Because of the pandemic, the NFL has made some significant changes in the way teams are allowed to maintain their rosters this year.
The rules are intended to give teams additional roster flexibility and make more players available at any given time in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The two main changes have to do with Injured Reserve and the practice squad.
With Injured Reserve, there are two major changes.
In recent years, most players placed on IR were out for the rest of the season. Starting in 2012, teams could bring one player back from IR onto the active roster after eight weeks and in 2017 that number increased to two.
This year, teams can bring an unlimited number of players back from IR onto the 53-man roster and they can do it after just three weeks.
But those players must be on the team’s original 53-man roster as of 4 p.m. Saturday or they’re out for the season.
So you’ll see a lot of players placed on IR after final roster cuts, opening up roster spots for several players who were just released. Those players would have to clear waivers before they could be re-signed.
In the Eagles’ case, players like Jalen Reagor, Javon Hargrave and Will Parks, who are expected back early in the season but aren't expected to be available on opening day, would be candidates to be on the 53-man roster on Saturday and then placed on I.R. They would then be eligible to return for Week 4 on Oct. 4 against the 49ers.
Alshon Jeffery, who is on the PUP list, can’t be moved to Injured Reserve. He can only be activated or placed on regular-season PUP. If he's on regular-seaso PUP, he won't count against the 53-man roster for the purposes of roster cuts, but he also wouldn’t be eligible to return for a minimum of six weeks.
As for the practice squad, it was increased from five to eight players in 2014 and then to 10 players in 2014 and was scheduled to increase to 12 this year in the new CBA.
But because of the pandemic, for this year only, teams are allowed to keep 16 players on the practice squad, and six of those spots come with no restrictions in terms of career games played or years of pension credit. Veteran players with more than two years of experience earn a minimum of $12,000 per week instead of the $8,400 for players with two or fewer years.
Additionally, teams can designate four practice squad players who will be protected from being signed by other teams. Generally, practice squad players are free agents, able to sign with other teams during the week.
Teams will also be allowed to bring two players per week up from the practice squad to the active roster on game day without those players having to clear waivers to return to the practice squad. Teams can only promote any one player twice during the season.