NEW YORK (AP) NFL teams can carry 10 players on their practice squads for the next two seasons.
The league and the players' union agreed Tuesday to increase the number of practice squad members from eight to 10.
''It's the No. 1 way for teams to develop players because ... once the season starts, those guys are a part of the team,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said in support of the change. ''They're involved in drills. They're involved in every element. All you have to do is look at the past five years, practice squad players that are now on the 53-man rosters, and there's a ton of them.''
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was also pleased.
''I think it's awesome. They could give us as many as they want to. If it goes to 10, I think it's great. It's an opportunity to keep your players, continue to train them, train those guys.
''It gives them an opportunity for an NFL job. So we've never looked at it as having 53 players. We always talk in terms of having 61, and I'll be thrilled if it goes to 63.''
Also, criteria for practice squad eligibility has been expanded in two categories.
A player must have a minimum of six games on a practice squad - increased from the previous three games - for that year to count as one of three permissible seasons on the squad.
And each team now can sign a maximum of two practice squad players who have earned no more than two NFL seasons toward free agency. Aside from that exception, a player with one or more accrued seasons can't go on a practice squad unless he spent fewer than nine games on a club's 46-player active list in each of his pro seasons.
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