Philadelphia Eagles News

Michael Vick And The "Use Of Third Quarterback" Rule

There have been some conversations in chats and message boards regarding whether the Eagles can keep more than three quarterbacks on the final roster. The answer to that is yes, the Eagles could theoretically keep Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, A.J. Feeley, Adam DiMichele and Michael Vick on the 53-man roster. I would be shocked if the Eagles keep all five players, but they have the option to do so.

Say the Eagles keep four, which is something that head coach Andy Reid didn't rule out on Saturday. By rule, the Eagles must have two quarterbacks on the 45-man active player list who are, according to the NFL official rulebook, "bona fide quarterbacks." You can't say Brian Westbrook is a quarterback just to gain an extra player at another position. If the Eagles have two and only two active quarterbacks on the 45-man list, one of the other quarterbacks can be designated the "Third Quarterback." If the Third Quarterback enters the game, he can only play the quarterback position on his first play - meaning he must be under center or in the shotgun. After the first play, the Third Quarterback can be a kicker, punter or holder but he can't line up at any other positions.

If the Third Quarterback enters the game during the first three quarters, the two active quarterbacks can't return under any circumstances. If the Third Quarterback comes in the fourth quarter or overtime, the two active quarterbacks are still eligible to play quarterback, kicker, punter or holder. However, the Third Quarterback can not be in the game at the same time as the active quarterbacks. If the Eagles have three or more quarterbacks on the 45-man list, you do not get a ""fourth quarterback"" on the inactive list.

The two active quarterbacks do not have to be injured for the Third Quarterback to play. The rules remain the same whether the Third Quarterback is in for injury reasons or if it's a coach's decision.

Reid stated on Saturday that Kevin Kolb is the No. 2 quarterback. And Reid reiterated that Vick is a quarterback.

There is a lot of time for this to play out, but at least there's the background info for what options the Eagles have.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 7:43 a.m., August 16

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