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Which Falcons Are Eligible For the Practice Squad?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bernard Reedy

Earlier this month, the NFL announced new rules for the eligibility of players to make various practice squads that all 32 teams keep. Teams will have to establish their practice squads this upcoming Sunday after the Saturday deadline in which final cuts are made and teams establish their final 53-man rosters.

In the past, teams were allowed to carry eight players in addition to their 53-man roster for their practice squad. Practice squad players can work out at team facilities, can practice and travel with the team, but cannot in fact play in NFL games unless activated to the 53-man roster.

But new rules expand the number of players from eight to 10. There are also changes in how players are eligible for the practice squad.

The eligibility rules aren’t so clear-cut, but here are the basics before discussing the changes:

  1. Players cannot have been played in more than eight games on a team’s active roster. For example, while safety Kemal Ishmael spent the entire season on the Falcons 53-man roster last season, he remains eligible for the practice squad because he only played in four games last season.
  2. Players are only allowed to spend two seasons on the practice squad. There are exceptions to allow a third, but how that exemption applies isn’t so clear, so I won’t confuse you or myself by trying to explain it. Typically, a season on the practice squad is determined if a player spent three games on a team’s practice squad. For example, the last addition to the Falcons practice squad last season was wide receiver Dominique Croom. He spent five weeks on the Falcons practice squad at the end of the season, and thus one of his two years of eligibility has now been used.

Now let’s discuss what has changed besides the overall number.

The league basically added two new spots to the eight-man practice squad, and those two spots have different rules. But the same rules apply to the remaining eight with one clear exception: now it takes a minimum of six games to accrue a season spent on the practice squad instead of three.

For the two new additions, teams are now allowed to add players that have two or less accrued seasons. An accrued season is a term that applies to free agency, which basically means that a player has spent at least six games on a team’s active or inactive roster, regardless of whether he’s actually played in those games. For example, Ishmael accrued a season last year despite only playing in four games because he was on the roster for at least six games. Linebacker Marquis Spruill will accrue a season this year despite being on the injured reserve, as that is counted towards free agency as well. Typically once practice squad players accrue a season, they are no longer eligible, with the exception being the first point mentioned earlier which allows a player to play in less than nine games during that season. The new rule changes mean that a player who has accrued up to two seasons is now eligible for the two new practice squad spots, even if they’ve played in up to 32 games. This means that 2012 and 2013 draft picks are eligible for the two new positions.

First let’s look at the players that are eligible for the first eight spots under the new “normal” conditions before looking at those players that will now qualify for the last two spots. I will include players that were also cut this past weekend in the two respective lists.

Eligible for the “Eight” Spots:

QB Sean Renfree
QB Jeff Mathews
RB Devonta Freeman
RB Jerome Smith
FB Maurice Hagens
WR Geraldo Boldewijn
WR Julian Jones
WR Freddie Martino
WR Bernard Reedy
WR Tramaine Thompson
TE Jacob Pedersen
TE Brian Wozniak
OL Jake Matthews
OL Terren Jones
OL Adam Replogle
OL James Stone
DL Ra’Shede Hageman
DL Theo Agnew
DL Nosa Eguae
DL Donte Rumph
LB Prince Shembo
LB Yawin Smallwood
LB Tyler Starr
LB Brenden Daley
LB Darin Drakeford
LB Walker May
LB Jacques Smith
CB Ricardo Allen
CB Devonta Glover-Wright
CB Jordan Mabin
S Kemal Ishmael
S Dezmen Southward
S Sean Baker
S Kimario McFadden

Eligible for the “Last Two” Spots:

RB Josh Vaughan
FB Patrick DiMarco
WR Jeremy Ebert
OL Harland Gunn
OL Lamar Holmes
OL Peter Konz
OL Ryan Schraeder
DL Malliciah Goodman
DL Travian Robertson
LB Joplo Bartu
LB Paul Worrilow
LB Stansly Maponga
LB Jonathan Massaquoi
CB Robert Alford
CB Desmond Trufant
LS Josh Harris

Now, I should note in some cases I’m not 100 percent positive about whether players are eligible. For example, Jeremy Ebert spent two weeks on the practice squad of the Philadelphia Eagles at the start of the 2012 season. He then finished the season with five weeks spent on the New England Patriots practice squad. Because that time with the Patriots was more than three games, that would have counted towards one of his seasons on the practice squad. Then in 2013, he spent six games with the Jacksonville Jaguars on their practice squad, qualifying as his second season, meaning under the old rules he would not have been qualified for the practice squad. But with the new rule changes allowing up to six games, he might remain eligible. The confusion comes in whether his 2012 time with both the Eagles and Patriots is combined, or treated as separate. Because he spent less than six games with either team, does that mean he still has one more year of eligibility left? Or because he spent a combined seven games on either team’s practice squad, does it mean his year of eligibility is spent? Right now, I’m assuming that the time is combined, and thus he is no longer eligible for the eight-man group, and instead would only qualify for the ninth and tenth spots on the practice squad.

You can click here to find out more about NFL practice squads, such as how much they are paid.

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Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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1 Comment

  1. On your 53 man roster prediction you only have a total of 52 players. I agree with your opinion except for 3 spots. I’m predicting Harland Gunn in place of Bernard Reedy and Reedy being placed on the practice squad. Pat Angerer in place of Tyler Starr with Starr being placed on the practice squad. Lastly, Travian Robertson in place of Josh Wilson and the 53rd roster spot will be a signing of an OT from another team’s cuts. Love the website and look at it daily. Keep up the good work.

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