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NFL votes to allow emergency third quarterback

The rule would allow teams to dress a third quarterback who doesn’t count against the gameday roster limit.

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

According to NFL public relations man Brian McCarthy, NFL owners have approved the “emergency quarterback rule” for the 2023 season. The vote took place on Monday during their spring meetings in Minneapolis.

This rule allows teams to dress a third quarterback that does not count against a game’s active players — and cannot appear in the game unless all of the team’s other quarterbacks have left due to injury. If one of those quarterbacks is later medically cleared to return to the field, they must replace the emergency quarterback, who cannot play again unless another emergency situation arises in that game.

The emergency quarterback must be on the team’s 53-man roster. Elevated practice squad players are not eligible to be designated as the third emergency quarterback.

If it chooses, a team may still name three quarterbacks to a gameday active roster, but none can operate as an emergency quarterback. A team might do it this way so that all three quarterbacks could get playing time. The team would be free to take them in and out of the game as it chose.

In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, here’s how the emergency quarterback rule might be used this season: quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Blaine Gabbert are declared active on game day, while Shane Buechele is designated as the emergency quarterback. All three may dress for the game, but only Mahomes and Gabbert count against the 47 (or 48) player gameday roster limit. If both of them are injured, Buechele would come in. If either Mahomes or Gabbert is later cleared to play, they could return to the field — but Buechele would have to return to the bench. He could only play again if Mahomes and Gabbert were unable to play in that game due to injuries.

Let’s hope the Chiefs never have to use their emergency quarterback — but if it happens, we will surely be thankful the rule exists.

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