Not finalized yet, practice squad and IR rules for 2021 are likely to match 2020
Thursday’s memo from the league to all teams regarding 2021 COVID procedures explains at one point that games won’t be posted or rescheduled to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness of players “in light of the substantial roster flexibility in place for the 2021 season.” The memo does not specify the substantial roster flexibility.
Per multiple sources, the rules for 2021 have not been finalized. It’s anticipated, however, that the 2020 rules will apply for 2021.
This includes, for example, a 16-person practice squad, with the ability to call up one or more of them as late as 90 minutes before kickoff, in order to replace players who suddenly may land on the COVID-reserve list.
It also includes a short-term injured reserve list, allowing teams to set an injured player aside for only three weeks before bringing him back. While this approach allows aggressive coaches to stash certain players, the league decided last year that the maximum availability of players outweighed the potential for shenanigans.
The rules likely will be finalized soon. If the league is willing to use the same procedures that it used in 2020, there’s no reason for the union to object. It creates more jobs and more opportunities for players.