In the NFL, the preseason is often the most hectic time for players. The summer whittles each roster down from 90 hopefuls to 75, before making the final cuts down to 53 men. For those who did not make the final roster, the hope is to either catch on with another organization or to make a team's practice squad.
The wait is not long for those players, with the deadline for final cuts coming on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
How many players per practice squad?
By Sunday, each team will have named 10 players to its practice squad. In previous years, only eight men were permitted, but the new rule has allowed for two more to be kept through at least the 2014 and 2015 seasons. If a team wants to keep a man who is considered to be an international player, they can do so without it counting against the 10-man roster. The player must have citizenship and a principal place of residence outside of the United States to qualify.
How does it all work?
Practice-squad players are allowed to practice with the team throughout the season, but can't play in games unless they are called up to the 45-man game day roster. A player can be signed by another team at any time, provided the new team is going to place the man on their active roster. The only time a practice-squad member can't jump to an active roster is when the upcoming opponent tries to sign him within five days of the game (nine on a bye week).
For a player who is released to be put on the practice squad, they are first put through waivers. At that point, any team can put in a claim and try to sign him, either to their active roster or to their practice squad with a higher offer.
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What makes a player eligible?
Generally, teams like to keep young players on the practice squad so they can develop without taking up spots on the active roster. Undrafted rookie free-agents are popular along with late-round draft picks. A player can be eligible if he does not have an accrued season in the NFL, although the NFL has now approved a maximum of two spots on the PS for players with no more than two accrued seasons. To have an accrued season, you have to be active for at least six regular-season games. A player can also go to the practice squad with an accrued season provided they were on the 45-man active roster for less than nine-regular season games.
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In addition, a player is allowed on the practice squad for two years. If a player is on the practice squad for six weeks, up fron three weeks per the previous agreement, in a season, it is considered a year of PS sevice. Players are only allowed to be on a practice squad for a third year if their team keeps 53 players on the active-inactive list at all times.
How much money do these players make?
The minimum a practice-squad player can make is $6,300 per week. Of course, a team can and will pay more if a player is in high demand and has other offers elsewhere. However, none of their contract is guaranteed. In short, a team can decide to cut a practice squad player without any penalty.
If a player is signed to another team and put on the active roster, they will receive a minimum of three checks regardless of whether they are kept for that entire time.
Should a player stay on the practice squad for the entire season, he stands to earn $107,100. In comparison, a player who is on the active roster and making the minimum will take in $420,000.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the salary for a practice-squad player will go up each year through 2020. Increases of $300 per week will be made until the year 2018, when $400 will be added to the previous year's salary. By 2020, the number is set at $8,400 per week.