The Detroit Lions waived Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland earlier in the week and after passing through waivers, he is a free agent. Should he remain unsigned through the weekend he could elect to join latch on with a team as a member of their practice squad.
Because practice squad players are able to take part in weekly practice sessions, using one of the maximum eight spots on a kicker doesn’t make much sense as the spot is better used on a player that can actually help the team prepare for that week’s game.
But as a Norwegian, Rugland is a special case. The league’s collective bargaining agreement contains a provision by which an international player may be added to the practice squad without counting against the eight-man limit. The international player provision is covered in the Article 33, Section 1(b) of the collective bargaining agreement. It reads:
The League may elect to allow some or all Clubs to add to their Practice Squads one additional player, who shall not count against the limit above, whose citizenship and principal place of residence are outside the United States and its Territories (“International Player”). The League’s election in any one season shall not determine or affect its election in any subsequent season. Such International Players shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment that apply to other Practice Squad players except that they (1) may not, during the term of their Practice Squad Contract, negotiate or sign an NFL Player Contract with any Club; and (2) may not practice with any Club following the last Conference Championship Game unless both Conference Championship teams have such a player. In addition, notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 below, such International Player shall be eligible to serve on a Practice Squad for three additional seasons after the completion of the player’s year(s) as an International Player. As set forth in Section 3 below, the weekly salary for such International Players shall not be included in the employing Club’s Team Salary and shall instead be deducted from the calculation of the Salary Cap in the same manner as any Player Benefit Cost.
Cutting through the mumbo-jumbo we find one important difference between “normal” practice squad players and an international practice squad player. Whereas the typical practice squad player can be signed by any other club to their 53-man roster, the international provision grants the player no such rights (see bolded portion of CBA excerpt above). That means if the Lions elect to add Rugland to the practice squad under this provision, and Rugland accepts, he would be “stuck” there rather than sign with a team who may be seeking a solution to their own kicking situation.
I’m still not convinced the Lions will look to add Rugland to their practice squad but being an international player does make it more feasible. All the Lions would have to invest is the $6,000 minimum weekly salary due to any practice squad player.