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NFL Practice Squad Salary, Rules And Eligibility

SB Nation looks into the eligibility, rules, and salary requirements for players on 2011 NFL practice squads.

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Beginning on September 4, NFL teams can begin officially signing eligible players that cleared waivers to their 8-man practice squad.

Eligibility for the practice squad is limited to players who do not have an accrued season in the NFL, or were on an active list (53-man roster) for fewer than nine games during their only accrued seasons. Players that have served two seasons on a practice squad are eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player's employment.

A player will be considered to have served on a practice squad in a season if he were a member of a practice squad for three regular or postseason games during his first two practice squad seasons, or for one regular season or postseason game during a third practice squad season.

The minimum weekly salary for practice squad players in 2011 (and 2012) is $5,700, an increase of $500 over the 2008-2010 rate. There is no limit to how much a team can pay a practice squad player. Several teams have enticed players with offers of increased pay, usually a few thousand dollars extra, to join or remain on their practice squad. Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, a practice squad salary of $319,991 to sign with them. Instances like that may be rare this season, as practice squad contracts count towards the salary cap.

Practice squad players are free to negotiate contracts to join other team's active list (53-man roster) at any time. One exception to this is that practice squad players may not sign a contract with his team's next opponent after 4pm ET six days preceding the game. That deadline is pushed back to ten days during bye weeks.  Players signed off one team's practice to another team's 53-man roster shall receive three (3) weeks salary of his contract at the 53-man roster minimum, even if he is terminated from the 53-man roster before earning that amount.