In order to give teams more flexibility in the time of Covid-19, the NFL decided to relax its practice squad rules back in 2020. More spots were made available for developmental players; teams were allowed to add veterans that would previously not have been eligible; each player was allowed two standard game-day elevations (plus more as a Coronavirus replacement player).
Now, the rules have been changed again. As agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players associations, those three particular ares have been modified for 2022 and beyond (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).
Moving forward, each team is allowed to carry 16 instead of 14 players on its practice squad; up to six of those spots can be used on veterans. Additionally, a player can now be standard-elevated three times rather than two during the regular season. As was the case last season, there will be no elevation limits in the playoffs.
The New England Patriots made frequent use of such elevations last year, using their practice squad as an active extension of the 53-man roster more prominently than other clubs around the league. Between the start of the regular season and their wild card playoff loss in Buffalo, they brought up a total of 15 different players onto their game-day rosters as part of 36 combined transactions.
The game against the Bills alone saw four such moves, including two classified as standard elevations.
The new set of rules, which has been made permanent in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, can therefore be seen as good news for the Patriots and their standard mode of operation during the season. The more flexibility, the better — especially for a game-plan team such as New England.