The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut down to a 53-man roster late last night, though they’re not quite done making moves there just yet. But as they do, they’ll also pick up some players to put on their initial practice squad—ten, to be precise.
Not everyone’s eligible to be on the practice squad, though. It’s meant to act as a sort of developmental squad, where players with potential who aren’t quite ready to play in the regular season can get in some practice experience and familiarity with the scheme, in case the team needs them. Naturally, then, it’s mostly filled with inexperienced players at the start of their careers.
Buccaneers practice squad tracker
2:38 p.m.: And Auman says safety Isaiah Johnson is on the squad, too. With Bobo Wilson, who has apparently accepted that practice squad spot, we now have just three spots left.
2:35 p.m.: Okay, it definitely means McNichols is out.
Rookie RB Jeremy McNichols, waived by the Bucs yesterday, will sign with the 49ers' practice squad, source says.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 3, 2017
2:34 p.m.: Running back Russell Hansbrough joins the practice squad, per Greg Auman, which may mean Jeremy McNichols is out. Or maybe not. We’ll see
2:05 p.m.: Number five: cornerback Jonathan Moxey is on the practice squad too, again per Auman.
1:49 p.m.: And another one: fullback/tight end Austin Johnson, per Greg Auman. Seven spots left.
1:21 p.m.: Greg Auman adds that defensive end Sterling Bailey, who also spent this preseason with the Bucs, is signing to the Tampa Bay practice squad.
1:13 p.m.: OL Mike Liedtke’s agent says he’s signing to the Bucs’ practice squad after spending the offseason with the team.
10:52 a.m.: Greg Auman notes that wide receiver Bobo Wilson has been offered a practice squad spot.
Practice squad rules
Let’s quickly recap the practice squad rules.
How big is the practice squad?
Any NFL team is allowed to have up to ten players on their practice squad at any point during the regular season. There is no practice squad during the offseason. One caveat: the Bucs get dispensation for an eleventh player this year as part of a new NFL program to develop international talent. Linebacker Eric Nzeoca will be on the practice squad throughout the year as that eleventh player.
Who is eligible for the practice squad?
Anyone without an ‘accrued season’ is allowed to be on any practice squad for up to three seasons (at least six weeks on a practice squad per season) in his career. A player accrues a season when he spends at least six games on a 53-man roster, PUP or on injured reserve during a single season.
In addition, teams can have four players with up to two accrued seasons on the practice squad. If a player has one accrued season but was on a roster for fewer than nine games, he does not count as taking up one of these veteran spots.
How do you sign a player to a practice squad?
By reaching an agreement with a free agent who is eligible for a practice squad. You can’t put players from your 53-man roster on the practice squad directly: they have to go through waivers first, so other teams have a chance to sign them.
How do you call up a player from the practice squad?
Teams can call up any practice squad player to their regular season roster at any point. Other teams can also sign any other team’s practice squad players to their regular season roster, except in the six days preceding a game between the two teams(ten days during bye weeks). That rule prevents teams from poaching practice squad players just to get an insight into an opposing team’s tactics.
Also, if a practice squad player gets called up, he’ll get at least three weeks of full roster pay—to prevent teams from constantly shuffling players back and forth.
How much do practice squad players get paid?
That depends on the individual contract, but at minimum they’re paid $7,200 per week. That amounts to about a quarter of the minimum salary of a regular rostered player, so players receive a big salary boost when they get called up. That’s why teams sometimes offer practice squad players significantly more money: to give them an incentive to stay on the practice squad, instead of signing with another team on their 53-man roster.
How stable is the practice squad?
Not. Teams will be shuffling that practice squad throughout the year as players become available, they want some backups at specific positions, or they need some extra help to prepare in practice. Practice squad players often double as the scout team for the starters to practice against.