The NFL’s convoluted practice squad eligibility guidelines are often misinterpreted. As we reach the final stretch of training camp and start the preseason, it’s time for a crash course on practice squads.
The practice squad is a player development tool allowing each team to select up to 10 players to participate in practices and meetings, despite being ineligible for games. These players can be signed to the active roster of any team in the league at any point throughout the season.
The practice squad is designed to give young players who aren’t prepared for the NFL a chance to acclimate to the league, without forcing a team to use a roster spot. Notably, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and center Matt Paradis began their careers as practice squad members, as did the team’s all-time leading receiver, Rod Smith.
A player is fully eligible for a practice squad if he fulfills one of the following criteria:
A) He doesn’t have an accrued season (six games on an NFL roster during one season) and has been on an NFL practice squad for fewer than two seasons.
B) He has never been active for more than eight games in a single season and has spent fewer than two seasons on an NFL practice squad.
A player is practice-squad eligible as long as his team carries a full 53-man roster for the entire season, if he fulfills one of the following criteria:
A) He doesn’t have an accrued season and has spent exactly two seasons on an NFL practice squad.
B) He has never been active for more than eight games in a single season and has spent exactly two seasons on an NFL practice squad.
Additionally, a team can carry a limited number of players on their practice squad who have accrued seasons. This exception can apply to up to four players per team, all of whom must fulfill one of the following criteria:
A) He has one or two accrued seasons and has spent one season or fewer on an NFL practice squad.
B) He has one or two accrued seasons, exactly two seasons on an NFL practice squad, and his team carries a full 53-man roster throughout the entire season.
Here’s every Bronco’s practice squad eligibility status:
Eligible if 53-man roster is full
Eligible as one of four exceptions
Fowler III, Bennie
Harris Jr., Chris