Of all the off-camera roles a budding football star can make, none are quite as uneasy a position to be in as a member of a team’s practice squad. Not a fully fledged player, but certainly good enough to make it past the minor leagues, the Practice Squad is an odd amalgamation of players who didn’t quite make the draft, players who did but may have not made it a whole season due to injury, or some other reason.
As one can expect, they practice with their respective NFL team as a means of training up the primary team to peak performance. But how much do they make? Keep reading to find out the answers and more!
Average Salary for an NFL Practice Squad Player In 2023 – $102,000
Practice squad players who have played less than two seasons earn around $11.5K per week (this will go up to $16.7K in 2030) or $207K every 18 weeks. After gaining two years of experience, they will receive a minimum of $15.K per week or $277K every 18 weeks. It’s also important to note that their salaries do count toward their team’s salary cap.
Note: There isn’t a fixed salary for these players; only the minimum and maximum are set (the weekly maximum will go up to $26.25K in 2030). More experienced veterans are free to negotiate the best possible contract
In contrast, rookies on an active roster make a minimum of $705K.
If a practice squad player is promoted to the active roster, he’ll receive the prorated minimum salary according to his experience level. For example, a rookie who’s promoted to the active roster will have his pay increased from $11.5K to $39K.
A practice squad player can also be temporarily promoted to the 53-man roster if a particular position is needed in a team. Their salary will then be prorated with the set minimum. However, a team can only do this three times before signing the individual to their active roster.
How do you become an NFL Practice Squad Player – Do you need to go to school?
To become an NFL Practice Squad Player, you may not need to go to school per se, but in finding all the eligibility requirements and ways to actually end up on the team you may need a degree in Law.
As to be expected, starting out the path to NFL player and Practice Squad player are on in the same: Start early, play regularly in school, at least to high school, and if not selected then, try to go to college and play hard. Then, you may be selected for further training by the NFL and tossed into the main or Practice Squad. However, determining if you can even go onto said position, and what can be done after is much more tricky.First off, to qualify to work on a Practice Squad, you can’t have a lot of experience in the NFL. In fact, you can’t even have 9 games under your belt even in the most extreme circumstances. Most would be disqualified for this role even with as little as 6 games where they were on the active roster. You can also be disqualified if you have two seasons of what is deemed Free Agency Credit. Likewise, they cannot already have been on the practice roster for 2 seasons previous, with each “season” being a minimum of three weeks. This means that someone can practice for three weeks, twist their ankle, come back a year later, do the same thing, and not be allowed to play in that role again (here’s to hoping nobody has that happen).
As said earlier, this job can land you into the NFL’s Active Squads if you show talent, and many players have that happen. Oddly though, most of these selected players get picked up by other teams, and can be selected throughout the season. For this reason, there’s an oddball of a rule in the NFL. Practice Squad Players can be picked up by an opposing team, but they have to do so at least 6 days before the teams play, or 10 days if it happens to be a bye week. Of course there are contracts to sign and waiver off, but these are usually far less binding than those of Active players. This may be particularly attractive for Practice Players who felt they weren’t adequately appreciated by their first team, and would really like to show them what the player has got.
Of course, there can be another way for the Practice Squad player to leave. If ran for two seasons, cut early, or not picked up by an NFL team, then it’s time to retire the dream. Sadly this does happen with some level of regularity, as having 10 spots rotating per team rotating at the very least once every 2 seasons really turns out a lot of players. Still though, they can claim they played with some of the NFL greats, and have a nice looking bank account afterwards.