As everyone knows, 2020 is going to be a very different NFL season.
On top of COVID-19 protocols, there are also new roster rules.
According to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero, here are three of the bigger ones: 16-player practice squad (up to six with no limit on accrued seasons), teams can protect up to four practice squad players each Tuesday from being signed by other teams, and beginning Sept. 6 unlimited players can return from injured reserve after being there for three weeks.
This will impact the Patriots just like every other team in the league.
The expanded practice squad will allow the Patriots to keep a few more players than they normally would at the end of the summer in the organization. And the six players with no limit on accrued seasons means basically anyone is eligible, even long-time veterans. In a normal year, 53 players make the initial roster and then 10 get signed to the practice squad. This year, 53 players will make the initial roster and then 16 will get signed to the practice squad.
Some of these spots could go to rookies who the coaching staff wants to get more of a look at, so it's a good things for undrafted rookies who won't get the chance to compete in preseason games or even joint practices.
The protecting of four players each week on the practice squad is also a good thing for teams who want to keep players they like on their practice squad. In the past, teams could sign players off other teams' practice squads as long as they stayed on the active roster for a few weeks afterwards. Because of that, teams had to be wary of potentially losing players from the practice squad. That won't be the case this year and it's likely teams will protect veterans, as well as younger players they really like.
As for the new injured reserve rule, it eliminates only being allowed two players to return from IR after spending at least eight weeks on the list. Last year, N'Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn were the two Patriots players who returned off IR. This year, the team can have as many as they want. This will likely mean more players going on IR with injuries that will keep them out for roughly a month because an extra roster spot can be gained. In the past, teams would shy away from that because players would have to miss more time and only two could return.
All these rules seem to be created for more roster flexibility, which in these times is a good thing.