NFL roster rules are confusing. NFI, IR, PUP, ABC, 123? Not quite.
The 2022 NFL season is imminent, and as teams play preseason games to sort out their rosters, coaches across the league will be taking long, hard looks to determine the best back end of the roster that they can build.
While most teams have their 53-man units penciled in, there’s still a matter of sorting out the 37 men who will hit waiver wires off the 90-man rosters currently constituting all 32 NFL squads. With three separate cut days leading up to the final game of the preseason, there’s plenty of room for surprising cuts, veteran additions and more.
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You can learn everything you need to know about roster cutdown days, practice squad rules and more below:
When are NFL roster cuts 2022?
53-man roster deadline
- Date: Tuesday, Aug. 30
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
By Tuesday, Aug. 30, every NFL team must reduce its roster to no more than 53 players. During the preseason, teams may hold up to 90 players, and in three separate phases, must cut down to the 53 players they’ll carry during the regular season.
In addition to the 53-man roster, NFL practice squads will start to come into focus after that point. Teams are allowed to hold 16 players (within certain qualifications) on their practice squad (more on practice squads below).
In addition to the main cut day, there are two more deadlines during which NFL teams will trim their rosters in the coming weeks.
85-man roster deadline
- Date: Tuesday, Aug. 16
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
80-man roster deadline
- Date: Tuesday, Aug. 23
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
NFL roster cut rules
Each NFL team must trim its roster from 80 to 53 by Tuesday, Aug. 30. As is the case with most NFL teams, cuts leading to the deadline may not come in all at once, with moves being made in the days and week leading up to 4 p.m.
The NFL lays out the rules for cutdown day as follows:
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
Simultaneously with the roster reduction to 53 players, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; terminate or request waivers with the designation of Failed Physical or Non- Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.
Players who are on the Reserve List or Exempt List and are not counting against the 90-player limit will begin to count against the 90-player limit.
Players who are on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Non-football Injury (NFI) lists do not count towards the 90- or 53-man roster during the offseason or the regular season. Once a player is activated from a list, then room must be created on the 53-man roster.
If a player remains on the PUP list, he will not be eligible to return until after the team’s sixth regular-season game. Players who are placed on Injured Reserve (IR) prior to the final cut day cannot return during the season.
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NFL practice squad rules
In 2022, teams may have 16 players on the practice squad. Of the 16 players, 10 may not have accrued more than two NFL seasons, while the remaining six players have no limitations (veterans).
Players who are on the practice squad can be placed on the active/game day roster no more than three times during the regular season. In the event that a player is made active on game day a fourth time, then they must be signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
The qualifications for the practice squad are as follows:
- Players who do not have an accrued season of NFL experience (rookies);
- Players who were on the active list for fewer than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season(s);
- Up to four players per team who have earned no more than two accrued seasons (no game limitations);
- Up to six players per team with no limitations as to their number of earned accrued seasons.
Players who are on a team’s practice squad may not sign a contract with another team’s practice squad. Instead, the signing team must sign the player to a 53-man roster spot. Those players can sign with another team at any point during the season.
Up to four players can be protected on the league’s practice squad each week; Other teams may not sign protected practice squad players.
NFL practice squad salaries
There are two salary scales that the NFL uses to determine practice squad salaries.
Players who have accrued two or fewer seasons in the NFL use the following salary scale, paid on a fixed, weekly salary, increasing on a yearly basis through the expiration of the current CBA.
NFL veterans have a little bit more negotiating power when it comes to salary on the practice squad, negotiating within a salary window as follows:
|Year||Minimum salary||Maximum salary|
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