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Changes made to roster, practice squad, IR rules


The new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was reached in March between the NFL and the NFLPA includes key changes regarding roster limits, practice squads and injured reserve, beginning this season.

The two sides later added more adjustments due to potential outbreaks of COVID-19. Here's a recap of the changes for the 2020 season:

Practice squads

The new CBA included a provision to increase practice squads from 10 to 12 players, with a maximum of two players having an unlimited number of accrued NFL seasons. But due to the coronavirus, practice squads were expanded this year only to 16 with a maximum of six players with unlimited NFL experience.

Another change due to COVID-19 allows teams to protect four practice-squad players per week from being signed by other clubs. The four players can be changed on a weekly basis. For teams playing a Sunday game, the protection expires Sunday night and doesn't go back into effect until Tuesday afternoon.

One provision that was already included in the new CBA enabled teams to activate two practice-squad players per game—thus increasing the size of the active roster from 53 to 55—and then return them to the practice squad the day after the game without exposing them to waivers. However, no player can be elevated from the practice squad to the active roster more than twice during a season; the third time their contract would be terminated and they would be placed on waivers before they could be returned to the practice squad. 

Injured reserve

Because of COVID-19, this season NFL teams can return an unlimited number of players from injured reserve to their active rosters as long as they've spent at least three weeks on IR. After three weeks, the player can return to practice. Once he returns to practice, the team has 21 days to put him back on the active roster.

Game-day active rosters

One change that was already included in the new CBA allows teams to increase their number of active players on gameday from 46 in previous years to 48 as long as that includes at least eight offensive linemen. Teams with fewer than eight offensive linemen can activate 47 players on gameday.