NFL GMs and coaching staffs around the league are going to rely on "their guys" more than ever in 2020, due to the challenges associated with COVID-19, but fortunately, they'll be able to roster a platoon of players on the practice squad.
Back in spring — it feels like a lifetime ago — the NFL and NFLPA came to terms on expanding practice squads from 10 players to 12 players, and growing to 14 in 2022; however, this was prior to COVID-19 throwing life into a tailspin. In the wake of the pandemic, the NFL opted to allow teams to roster 16 players on the practice squad, which gives coaching staffs some much-needed wiggle room.
"I think it was a big deal [to expand the practice squad] and I think it was done primarily for roster flexibility in a COVID year," Raiders GM Mike Mayock said Sunday. "So, we have more players on practice squad, we have the ability to call players up and down without exposing them to waivers and we got an ability to bring an unlimited number of players back from injured reserve. All of that was generated because of COVID."
The biggest benefit of the rule change is that veterans are able to be signed to the practice squad with an unlimited number of years in the league — typically, a player can't be signed with more than two years of experience.
"As far as specifically towards the veterans, you're allowed up to six veterans on your practice squad which is really helpful," Mayock added, "and we're going to try and take advantage of that at some key positions, and have guys that have been in NFL games.
Offseason practices weren't what they normally would be and the window of opportunity to establish a role on a team was minimal at best for players in new places, but now they'll have more time to ingrain themselves with their assigned scheme.
It's also to be noted that players can be called up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster 90 minutes before kickoff, which gives coaches a lot of flexibility. I'm sure there will be a handful of coaches who try to confuse opposing coaching staffs with a late roster addition just before kickoff.
Sunday, the Las Vegas Raiders signed 14 players to the practice squad. You can view the full list, here.
Take a look at the Raiders' current 53-man roster heading into the 2020 season.