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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
John Sigler

NFL to expand practice squads in 2024 with emphasis on international players

We’re continuing to see an emphasis on the NFL’s overseas outreach with the league announcing a plan to expand practice squads in 2024 — opening a 17th spot on every team’s practice squad for an international player. Expect the New Orleans Saints to embrace this opportunity.

The Saints have participated in the NFL International Pathway program before, having developed British defensive end Alex Jenkins on their practice squad for a few years; he last played for the New York Giants in 2019 but was waived with an injury settlement, and he has been out of football since. He didn’t start out on the practice squad, but Nigerian defensive tackle David Onyemata was one of the Saints’ best players in recent years after the team found him while scouting Canadian college football prospects.

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Still, other players have traveled from abroad to find success in the NFL. Former Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada was another player who benefited from the NFL International Pathway opportunity, developing into a playmaker with 15 career sacks and a couple of takeaways to his credit; the program was piloted with NFC South teams back in 2017.

Expect more efforts from the NFL to expand their international brand in the years ahead. The league is playing more games in other countries and looking to cultivate stronger followings abroad, and it feels like only a matter of time until the Saints kick off a game in France as the country’s exclusive NFL marketing presence.

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