NFL owners officially passed a rule allowing teams to carry a third quarterback on game days without wasting a roster spot, NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport reported Monday.
The rule comes months removed from the NFC championship game where the 49ers had two different quarterbacks get injured, forcing them to have Brock Purdy play through a serious elbow injury. Purdy went down with a torn UCL during the team’s first offensive drive, requiring backup Josh Johnson to play in his stead. Johnson would later hit his head and enter concussion protocol, and San Francisco briefly considered running back Christian McCaffrey at quarterback before ultimately having Purdy return.
Now, teams can carry an emergency third quarterback in case of injuries during games. Game day rosters, which used to be 46 players, can now be expanded to 47 men only if the extra player is a quarterback.
According to Field Yates, as part of the rule, the third quarterback must be on the team’s 53-man roster and is not allowed to play unless there is an injury. Therefore, a team cannot bench two quarterbacks for performance reasons just to play the third one.
Previously, teams that carried three quarterbacks would make one inactive during games to not waste a roster spot. That will no longer be the case starting this season.