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Looking at the NFL’s new quarterback rule, will it affect the Rams?

Sean McVay has already kept three QB’s on the roster for the past two seasons

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout
All four Rams quarterbacks could stay in L.A. in 2023
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

For the Los Angeles Rams, it’s not a huge change, but NFL quarterbacks are cheering in unison about the NFL’s new emergency quarterback roster rule. At the league’s spring meetings a new bylaw was adopted that allows teams to activate a third quarterback on game days.

For the past two seasons, Head Coach Sean McVay has kept three quarterbacks on the 53, but seldom had all three active for the same game. Now he can basically have two backup QB’s that only cost him one roster spot.

It won’t be an additional roster spot, QB#3 will have to be on the 53 man roster. Rather, teams will be able to carry the extra quarterback without it counting against the current 46 game day player limit. It is the second recent roster carve out adopted by the NFL. Back in 2020 the league voted to allow teams to dress out two extra players, up to 48, if they have at least eight offensive linemen as game day actives. With the new rule, NFL teams can now have 49 bodies in play for games.

Some are calling it the “Purdy” or “49er” rule. If you recall, the San Francisco 49ers were forced to put running back Christian McCaffrey behind center when both Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson were knocked out of last years NFL Championship game. But it’s not some original epiphany from the league, back in 1991 the NFL allowed teams to activate a third quarterback and that rule stood until 2010.

The basics of the rule:

  • Teams are allowed to designate a third emergency quarterback on game days, without it counting towards that games active roster. This player will come from said teams 53 man roster.
  • The added QB will only be allowed to enter the game only if both the quarterbacks ahead of him are incapacitated, by injury or ejection.
  • If either of the two primary quarterbacks are medically cleared to return to action, the emergency QB must relinquish the field and may not be used in another role.

What it means for the teams

In theory, it means all 32 teams may carry a third quarterback on the active roster and another on the practice squad. Trying to stash your third QB on the practice squad presents a couple major challenges. First, PS players designated for that weeks roster are not eligible under the new rule and second, these “extra” QB’s on the PS are not protected from being poached by opponents. For example, if your starter gets nicked up in the previous game, gamesmanship may come into play. Opponents could snatch up your PS quarterback early in the week and force you to dig deep for a last-minute emergency replacement.

What it means for the players

A bunch of high-paying jobs and I don’t just mean for the experienced quarterbacks. Once an already thin talent pool is shallow enough to see bottom, second-tier youngsters, who would likely be cut, will get a long look for roster spots. It’s not just current QB’s, bubble positional players who have a background/history behind the center could conceivably offer more value on the practice squad, or maybe even the back end of a roster.

What it means for the Rams

Since McVay has kept three quarterbacks on the 53 the past couple seasons, so it’s a seamless fit for what they are used too. But now for L.A., it’s the best of two worlds. They can have a backup with NFL game experience, Brett Rypien, while at the same time developing rookie Stetson Bennett. If Dresser Winn can absorb the huge competition step up in preseason workouts, he would be set up nicely for a practice squad role.

If disaster were to strike again and Matthew Stafford was to miss multiple games, the Rams world, although murky, wouldn’t end. Rypien looks like the classic NFL long-term backup, showing that he can spot start and run an NFL offense. Stetson earned a starting role on, arguably, college football’s best team and has two national championships to show for it. I may question his arm talent, but certainly not his grit and competitiveness.