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The nuts and bolts of an NFL Practice Squad

Photo by Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.

Starting tomorrow at high noon Chicago time, teams can begin announcing players that they have signed to their practice squad. Knowing the Bears, they’ll be really late on their announcements...

There are some rules each team must follow however.

Some of the pertinent waiver wire rules can be found here, courtesy of our very own Ken Mitchell, NFL Waiver Rules Explained.

For a lengthy explanation of the practice squad you can peep out our sister site, Blogging the Boys, for their take on the PS.

You guys can consider mine the cliff-notes version.

What is the practice squad?

These are the players that practice with the team, but never get to play on Sundays. They get to be on the scout teams in practice and fill in when regulars are injured. They earn a minimum salary of $7,200 per week.

How big is the practice squad?

Every team is allowed up to ten players, with the exception of the four NFC South teams, who are each allowed an 11th player that must be an international player.


Players with less than two accrued years of service in the NFL are eligible for the practice squad. Teams may have up to four players on the practice squad that have up to three years of service.

Can teams steal the Bears players?

Practice squad players are technically free agents, but if a team “poaches” your player, that player must remain on their active roster for three weeks. If he’s cut before that, he reverts back to his original team.

If a team really values a prospect they’ll often promote him and waive someone off their roster.

Here are some quick PS bullet points, also courtesy of Blogging the Boys.

Practice squad basics

  • Each NFL team can have up to 10 players on its practice squad.
  • 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 eligibility rules 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, but they have to be signed to the 53-man active roster of the acquiring team. A practice squad player cannot be signed to another practice squad unless he is first released.
  • A practice squad player can not sign with his team's upcoming opponent, unless he does so six days before the upcoming game or 10 days if his team is currently on a bye week.
  • If a practice squad player is signed to the active roster, he will receive a minimum of three weekly paychecks, even if he is released before spending three weeks with the new team.
  • In order to be signed to a practice squad after being released, a player must first clear waivers, and is subject to waiver claims by other teams

Anything you see not covered here, just drop your questions in the comment section.