The Pittsburgh Steelers must decide on their 53-man roster by 4 pm ET on Saturday, but that won’t necessarily be the end of the road for all the players released by the Black-and-gold over the weekend. At 1 pm ET on Sunday, the rush to sign players to the practice squad will begin, and most of the names the Steelers are expected to add should come from their current, 90-man roster.
Pittsburgh can sign a maximum of 10 players to their practice squad, 11 if one of them is International Player Pathway program member Christian Scotland-Williamson. To be eligible for the practice squad, a player cannot have spent more than three previous seasons on any NFL practice squad before. He also cannot have more than two accrued seasons to his name — a season in which a player was on a 53-man roster, or injured reserve, or PUP for six or more regular-season games. However, of the 10 practice-squad names, only four players in the group can have as many as two accrued seasons.
All players are paid weekly and must earn a minimum of $7600 a week in 2018. There is no maximum a team is allowed to pay a practice-squad player, but the cost of the group must be included in the team’s salary-cap allowance.
Practice-squad players can take part in all team meetings and practice sessions, but cannot dress on game day unless they’re promoted to the active roster. While a player can be promoted at any time during the week, a player on the active, 53-man roster must be released or added to injured reserve to create room for the incoming player.
If a player is promoted to the active roster, he must receive a minimum of three game checks, even if he’s released before having spent three weeks on the 53-man roster. A released player must then clear waivers before he can be re-signed to the practice squad.
Any NFL team can sign a player from the Steelers’ practice squad throughout the season without compensation, but he must be added to their active roster. The only restrictions are when that team is an upcoming opponent and, in this case, the player must be signed at least six days before such a matchup or 10 days in advance if Pittsburgh is on a bye-week.
There are currently 56 players on the roster in 2018 eligible to to be signed to the practice squad this year, but it’s worth noting that several of them are obvious candidates to make the final 53-man roster regardless.