Carrying a third quarterback on the 53-man could be in vogue for NFL teams again this fall.
The NFL passed a bylaw originally proposed by the Detroit Lions at its spring meeting Monday allowing teams to dress a third quarterback who will not count against the team’s gameday roster.
The emergency quarterback cannot come from the team’s practice squad.
The Lions proposed allowing an emergency QB this spring after watching the San Francisco 49ers lose two quarterbacks to injury in last season’s NFC championship game.
The 49ers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-7, after Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury on San Francisco’s first offensive series and his replacement, Josh Johnson, suffered a brain injury. The 49ers used running back Christian McCaffrey as a wildcat quarterback, though Purdy re-entered and finished the game in an extremely limited capacity.
“I mean really, look, the third quarterback (proposal) was strictly because watching the San Francisco game and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, if that ever happened. That’s the worst possible time,'” Lions coach Dan Campbell said in March. “I thought (49ers coach Kyle) Shanahan made some really good points (discussing the rule), and it really wasn’t even about the fact that, man, this could happen to you. It’s more with where concussions are going, concussion protocol or spotting, man, you lose a couple of quarterbacks, you’re going to want a guy. But that’s really what that is. You just don’t ever want to be put in that position to where you don’t even have a guy who can snap the ball.”
Under the new rule, each club may designate one emergency quarterback who is eligible to play in a game if the team’s first two quarterbacks are unable to participate due to injury or disqualification.
The emergency quarterback cannot play due to a coach’s decision to remove a player from the game, and if an injured quarterback is cleared to return, the emergency quarterback must be removed from the game.
While carrying three quarterbacks was standard practice in the NFL years ago, some teams began carrying just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster as the league expanded practice squads and made modifications to its gameday roster rules in recent seasons.
The Lions have carried two quarterbacks for most of the past two seasons under Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes, though they’ve kept a third quarterback on the practice squad or injured list.
Currently, they have four quarterbacks on their 90-man roster: Starter Jared Goff, backup Nate Sudfeld, third-round pick Hendon Hooker and undrafted free agent Adrian Martinez.
Hooker is expected to open training camp on the non-football injury list as he recovers from a college knee injury, and his status for the beginning of the regular season is uncertain.
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