2011 NFL Practice Squad Rules and Miami Dolphins Players Eligible

The NFL's last round of roster cuts will be completed on Saturday, bringing every team down to the 53-man roster they will carry into the season.  But, that's not the last of the personnel moves that will happen in the "preseason."  Each NFL team will establish it's "taxi squad" - their official practice squad.

The NFL regulates who is eligible for assignment on the practice squad.  The first requirement is that the player must have been released and cleared waivers before he can be signed to a practice squad.  This means, every member of a team over the 53-man roster must be allowed the opportunity to join another team - adding some strategy to whom a team would release hoping to get onto their practice squad.

Then, there's the playing time stipulations.  A player may only be assigned to a practice squad if they have less than one year accrued playing time in the NFL, of they were not on the active roster for more than nine total games in the NFL.  Also, a player may only be placed on the practice squad for two years, although a third is authorized if a team has a full 53 man roster throughout the practice squad player's time on the squad.  

So, basically, if you are on a practice squad for a third year, if that team cuts someone, you either have to be promoted, or you are off the squad - the team can't keep you there.

To qualify as having been on a practice squad for a year, the player would have had to be on the squad during three regular season games - but one game meets the qualification in the third year rule.

Each team is allowed to put eight players on their practice squad.

At any time, a player on the practice squad may reach an agreement to join another team - as long as that team puts the player on their 53-man roster.  That player will receive a guaranteed minimum salary of three weeks pay at the NFL minimum, even if he is released by the team.  There is an exception to the signing with another team rule, though.  A player may not sign with a team's next opponent within six days of the match-up (10 days during bye weeks).

Practice squad players have a minimum salary of $5,700 per week this year, although teams can pay more to their practice squad.  However, the money spent on practice squad personnel does count toward the salary cap.

As for the Miami Dolphins, currently eligible players for a practice squad slot include: quarterback Pat Devlin, running backs Daniel Thomas and Nic Grigsby, full back/tight end Charles Clay, wide receivers Clyde Gates, Phillip Livas, Julius Pruitt, Patrick Carter, and Jonathan Matthews, tight ends Dedrick Epps, and Brett Brackett, offensive linemen Mike Pouncey, Matt Kopa, Garrett Chisolm, D.J. Jones, defensive linemen Robert Rose and Frank Kearse, linebackers Austin Spitler, Quinton Spears, and Jonathan Freeny, cornerbacks Nate Ness, Vincent Agnew, and Jimmy Wilson, and safety Mark Restelli.

If you can come up with anyone else eligible, let me know and I will add them.  But, they have to meet all the rule requirements above (i.e., Marlon Moore has played in 9 games, so he's ineligible).

Oh, and trivia time.  Do you know why the practice squad is also called the "taxi squad?"

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