clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The NFL emergency QB rule is back

Jake Browning could be a big benefactor from this.

NFL: AUG 27 Preseason - Rams at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL is bringing back the emergency quarterback rule.

On Monday, NFL owners approved a bylaw that will allow teams to dress a third QB for games without having to use a gameday roster spot on that player. It’s actually something the NFL adopted in 1991 but got rid of in 2010.

For the third QB to be eligible to play, two things must happen.

  • The third QB must be on the 53-man roster and can’t be called up from the practice squad.
  • The third QB can play only if the other two are injured or ejected. If one of said injured QBs is cleared to return, the third QB must exit the game.

Also, activation cannot be a result of a head coach’s in-game decision to remove a player from the game due to performance or conduct.

This rule, or lack thereof, was put in the spotlight during the 2023 NFC Championship when the San Francisco 49ers watched Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson go down with injuries vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.

Purdy was able to return but was clearly ineffective due to the injury and just handed the ball off for the most part. Has this rule been in effect, the 49ers could have had a third QB on the roster and been able to enter the game if Purdy was ruled out.

For the Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow is QB1, and recently-signed veteran Trevor Siemian figures to be QB2. Jake Browning has spent the past two seasons on the Bengals’ practice squad. Now that he could theoretically be activated if Burrow and Siemian were to be injured, you have to think that helps Browning’s odds of making the 53-man roster.

Many NFL teams opt to carry just two QBs on the 53-man roster, so this rule change could lead to teams like the Bengals carrying three from now on.