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NFL may alter practice squad eligibility rules

This could allow more veteran players to be signed to practice squads.

Arizona Cardinals v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

The NFL still has a lot to figure out as COVID-19 continues to reshape how sports are conducted in 2020.

One way the league could make things easier for teams in need of players to replace those who may catch the virus is expanding the practice squad, as well as altering its rules so more players are eligible for it.

According to Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy, the league is considering a plan that would allow more veterans to be on practice squads this year.

“We are absolutely considering increasing the practice squad this year to give teams more roster flexibility during the pandemic,” said Murphy. “The practice squad has steadily grown over the years. It was set at 10 last year and goes to 12 under the new bargaining agreement (and then increases to 14 during the term of the agreement). These discussions are part of our negotiations with the NFLPA, but I do anticipate that the practice squad will be increased this year (it is a positive for the players and teams).

“We are also considering changing the eligibility rules for the practice squad, again to provide more flexibility, especially for teams to sign more veteran players to the practice squad.”

Talk of expanded practice squads has been brewing for several months now, but this is the first real mention of the NFL changing its rules so more experienced players can be on the squad. The current rules make it hard for any NFL player with significant regular-season experience to be eligible for it.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And when teams eventually have players contract COVID-19 in the middle of the season, having an adequate replacement waiting in the wings on the practice squad could be very beneficial and help offset the loss of the sickened player.