At 4 PM on Saturday, the proverbial numbers game that coaches and general managers always talk about will be played, as teams all across the league will trim their rosters down from 80 to 53.
Cutdown day always presents itself with its own unique set of challenges, but this year will be especially distinctive, as there are a number of new rules in place when it comes to roster management due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are three main areas where fans will see the most change:
1. Practice squad/Active roster
An expansion of the practice squad was already signed into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement back in March. In 2020, they were to expand from 10 to 12 and then up to 14 by 2022.
But the NFL and the NFL Players Association pivoted because of the pandemic and expanded practice squads to 16 for this season. The interesting part is that teams can have up to six players on the practice squad with unlimited NFL experience, meaning that veteran players could end up there. The Eagles will have a 17th spot on their practice squad for defensive end Matt Leo thanks to the NFL's International Pathway Program.
Another big change is that teams can designate up to four practice squad players per week that are off limits to other teams. Typically, a player on the practice squad can be signed to another team's active roster. Now, teams have until 4 PM Tuesday during game week to designate the four they wish to keep away from other teams. This is not applicable during the bye week, though.
Teams now have the option to have as many as 55 players on the active roster, as they can elevate two players from the practice squad. They have to do so on the day before the game (or day of the game for Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football) and no later than 4 PM. The players are automatically sent back to the practice squad without having to be placed on waivers first. However, a team can only do that with a player twice. After two times, a player must sign an active roster contract and be counted against the 53.
2. Injured Reserve
Injured reserve has changed quite a bit over the years and there are plenty more changes coming in 2020.
A player put on Injured Reserve after Sunday at 4 PM has to sit a minimum of only three weeks, as oppose to the usual eight. And teams can activate an unlimited number of players from Injured Reserve instead of only two. Once a player has been designated to return to practice, teams have three weeks to activate him or he may not play for that club for the remainder of the season.
3. Gameday roster
Teams are now allowed to have up to 48 active players active on gameday instead of the usual 46. Eight of those players, however, must be offensive linemen.
Teams are also allowed to promote a player from the practice squad as late as 90 minutes before kickoff if a player ends up on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after 4 PM the day before.