Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins, and all of the NFL, worked their way through the fast and furious process of cutting rosters down to 53-players. With the deadline passed at 9pm Eastern last night, the focus of the Dolphins will now turn to waiver wire claims, as well as building the team's eight-man practice squad.
A player is eligible for the practice squad if they have not accrued a season of free agent eligibility according to the NFL's rules. In essence, a player has to have not been on a team's 46-man active game-day roster for more than eight games in any accrued seasons, and cannot have been on a practice squad for more than two years. A player may be placed on a team's practice squad a third time, but only so long as that team maintains 53-players on their active/inactive roster. If the team should drop below 53-players, the third year practice squad player will automatically be elevated to the main roster.
A player is considered to have served on the practice squad if he is on it for three regular season or postseason games during each of the first two years. In the third year, one game counts for practice squad participation.
Like last season, a practice squad player's minimum salary is $5,700 a week. There is no maximum amount for a practice squad salary, and teams in the past have paid extra to players to lure them from another team. However, practice squad salaries do count against the salary cap, a change that started last year with the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
A player on a practice squad may negotiate a deal with any other team in the NFL, so long as they are signed to the team's 53-man roster. A player who is poached off of a practice squad will be paid three weeks of salary from the contract he signed, even if the team does not keep him for that entire time; the salary is an attempt by the NFL to prevent teams from signing practice squad players from upcoming opponents simply to get information on that team.
The league also restricts teams from signing players off an upcoming opponents within six days of the teams' game. That restriction is pushed out to 10-days during team's bye week.