Time for a change?
I believe the NFL would be well advised to address the rules concerning the structure of team rosters. The rules, as currently written, provide teams with a 53 man roster. 8 additional players can be carried on a practice squad. Teams are allowed to activate 45 players for each game. An emergency 3rd QB (with rules concerning his usage) is allowed and doesn’t count against the 45.
I suggest the NFL should increase team player rosters to 56 players (an increase of 3 slots). With the expanded roster in effect, expand the game rosters to 48 active players for games (also an increase of 3 slots). Additionally, the game day emergency 3rd QB slot would be eliminated. Finally, the Practice Squad would be changed to a minimum of 4 players and a maximum of 6 players carried on payroll.
I’ll make my case for these changes after the break!
The increase to a 56 player roster will have multiple beneficial effects. Anticipated increases in league revenue and the associated increase in player payroll will allow rosters to increase the number of active players while slowing the meteoric rise in player salaries as seen over the past few years. Increasing the number of players on the roster also allows a team to protect and develop players considered projects without fear of them being plucked off the practice squad. Thoughtful use of the expanded roster will allow coaching staffs flexibility in tuning game day active rosters to the needs for a particular opponent. Even the NFLPA benefits by an expanded base by having more players on rosters within the league.
The increase to a 48 player active roster for games will allow the NFL to improve their product and provide a safer working environment. In tune with the NFL’s focus on safety, an expanded active roster allows greater flexibility by the respective coaching staffs to reduce downs played by individual players. Additionally, an expanded active roster decreases the chance a player is forced to play after an injury due to positional requirements. This is particularly important with the league-wide awareness and concerns over concussions. By elimination of the emergency 3rd QB rule, coaches can utilize their QB’s without restrictions. The final result of this change is that teams can implement more situational rotations that can help team production while providing valuable playing time to more players.
On all counts, I believe this is a win-win for the NFL and the NFLPA should it be implemented. I had actually written this post earlier but had delayed posting until I had the time to read over my work. Then last night while listening to Cat Scratch Radio I was amazed that the issue was brought up. I didn’t even know it has been an item of discussion within the CBA talks. Let’s hope the new agreement actually enacts these changes.