NFL practice squads were set to expand from 10 players to 12 players during the 2020 season as a part of the new CBA. With teams now navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to expand those rosters to 16 players this season.
Up to six players on the practice squad can have an unlimited number of accrued seasons. This means that six spots on the practice squad can really be an extension of the 53-man roster.
Bob Quinn is one of the more aggressive general managers in the NFL in terms of turning over the bottom of the roster and adding to the practice squad. He made nearly 40 transactions involving the practice squad last season.
The 16 players on the squad this year could end up being extremely valuable with the uncertainty of the pandemic and the chance players could acquire the virus at any point in the week during the season and thus miss game time.
"Obviously, the guys on the practice squad are guys we think we can develop, but also guys that need to be ready to go play in games," Patricia said in a Zoom call with reporters Friday. "I would say more so than ever."
Patricia anticipates the amount of players going up and down from the practice squad to the active roster will be higher than normal.
"So, making sure that we do a really good job of evaluating the players that are here through training camp, but also coaching and teaching everybody to be ready to go so that we can keep those guys in that practice squad situation, but they're really an extended part of the team, ready to go," he said.
"Especially, think about the possibilities when you get to the season – really, not that you want to look that far, but we have testing on a particular day before a game and something happens, everybody has got to be ready to go and that's the way we have to look at it."
So while the focus towards the end of training camp is typically centered around the 53-man roster and the bubble watch, this year more than ever, the work done in the 24 hours after the initial roster cut, when teams put together their practice squads, will be an extremely important transaction period in 2020.