The NFL is constantly trying to adapt to an ever-changing game, and every year, the league makes tweaks to how teams are allowed to operate during the postseason. In 2024, there were a few notable changes with regard to how teams can manage rosters that Detroit Lions fans should be aware of.
Let’s take a close look at some of the modifications that were made for this postseason.
2024 postseason roster rules begin on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET
As non-playoff teams have turned the page to the offseason, several are signing players to futures contracts as they work toward building their 90-man rosters. For playoff teams, they are readying themselves for the postseason by establishing their rosters for the tournament.
At 4 p.m. ET on January 10, playoff teams must adhere to the NFL’s postseason roster rules.
Active roster movement during the postseason
Here’s a summary of how rosters can be altered during the postseason with the notable changes for 2024:
- Playoff teams are only permitted to sign a maximum of four free agents during the postseason and cannot sign more than two free agents in any one week.
This allows the NFL to keep a competitive balance amongst the teams in the postseason, while also allowing them to make adjustments that may result due to injuries.
- Any free agent not currently under contract with a team is eligible to sign with any team, regardless of postseason status.
- If a player is released from an active roster, they are still subject to waivers. However, any player claimed off of waivers may not be added to an active roster until AFTER the Super Bowl.
- If a player clears waivers, they are eligible to sign a contract with any team—active, practice squad, or futures (for non-playoff teams)—but they do count towards the free agent allotment.
- Transactions can be made throughout the week, up until 4 p.m. ET on Saturdays.
Practice squad movement during the postseason
- Practice squad players can be signed to their team's active roster at any time and do not count against the free agent allotment.
- Practice squad players can be elevated to the active game day roster an unlimited amount of times during the postseason, though teams are still limited to two elevations per week.
- Practice squad players’ contracts expire seven days after their teams’ final game and they become free agents at that time. They are eligible to sign active roster or practice squad contracts with playoff teams or futures contracts with non-playoff teams.
Returning players on injured reserve
- Players on injured reserve can still return to the active roster once medically cleared, as long as the team has not returned the maximum of eight players allowed in a season.
For the Lions, they have returned six players from injured reserve this season, meaning they still have the potential to return two more players. This is worth noting because James Houston, who is currently on injured reserve, is in the injury evaluation window and could potentially return in the future—though he does face an uphill battle.