While the NFL has prohibited teams from requiring their players to house in a ‘bubble’ for the postseason (players may do so voluntarily), there are some areas in which the league has provided just a smidge of added flexibility, making some common sense changes that helps teams increase their roster flexibility.
These two changes are eliminating the Covid-19 testing window for players who have been consistently tested, such as those who are claimed off waivers or traded. Previously, even if a player is traded from one team to another, or signed off of a practice squad, they would have to isolate for five days of testing before they could be around their new team.
We already saw this earlier this year when the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for Avery Williamson. Other players like Danny Isidora and Cassius Marsh, whom they signed off of other teams’ practice squads, had to go through this process before they could play.
The other significant change is that the league is lifting the limit on the number of times that a player may be elevated from the practice squad in time for postseason play. Practice squad elevations were a new feature as part of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Under the elevation process, up to two players per week may be elevated to the gameday roster as the 54th or 55th player and play in the game while reverting back to the practice squad the next day without having to clear waivers. Each player, however, may only be elevated twice in a season, regardless of whether or not it comes with different organizations, or in the postseason.
At least, that is how it was designed to work, but now there will be no limitations for the postseason. A couple of weeks too late for the Steelers, who had to waive lineman Derwin Gray in order to promote linebacker Tegray Scales from the practice squad, because he had been elevated the previous two weeks, and they still needed him as depth.
A memo that went out on Tuesday specified that this is a temporary freeze of the rule only for the 2020 postseason, a response to the unique circumstances posed by the pandemic, in helping playoff teams to fill their roster should an issue arise.
Basically, from the start of the postseason, teams will really be able to operate as though they have a 55-man roster, with the final two roster spots being flexible on a weekly basis. This is what the league wanted to avoid when they implemented to change, but they are making the exception for this occasion.
The NFL also informed clubs daily testing and intensive protocols will continue throughout the playoffs, and laid out guidelines for club’s offseason testing and workout rules, including a 20-player maximum inside facilities. Full memo: pic.twitter.com/R1bwMiCh9s
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 29, 2020