All NFL teams are allowed to keep up to 8 players on a “practice squad” after they go down to their active 53 man roster after training camp. These players are not eligible to play in games but they do practice with the team. There are of course all kinds of rules about who can be on the practice squad, how much they will make, and who can sign them from other teams.
But in short the practice squad is for developmental players who have little to no NFL experience – so you can’t sign Tim Tebow to your practice squad just for fun. To be eligible players need to have less than one accrued season (have played in less than 6 games) or be free agents who were on the Active List for fewer than 9 regular season games during their only accrued season. And you can’t stay on the practice squad forever – the max is three seasons and that is only if the team has at least 53 players on their Active/Inactive list during the entire period of their employment that last season.
Here are the players who were on the Denver Broncos squad at the end of last season. All but Youboty are currently on the Broncos roster.
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I can see Gerell Robinson making the 53 man roster this year, especially after Joel Dreessen’s release. I can also see Ben Garland making the roster to add some depth to the offensive line. In general the practice squad will usually reflect the positions where the team feels they need more depth.
It will be interesting to see if there will be any quarterbacks on the Broncos practice squad this year. A lot of people thought Zac Dysert might end up on the practice squad last season but the Broncos decided to keep 3 quarterbacks instead, perhaps not wanting to risk losing Dysert to another team. Before a player can be signed onto a team’s practice squad they must “clear waivers” and not be signed to another team’s 53 man roster.
So if a team really likes a players potential they might think twice about chancing another team grabbing them and find room for them on their 53 man roster. A practice squad player can be signed onto another teams 53 man roster but not within 6 days of playing the original team (can you imagine how crazy it would be without that rule?) A player can’t move directly from one team’s practice squad to another team’s practice squad.
Last season lower draft picks Tavarres King and Vinston Painter started off in the Broncos practice squad. King was promoted to the 53 man roster when the Green Bay Packers showed interest in him, but was then waived to make room for Von Miller’s reinstatement. The Carolina Panthers then claimed King off waivers before he could be brought back onto the Broncos practice squad. Painter was signed onto the 53 man roster last January from the practice squad.
Will lower 2014 draft picks Lamin Barrow, Matt Paradis, or Corey Nelson be on the Broncos practice squad this season? Only time will tell.