How Much Do NFL Practice Squad Players Make? ,Here is the truth!

Written by Rupam Kumar

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Ever wondered about the lives of those NFL practice squad players hustling away from the limelight? Most notably, how much do they make for their blood, sweat, and tears on the field? 

The NFL Practice Squad, often unglamorous yet vital, is a breeding ground for talent. Comprising typically of rookies, free agents, or players in need of development, the practice squad provides an important stepping stone toward a potential spot on the main roster.

A clear understanding of NFL practice squad salaries will not only satisfy your curiosity but will also enable a broader understanding of the NFL’s pay scale. 

Let’s explore further into the money matters of these dedicated athletes.

How Much Do NFL Practice Squad Players Make?

  • How the NFL Practice Squad Works?

The NFL practice squad primarily provides a backup pool of players, ready to step onto the main team as necessary. These players attend all team meetings and practices, staying match-fit all year round. 

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp
Los Angeles Rams Training Camp

Yet, they do not participate in actual NFL games unless promoted to the active roster. The purpose is to help the active squad prepare for games by mirroring the playing style of the upcoming opponent’s team during practices.

Average Salaries of NFL Practice Squad Players

In 2023, the minimum compensation for players on the NFL practice squad is $11,500 for those with two or fewer NFL seasons under their belt and $15,400 for those with three or more. Players on the practice squad can negotiate pay over the minimum wage and still, the most a player may get on the practice squad is $20,600 per week.

Players on the practice squad are also qualified for many other incentives such as dental, vision, and health insurance. Rewards such as performance bonuses are also available to them.

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Atlanta Falcons Training Camp

A player on the practice squad gets the prorated minimum salary for a player with their level of experience if they are promoted to the active roster. A player with more than seven to eight years of experience would make overall above $62,000 and a rookie who is promoted to the active roster ahead of a game would make over $38,000.

The pay for NFL practice squad players is overall small but those who continue to compete for a spot on the regular roster surely get a respectable income and incentives too. Players on the practice squad also have the chance to get more paid through performance bonuses as well as incentives. 

Eligibility Criteria for Practice Squad Players

Eligibility for the practice squad is not open to all. Players must have,

  1. Less than two accrued seasons in the NFL 
  2. Been on the active roster for fewer than nine games during their accrued season 

Exceptions exist, allowing up to six players with any amount of accrued seasons to join the practice squad.

NFL Practice Squad Contracts and Pay Scale

New York Jets Offseason Workout
New York Jets Offseason Workout

Practice squad contracts in the NFL can be as complex as they come, with a host of variables influencing the pay scale of these athletes. 

  • Practice Squad Contracts

The immediate thing you should know is that these contracts mostly resemble those of active-roster players. 

While the specifics can differ, they generally include stipulations regarding pay, length of service, and other employment conditions. Yet, the core difference lies in their income and job security. 

  • Length of Contracts

NFL practice squad contracts typically span a single season, usually around 17 weeks, the same as the regular playing season. 

So, these athletes can be released or signed by another team to their active roster at any time, making job security a significant concern. 

  • Financial Terms and Guarantees

The majority of practice squad contracts do not guarantee their pay. As of 2023, a new provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement has started allowing teams to include salary guarantees for up to two practice squad contracts per season. This new development offers an exciting evolution in practice squad contracts.

Factors Influencing Practice Squad Player Salaries

Several factors come into play when determining the salaries of NFL practice squad players,

  • The players who have shown high potential or excellent performance during their college years or training camp tend to earn higher salaries.
  • Salaries also depend on the player’s position and the demands of the team. If a team heavily needs that position, they are likely to offer lucrative contracts to retain valuable players.
  • A team’s current salary cap situation also plays a role. If a team has strained its cap, they might have to offer modest contracts compared to those who have room to spare.

Benefits for NFL Practice Squad Players

Being part of an NFL practice squad does not just come with a paycheck. There are also a range of additional benefits these players receive.

Firstly, NFL practice squad players earn a minimum weekly salary, which progresses annually based on their years of service. Additionally, they benefit from union representation, stipulated under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here are some of the other benefits,

Los Angeles Rams Practice
Los Angeles Rams Practice

1. Medical Coverage

Every NFL practice squad player receives the best medical coverage. This includes medical, dental, as well as vision insurance. It is necessary protection given the physical toll that football can take on a player’s body.

2. Travel and Housing Allowances

Travel and housing allowances are another significant benefit. While this varies by team, in general, practice squad players receive assistance for housing costs and any travel related to team activities.

3. Training and Development Opportunities

In the NFL, there are lots of opportunities for training and development. Players on the practice squad get the invaluable opportunity to train and learn from the best in the game. These athletes are able to absorb information that would be difficult to find elsewhere, whether it be in the classroom or on the field.

Challenges for NFL Practice Squad Players

NFL practice squad players face some unique financial challenges compared to their main roster colleagues. 

While being part of the professional sports world may seem glamorous, the reality often involves variable incomes, balancing multiple jobs, and making significant personal sacrifices.

  • Inconsistent Income and Job Security

One of the major issues practice squad players face is inconsistent income. Unlike their regular NFL counterparts, these players are not usually on yearly contracts. 

Their pay comes on a weekly basis during the regular season, and there is always the threat of being released with little notice. This lack of job security makes it harder for them to plan their finances in the long run.

  • Balancing Football and Other Jobs

Due to the low and irregular income, many practice squad players are forced to take up additional jobs during the offseason. This not only affects their ability to focus fully on their sport but also adds a level of stress and complexity to their lives.

  • Impact on Long-Term Financial Planning

The precarious nature of the practice squad’s livelihood often means players have difficulties with long-term financial planning. 

Without a guaranteed salary, important decisions like home purchase or setting up a retirement fund can become complex and challenging.

Highest-paid practice squad player NFL

Markus White a defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get paid the highest salary among NFL practice squad in 2023 members. 

The salary of White for the season will be around $300K or $17,647 per week. White has played in 4 games since his joining the Bucs in 2019 and recorded one sack and two tackles.

Other high-paid practice squad players NFL in 2023 included,

  1. Jordan Mills: $17,400 (per week) offensive lineman
  2. Jason Verrett: $17,200 (per week) cornerback
  3. Ja’Whaun Bentley: $17,000 (per week) linebacker
  4. Brian Hoyer: $16,800 (per week) quarterback

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do practice squad players travel with the team?

Ans: Players from the practice squad usually do not go on road games with the club. This is a result of the fact that they are not regarded as being on the active roster and are not allowed to dress for games. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though.

2. What is the NFL practice squad salary after taxes?

Ans: Practice squad members will be paying between 30 and 40 percent of their earnings in taxes. If the salary is $15,400 per week then after taxes, the player would have $11,619 remaining per week.

3. Do NFL players get paid weekly?

Ans: Yes, during the regular season, NFL players often receive a weekly salary. The 17-week schedule plus the bye week are covered by the 18 payments that make up their base salaries.

4. How long can an NFL player be on the practice squad?

Ans: A player from the NFL may spend a maximum of three seasons on the practice squad. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. For instance, a player’s time on the practice squad is not deducted from their three-season cap if they are injured and placed on injured reserve.

5. How big is the NFL practice squad?

Ans: The size of the NFL practice squad is limited to 16 players. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, this was expanded from 12 players in 2020, and the adjustment became permanent with the 2022 season.

Final Note

The financial aspect of being an NFL practice squad player is an interesting mix of challenges and rewards. They earn less than first-string players but significantly more than an average American worker. 

Their contracts can be flexible, absorbing the shifts in team needs and the player’s performance.

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