NFL owners approved a bylaw Monday allowing teams to dress a third quarterback on game days without using an active roster spot.
Clubs can have 53 players on the active roster, but only 48 can dress for a game. The new rule will let teams dress 48 players for contests plus a third signal-caller.
The emergency quarterback must be on the 53-man roster and can’t be a practice squad call-up. The extra signal-caller can only enter a contest if the two other quarterbacks are injured or disqualified, and he must exit if either quarterback is cleared to re-enter the game.
Teams were previously permitted to dress a third quarterback without counting against the game-day roster from 1991-2010. However, the league abolished the rule when it increased the number of players active for game day from 45 to 46.
The lack of an emergency passer proved problematic for the San Francisco 49ers in last season’s NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting quarterback Brock Purdy exited the contest due to an elbow injury, forcing veteran journeyman Josh Johnson into the lineup. San Francisco later ruled Johnson out with a concussion, leaving it with no healthy quarterbacks. A combination of running back Christian McCaffrey and a still-injured Purdy took the remainder of the team’s snaps.
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