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2022 Practice squad explainer: Everything you need to know, from waiver wire rules to eligibility

A breakdown of everything you need to know—definitions, deadlines, rules—about the 2022 NFL roster cuts and practice squads.

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The 49ers have already begun trimming their roster down to 53. In about two hours, they need to finalize their roster. And while there’s a deadline at 1 PM PT, there will be plenty more transactions in the coming days.

Deadlines to know

Tuesday, August 30 — 1 PM PT: Every team must have their roster down to 53 players.

Not only must teams finalize their roster, but this is the deadline to place any player currently on active/PUP or active NFI on reserve/PUP or reserve/NFI. The 49ers’ candidates include Jason Verrett, Jimmie Ward, and Kalia Davis. If a player is moved, they’ll be ineligible for the season’s first four games.

If not, then then the players are considered “active” on the 53-man roster, with no injury designation, and the team can cut them. It’s important to note that no player may be moved to the reserve/PUP or NFRI list if they are not already on the active/PUP or NFI.

Wednesday, August 31 — 9 AM PT — Teams must have their waiver claims in for players waived in the cutdown from 80 to 53.

At 9 AM-ish, teams will be notified if they were awarded any players off waiver. Once those notices are sent out, teams can start to sign players to their 16-man practice squad. Then, the frenzy begins.

Wednesday, August 31 — 1 PM PT — Teams can start to place players on their 53-man roster on IR with an eligibility to return after a minimum of four games. Any player placed on IR before this deadline will be lost for the entire season.

Waiver wire rules

Waived vs. Released

When a player is cut, they are either “waived” or “released.” A player with four accrued seasons is “released,” meaning their contract is terminated, and they are a free agent that can sign anywhere immediately.

A player with less than four accrued seasons is “waived,” meaning their contract stays intact until they go through the waiver wire process. So, the 49ers released Ken Crawley on Monday. They waived rookie Dohnovan West.

Waiver claim process

A waived player can be claimed by any other team looking for players. There is a period in which any team that wants a waived player submits a claim. At the end of the claim period— 9 AM PT on Wednesday in this case— the team with the highest waiver priority gets the player and his contract. If a player is not claimed in that window, their contract is terminated, and they are free to sign anywhere.

San Francisco is rolling the dice that Jason Poe, JaMychal Hasty, and some other youngsters they likely want back to return to the practice squad.

Waiver wire priority

Waiver wire priority is determined by last year’s standings—or the 2022 NFL Draft order prior to any trades. So for the Niners, they are 29th in the waiver priority. They’ll need to hope the player they covet is off the radar of the rest of the NFL.

San Francisco maintains the No. 29 waiver priority until after Week 3, when the 2022 record will decide the waiver wire order.

Once a team is awarded a player, they must decide on a corresponding move to make room for him—assuming there is not already a roster spot open—by 1 PMT PT that day.

Practice squad rules


Under newly-adopted rules, teams can now build a 16-man practice squad.


It seems as though these eligibility rules change yearly. In short, every single free agent is eligible to sign to a team’s practice squad. However, there are limits on certain kinds of players, depending on each player’s experience.

Here’s a look at those types of players and the maximum of each type allowed on the 16-man roster:

  • Players with an unlimited amount of experience: 6 players maximum
  • Players with two or fewer accrued seasons: 10 players maximum
  • Players with no accrued seasons or were active less than 9 games in one season: 16 players maximum

Additionally, the combination of players in the first two categories may not exceed 10. In other words, on a full 16-man practice squad, at least six of your players must have zero accrued seasons or one accrued season with fewer than nine active games