While we still don’t know yet if the latest CBA proposal will be ratified by the NFL players, we are beginning to learn about a few more interesting tidbits included in it. The latest notable tidbit comes courtesy of Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network and it revolves around practice squad players and their promotions to active rosters.
According to Pelissero’s Thursday morning tweet concerning the current CBA proposal, practice squad players that are elevated to their team’s active roster during a season may be returned to the practice squad twice without having to go through waivers. Additionally, Pelissero reports that two practice squad players may be elevated to a team’s active roster each week during the regular season, increasing the total roster size to 54 or 55 players.
So, how would have this new roster rule related to the practice squad impacted the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2019 season? If I’m understanding Pelissero’s tweet correctly, the Steelers wouldn’t have lost center Patrick Morris via waivers to the Denver Broncos last season had this new rule been in place.
While Morris never played an offensive snap for the Steelers last season in the limited time that he was on the 53-man roster following him being promoted from the practice squad in late November, he was needed to serve as an emergency replacement due to starting center Maurkice Pouncey being suspended for two games.
Once Pouncey was eligible to return to the active roster after serving his two-game suspension, Morris was waived with the likely hope that he would clear waivers and ultimately be signed back to the practice squad. The Broncos, however, swooped in and claimed Morris off waivers and that was that.
While the Steelers also lost two other players, outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper and tackle/guard Fred Johnson, to other teams via waivers last season, the fact that neither spent time on the team’s practice squad during the season probably means that this new proposed rule that Pelissero is reporting would have made a difference. Skipper and Johnson both made the Steelers initial 53-man roster.
Skipper was quickly waived prior to the team’s Week 1 game and the New York Giants claimed him off waivers. Luckily for the Steelers, they were able to sign Skipper back to their 53-man roster off the Giants practice squad in the middle of November. As for Johnson, who like Skipper made the Steelers initial 53-man roster, the Cincinnati Bengals claimed the rookie undrafted free agent out of Florida when he was waived in the middle of October. The Steelers probably were hoping that Johnson would clear waivers so that they could sign him to their practice squad.
Based on the little bit that we know now about this proposed practice squad shuttling rule, I must say that I like it as it should provide NFL teams a little leeway with younger players they are trying to develop long-term.