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These Are the Rules for the Jets to Build Their Practice Squad

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to the 53 man roster, the Jets will sign up to 10 players to their practice squad over the next few days.

What is the practice squad?

It is exactly what it sounds like. These players practice with the team. They learn the system and work on developing their games. They are not eligible to play in games, however, unless they are signed to the 53 man roster. These players are frequently the first a team will sign if somebody goes on injured reserve and a roster spot opens up because of their knowledge of the playbook. These guys do not receive a full NFL salary, but last year practice squad players made no less than $6,600 per week when they were on the practice squad. That isn't bad work if you can get it.

Who is eligible?

The rules have changed over the last few years. For this coming season, teams have ten slots. Four of the ten may be used on players with two years of NFL service time. At least six of the ten have to be used on players with less than two years of NFL service time.

So the Jets can just send players who don't make the team to the practice squad like my favorite baseball team options players to the minor leagues, right?

No, they cannot. The Jets have to release 22 players to get their roster from 75 to 53 players. While the practice squad will likely be made primarily from these cuts, the Jets cannot simply place them on the practice squad. After players with less than four years of NFL service time are released, they are placed on what are known as waivers. This gives the other 31 teams a full day to decide whether they want to claim that player's contract. If another team claims a player, that team gets the player, and the Jets cannot sign him to the practice squad. If more than one team claims a player, he is awarded to the team that had the higher Draft pick last year (at least until we get a few weeks into the season).

Players with more than four years of service time automatically become free agents when they are released, but remember, the practice squad is made up entirely of players who have two years or less of service time. Any practice squad player will need to be unclaimed on waivers. For this reason, you probably will not hear about the Jets signing any player to the practice squad until Sunday at the earliest.

It might be until Monday or later until the practice squad is full. Saturday is when most of the cuts will probably take place in the league. Teams will start making waiver claims. Then those players will be awarded to new teams on Sunday, which will lead to another round of cuts and waiver claims. Remember, if you claim a player on waivers, you have to clear a roster spot for him. So the Jets might wait until the second round of cuts before fully filling up their allotment of players to see whether a player they want shakes free.

Are the Jets only allowed to sign players who were in training camp with them to the practice squad?

No, the Jets can sign any free agent who fits the service time requirements to the practice squad, even if that guy spent camp and preseason with another team. The player just needs to have been cut and unclaimed on waivers. (Or already be a free agent.)

Once a player is signed to the Jets practice squad, nobody else can sign him, right?

Wrong, practice squad players are free to sign with any team offering them a 53 man roster spot. There are just a few provisions about upcoming opponents signing practice squad players. They prevent the next team you play on the schedule from signing one of your practice squad guys, pumping him for information, and dumping him after the game.