 per week. A few players make a little more and a few others may get a small signing bonus, but for the most part, a full 17 week season will get these NFL hopefuls a salary of $112,200.
Not bad work if you can find it.
There are a few other specifics including a Contagious Disease Addendum, but for more you can check out the CBA.