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How the international practice squad player will work for the Bengals

The NFL is allowing the AFC North to have an extra player on their practice squad, but that player has to be an international player. There is even more to it than that though.

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We recently wrote about how the Bengals were taking a look at an international player that the team may look to add onto their practice squad since the NFL is allowing each AFC North team to have an 11th practice squad player who is deemed to be international.

At the time, not much was explained about the rule, but recently Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer found out a bit more of the specifics of the rule. Some of the specifics of the rule go as follows:

  • The NFL will assign the player
  • The team can note a few players of interest
  • If the player is assigned before the draft he counts against the team’s 90-man roster limit
  • If the player is assigned after the draft the Bengals could have 91-players in camp
  • If he makes the team after camp, he would count against the 53-man roster
  • The player getting cut after camp would still go through waivers as usual
  • If the Bengals then choose to re-sign him after clearing waivers he would officially become the 11th practice squad player

There is obviously a lot of concerns there. The team not being able to really decide who they get is a major negative. It really hurts the players more than anything unless the league allows the player to have a little bit of say on where they end up.

If the NFL assigns a player to a team where there is already a crowd at the position, then that hurts that player’s chance of making a team, which pretty much nullifies what they are trying to do.

In the case of the Bengals, they were looking at Jordan Mailata, who is a former Rugby player who is looking to become an offensive tackle in the NFL. Cincinnati has an obvious need along the offensive line, and if he ended up with the Bengals he’d have a real shot of making the team.

At the very least, they’d be interested in keeping him on and developing him. Now if the NFL sent the Bengals say a corner or receiver, which is a position the Bengals are already deep at then that player may not end up making it to the practice squad. They’d still be a free player for the team essentially. As in he wouldn’t be taking a spot from another player.

There are obviously a lot of routes where this player doesn’t make it as the 11th man on the roster. There are really even more questions created by this.

Does the team decide when the NFL assigns a player?

What if a team signs a different AFC North’s international player to the practice squad?

If the player gets cut at anytime before final cuts and picked up by an eligible team with an international spot, could they instead use that player in the 11th spot instead of their assigned one?

Some of these have answers that you would assume to be obvious, but then again you’d assume the team could actually choose which player they would add to their roster for this.