On Saturday, September 5, NFL rosters must be reduced from 80 to 53 players. However due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be some confusion on the size of NFL rosters and the new practice squad rules. Here’s the official wording of the CBA concerning roster cuts, “Prior to 4 p.m Cut Down Day, The New Practice Squad And Roster Rules.., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. … Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/NonFootball Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.” After the 4 p.m. deadline, players can be claimed off the waiver wire until Noon EST on September 6. One hour later, (1 p.m. EST) teams can begin to sign players to their practice squads. Originally, the new CBA called for practice squads to expand from twelve to fourteen players. However, due to the cancellation of pre-season games, the NFL expanded the practice squad to sixteen players.
So what does all this mean for Browns fans who will be playing one of their favorite games this week, the 53 man roster projection? First of all, there are new rules on game day active roster sizes. Here’s the official CBA language, “Beginning with the 2020 regular season, the Active List limit shall be increased from forty-six players per Club to forty-eight players per Club; provided, however, that such a Club’s Active List includes a minimum of eight players whose primary playing position is Center, Guard or Tackle (collectively, “Offensive Lineman”).” If the Browns carry eight or more offensive lineman on the game day roster they will be allowed to expand to 48, which is the maximum for game day rosters.
If an NFL team does not carry the minimum of eight offensive lineman on the game day roster, it will revert back to 46. Here’s the CBA explanation. ” For the sake of clarity and avoidance of doubt, for any game for which a Club’s Active List includes fewer than eight Offensive Linemen, such Club’s Active List limit shall be forty-seven players. The Clubs may not reduce these limits for the duration of this Agreement; provided, however, that individual Clubs may carry fewer than forty-eight players on their Active List during the regular season or postseason, but no fewer than forty-four players.”
This rule would seem to imply, because of the expansion of the game day roster, that NFL teams can expand their rosters from 53 to 55. The new CBA answers this question. “During the regular season and postseason, a Club’s Active/Inactive List shall not exceed 53 players unless a Club has chosen to elevate either one or two players from its Practice Squad to its Active/Inactive List, in accordance with the procedures set forth in Article 33, Section 5 of this Agreement.” A temporary player elevated from the practice squad to the game day roster can do so only twice during the season. As long as that player is reverted back to the practice squad on the following business day, they will not be subject to waivers. If the team elevates a player for more than two regular season or post season games, then the original CBA rules apply. ” The player must first terminate his Practice Squad Player Contract and execute an NFL Player Contract. If the Club wants to return the player to the Practice Squad, then the Club must request waivers on that contract or terminate the contract if the player is not subject to waivers, before resigning the player to its Practice Squad. This basically means the Club has to risk losing the player via waivers or free agency, depending on the player’s status.”
How does all this effect the Browns 2020 roster? So far, GM Andrew Berry has done a good job acquiring talent. The new CBA rules show the importance of the bottom part of the roster and the additional four roster spots on the practice squad. This might explain the signing of center Jon Toth. Toth can play center, guard and tackle. He’s a perfect example of a player for the practice squad. Once the Browns can determine the extent of the injuries they have suffered, the roster will become clearer. With the emergence of the competition for the number three wide receiver spot and the quality of depth at cornerback, the Browns have some tough decisions to make and there might be some trades made. Let’s hope Andrew Berry uses the waiver wire to acquire the best talent available. Expect a busy week when it comes to the Browns roster.