Lions Leverage Playoff Rules for Flexible Roster Moves

Lions Leverage Playoff Rules for Flexible Roster Moves

Over the past week and into this week, the Detroit Lions have had to build a lot of rosters. Several players were cut, signed and/or added to the practice squad to add C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Alim McNeill, Jason Cabinda, Michael Badgley and Hendon Hooker to the 53-man roster.

Just last week, we saw notable members of the team — Chase Lucas, Isaiah Buggs and Trevor Nowaske — waive those roster spots. However, there is one league rule in the NFL playoffs that should help the Lions manage their roster in a big way. Throughout the season, we’ve seen the Lions move players up from the practice squad on Saturday, making them eligible on Sunday.

It’s a way to expand their roster so that players on the practice squad can play without having to write them on the 53-man roster (and then cut someone else). However, it has its limits. To prevent teams from underpaying players on practice squad contracts (Note: practice squad players receive game checks when promoted), the league limits weekly raises to only three per player per season.



If you want to play a fourth time as a practice squad player, you have to sign him to a big boy, 53-man contract. The league also limits teams to only two practice squads per game. However, in the playoffs, practice squad promotions are reset to zero, and any individual player can be promoted from the practice squad as many times as the team wishes during the remainder of the season.

However, the team is still limited to two climbs per week. How does this help the lions? Consider some of the players currently on the team’s practice squad. Fullback Bruce Irvin has already used all three of his regular-season practice squad moves. But because of that rule, the Lions don’t have to sign him to the 53-man roster if they want him to play in the playoffs.

His upside will reset after Week 18, so Detroit can continue to target him — though he’ll have to sit out the season finale against the Vikings if Detroit wants to go that route. That includes a player like Jason Cabinda, who was cut and signed to the practice squad last week.

Detroit no longer has to use the 53-man roster for him, as they can move him this week and as many times as they want in the playoffs. Here is a list of current Lions practice squad players who have been called up:


  • OL Connor Galvin: 2 elevations used
  • OL Michael Schofield: 1 elevation used
  • OL Michael Niese: 2 elevations used
  • EDGE Bruce Irvin: 3 elevations used
  • DT Tyson Alualu: 1 elevation used
  • S Brandon Joseph: 2 elevations used

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