The NFL is once again making an alteration to the practice squad rules.
According to ESPN analyst and former Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik, the NFL has reached an agreement with the NFL Players Association to keep practice squads at 10 players from 2016-2017.
The league will also allow four players per practice squad to have two accrued seasons, making it easier for teams to give experienced players a place in the NFL. Before, only two players with two accrued seasons were allowed to be on a practice squad.
This means four players with up to two years of experience being on a 53-man roster will be given the chance to stay in the NFL via a team's practice squad. This also helps ensure that few, if any guys worthy of playing in the NFL don't slip through the cracks and get forced to play pro football in another league.
For the Bengals, this means players like Marquis Flowers, T.J. Johnson and James Wright, who are all entering their third NFL seasons, would be eligible for the practice squad and if the Bengals wanted all three of them on the practice squad, they could be. Comparatively, say hypothetically, the rules from last year were in place and the Bengals wanted all three of those players on the practice squad, only two of the three would be allowed.
In 2014, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to expand practice squads from eight to 10 players for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The change was only in effect for those seasons, so the two sides had to come to an agreement this offseason to expand the agreement or put it into effect permanently.
Every year, around 700 NFL players face the prospects of being unemployed by the second week in September, but not all is lost for those who get their pink slips. In many professional sports teams, getting cut often signals the end of the road with their team, but the NFL offers a saving grace for some who don't make their team's final 53-man rosters, an opportunity to join the practice squad.
The dream of running out of the tunnel on Sunday does not die if a player can latch onto a practice squad. While the practice squad isn't exactly living the NFL dream, it does keep the dream alive.
It's also offers a decent paycheck; for the 2015 season, practice squad players made no less than $6,600 per week. A full season on the practice squad earned a player more than $100,000 for the year.
So while many players on the practice squad never go on to make a big impact in the NFL, they do get a chance to get paid while going through NFL practices and learning from NFL coaches and players.