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The New Third QB Rule and Skylar's Status

The NFL approved a new by-law allowing teams to have a third quarterback dressed on game day, but it comes with some conditions

Looking to avoid what happened in the 2022 NFC Championship Game, NFL owners approved a new bylaw Monday allowing teams to have an emergency third quarterback on game day.

But the rule comes with some caveats.

First, the third quarterback, who would not count among the 47 game-day active players, can only be used in the event the first two quarterbacks get injured and not because of performance or conduct.

Second, the third quarterback has to be on the 53-man roster and not be a practice squad elevation.

NFL Bylaw Regarding Third QB

The bylaw was passed after the San Francisco 49ers had to play all but one series of the NFC title game against the Philadelphia 49ers with running back Christian McCaffrey taking the snaps after both Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson were injured.


The Miami Dolphins never were forced to go to a third quarterback or a non-quarterback in 2022 despite having their share of injuries at the position.

In fact, injuries forced the Dolphins to use more than one quarterback in five of their 17 regular season games — against Buffalo, at Cincinnati, at the New York Jets, vs. Minnesota, at New England.

The Dolphins were among those teams that carried three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster in 2022, so it would have been easy for them to take advantage of that rule last season.

Given the protective advantage of the new rule, particularly with the rule implemented last year allowed concussion spotters to pull a player from a game — as happened with Teddy Bridgewater in the Week 5 game against the Jets — it certainly would make sense for most teams to go with three quarterbacks on their 53 in 2023.


Based on Mike McDaniel's comments of this offseason, it seems as though that's been the plan all along for the Dolphins this year.

The Dolphins signed Mike White away from the New York Jets with the assumption he would replace Bridgewater as the top backup for Tua Tagovailoa, but McDaniel said that Thompson and White would battle for that job.

It's certainly understandable for McDaniel — or any head coach — to take that public position, but it sure would be surprising if White didn't become the top backup.

This is not a knock on Thompson, but simply a reality check that he struggled more often than not in the regular season after his preseason performance earned him a spot on the 53-man roster because the Dolphins figured there was no way he'd clear waivers to be able to bring him back on the practice squad.

Yes, Thompson was the quarterback when the Dolphins clinched a playoff spot with a victory against the Jets in Week 18, but let's not forget they won 11-6 and the offense produced only three field goals.

And in the playoff game at Buffalo, Thompson completed only 40 percent of his passes and had only a 44.7 passer rating in a game the Dolphins lost by three points. And while the Dolphins did score 31 points, that was more the result of a defense that produced three turnovers (including a fumble return for a touchdown) than an offense that produced only 231 total yards.

The bottom line here is that Thompson did enough good things in the preseason to merit a longer look, but then struggled enough in the regular season and the playoff game that he shouldn't be a factor in the backup quarterback "race" barring a massive step forward in his second year.

But the new rule just might have cemented his spot on the roster — in case there were any doubts — because it'll make more sense to keep him as the 53rd player to get that extra insurance on game day as opposed to keeping a player who'll be inactive more often than not barring injuries.