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2015 NFL practice squad rules, salary and eligibility

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What are the rules this year?

Now that NFL cuts are done and waiver claims are complete, the players who cleared waivers are still looking for work. Now the Arizona Cardinals are forming their 10-man practice squad. What are the rules? Here is a quick primer.

How many players on the practice squad?

10 - It was previously 8, but last year the NFL changed it to 10 for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. They will need to reach a subsequent agreement to keep these new rules in place.

How is a player eligible for the practice squad?

In order to be eligible for the practice squad, players must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have no prior Accrued Seasons in the NFL (An accrued season is six or more games on the active roster);
  • Have one prior Accrued Season in which the player was on the 45-man active roster for no more than 8 games;
  • Each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of 2 Practice Squad players who have earned no more than 2 accrued seasons of free agency credit;
  • If served two seasons on a practice squad, are eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player's employment.
  • A player has served one season on the practice squad if he is on the practice squad for at least 6 games. The rule previously required 3 games on the practice squad roster.

Salary

Players on the practice squad can earn a minimum of $6,600 per week in 2015. Teams are allowed to pay a player a higher salary than the minimum, and this often happens if another team comes sniffing around a player. All practice squad salaries are counted under the team's salary cap.

Player rights

While on a practice squad, a player is paid by that particular team. However, the player has the right to sign with another team's 53-man roster. The one exception to this is that the player may not sign a contract with his team's next opponent after 1 p.m. PT six days preceding the game (10 days preceding in bye weeks). A player cannot sign a practice squad contract with one team and then leave to sign a practice squad contract with another team, unless the first team has released said player.

Promotion

If a player signs with another team's 53-man roster, or is promoted to his own team's 53-man roster, the player must be paid for at least 3 weeks of at least league minimum salary. They can be released before the 3 weeks is up, but they still have to be paid.

There is one exception to this called the Contagious Disease Addendum, which was first added in June 2010 in a side letter agreement to the last CBA. This states that if a player is promoted from the practice squad for a game because a club was given a roster exemption due to confirmed or suspected cases of contagious disease among its players, the player remains on his practice squad contract, but will be paid 1/17 of the league minimum salary. After the game he will be returned to the practice squad without having to clear waivers.